By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
South Eleuthera’s MP Stephen “Hank” Johnson, pictured, yesterday voiced concern over the fate of 101 Princess Cays employees if the fire-damaged private cruise port is unable to resume operations “in short order”.
Princess Cruises, which owns the 40-acre destination, said it was still assessing the impact Monday night’s fire will have on future ship calls after four buildings were destroyed. The Carnival Pride, a 2,680-passenger ship that was scheduled to arrive today on a seven-day cruise, is being diverted to Half Moon Cay.
Other cruise ships, due to arrive at the weekend, are also likely to be diverted. Princess Cays is a major employer in South Eleuthera, and the negative economic fall-out could be substantial if the cruise port is not rapidly restored to normal.
Princess Cruises, in a statement sent to Tribune Business yesterday, said: “The fire encompassed several buildings on the south side of the island. It was fought by local firefighters and island staff for approximately one hour before it was extinguished.
“There were no guests at Princess Cays at the time, and no injuries have been reported. No guest-facing facilities were impacted except one of several public restrooms.The cause of the fire is currently unknown and under investigation. The safety of our employees and guests is our number one priority. Any impact to future Princess ship calls is currently being assessed.”
Stephen ‘Hank’ Johnson, the MP for central and south Eleuthera, yesterday expressed serious concern that any prolonged shutdown of Princess Cay could adversely impact the South Eleuthera community and the 101 employees working at the private island.
“The damage was somewhat extensive,” he told Tribune Business. “They’ve lost an area that I call the operations area, where all of the maintenance is done; the generators, the RO (reverse osmosis) plant and storage facilities. I call it the general maintenance area.
“There are 101 locals employed there. We are waiting on the managers to fly in and give us an update as to what their plans are going forward. The impact on South Eleuthera would be significant if they are not able to get back up and running in short order.”