For nearly five weeks, hundreds of Royal Caribbean crew, staff and volunteers have rolled up their sleeves making humanitarian calls on ships and then in a specially constructed field kitchen in the parking lot of the Grand Lucaya resort to ensure that no one went hungry in Grand Bahama.
The cruise line, with close and long-standing ties to The Bahamas, has donated over $1.5 million toward hurricane relief efforts and provided nearly 600,000 meals and 3,000 pallets of supplies including 700,000 bottles of water, 450 generators, 13,000 gallons of diesel fuel, and more, to those affected by the hurricane.
On October 9, after preparing, cooking and serving up to 20,000 meals a day, Royal Caribbean’s team will close its field kitchen and transition its support to helping local churches and homes for the aged continue the feeding efforts by providing them with food and provisions and a $100,000 donation towards purchasing kitchen equipment.
“While our field kitchen will wrap up on Wednesday, we are maintaining our commitment to the people of Grand Bahama,” said Mark Tamis, Senior Vice President, Hotel Operations for Royal Caribbean. “Through our partnership with NEMA and the Bahamas Feeding Network, we want to ensure that hot meals will be distributed on an ongoing basis through local churches and homes for the aged from Eight Mile Rock to East End.”
From October 10, meals will be distributed at the following venues (residents should check distribution days and times with their closest venue):
Central Zion Baptist Church – Pine Dale, Eight Mile Rock
Calvary Temple Assemblies of God – Olive Street, Freeport
Mount Calvary Baptist Church – Seagrape Village, Eight Mile Rock
Church of Ascension Anglican – Arden Forest Road, Freeport
Central Church of God – Coral Road, Freeport
Revelation Faith – Jobson Avenue
St. Michael’s Catholic Church – West End
St. Cleveland Baptist Church – East End, Freetown
Christ the King Anglican Church – Pioneers Way East Atlantic Drive, Freeport
Home Away from Home for the Aged – Freeport
St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church – Pinders Point Road, Hunters Freeport
Grand Bahama Home for the Aged – Frobisher Drive
Fairfield Church of God – Settlers Way, Balao Road
“On behalf of the Prime Minister, the Government and people of The Bahamas, we are grateful for the generosity of Royal Caribbean Cruises in our time of need,” said Senator Katherine Smith, NEMA Grand Bahama coordinator. “We are also thankful for the selfless dedication and support from the hundreds of Royal Caribbean crew, staff and volunteers who have made this incredible operation possible and who will continue to support this vital function within the communities with most need.”
Royal Caribbean also will be supplying over 1,600 cases of water and 9,000 lbs of food to the Bahamas Feeding Network for distribution to displaced Grand Bahama residents in Nassau. The cruise line has been a supporter of the Bahamas Feeding Network in Nassau since 2018.
“We are grateful to Royal Caribbean for their continued partnership and collaboration,” said Philip Smith, Executive Director for the Bahamas Feeding Network. “Not only are they funding all the food for the Bahamas Feeding Network in Nassau for 2019, now they have taken on helping all of our partners in Grand Bahama as well.”
Following Hurricane Dorian’s aftermath Royal Caribbean immediately sent in one of its smaller ships, Empress of the Seas, as soon as conditions allowed. Staff aboard the ship cooked 10,000 meals that first day, ferrying the steaming containers over rough waters to get to people on shore. Over the next several days, the cruise line, sped up or shortened stays in other ports to redirect its ships in the region – including an Oasis-class ship to the island – ferrying in up to 20,000 meals daily. After eight days, Royal Caribbean barged in and set up a field kitchen, employing locals with restaurant experience temporarily out of work because so many businesses that suffered severe structural damage remained closed after the storm passed.
Royal Caribbean, through Holistica Destinations – a joint venture with the private Mexican company, ITM Group, is in negotiations with government for the purchase of the Grand Lucaya properties and during a recent visit of its Chairman and CEO, Richard Fain and Royal Caribbean International President and CEO, Michael Bayley confirmed its commitment to the revitalization of the resort as a catalyst to grow tourism in Grand Bahama.