Cruise giant Carnival plans to resume sailings from Puerto Rico on Sunday, just three-and-a-half weeks after Hurricane Maria slammed the island.
Carnival on Monday said its San Juan-based Carnival Fascination will depart from the city late on Sunday on a seven-night Southern Caribbean voyage that features stops in Grenada, Barbados, St. Lucia, Antigua and St. Kitts.
While many areas of Puerto Rico still are in the early stages of recovery from the storm, Carnival said an assessment of the terminal facilities, support services and local conditions in the San Juan area where the 2,056-passenger Fascination docks found it ready for cruise operations to resume.
"Our teamís visit this past week confirmed the Old San Juan area is ready to receive tourists," the line said in a notice to customers. "Many shops and businesses have returned to their normal business operations with more opening up every day."
In resuming cruises from San Juan, Carnival is joining Royal Caribbean, which already has restarted voyages from the city. Royal Caribbean's 3,114-passenger Adventure of the Seas departed San Juan on Saturday on its first regular sailing from the city since Maria hit.
In it notice to customers on Monday, Carnival suggested a speedy resumption of cruises from San Juan would help Puerto Rico's recovery.
"Like you, we were saddened to see the impact the recent storm had on Puerto Rico," Carnival said. "Tourism is very important to their economy, and with your help, we are pleased to play an important role in aiding their recovery efforts in a meaningful way."
Carnival canceled three successive sailings from San Juan after Maria hit Puerto Rico on Sept. 20.
The itinerary that Fascination will follow once it leaves San Juan has been adjusted due to damage on other islands caused by Maria and Hurricane Irma. Grenada and Antigua are last-minute additions to the sailing, taking the place of St. Thomas and St. Maarten ó the Dutch side of the island of St. Martin.
St. Thomas and St. Maarten were devastated by the hurricanes and remain closed to cruise ships for now.
Carnival on Monday said St. Thomas and St. Maarten would remain off Fascination's schedule through at least early December.
"We continue to evaluate our ability to return to St. Thomas and St. Maarten and will provide further updates to our guests scheduled to sail on December sailings and beyond once more information available," the line said.