Question: Whatís better than a $50,000 shopping spree? Answer: One that includes shipping and handling. Question: Whatís even better than that? Answer: If youíre spending it all on needed relief supplies for the victims of Hurricane Ivan on Grand Cayman.
Last week, Princess Cruises went out and bought $50,000 of supplies needed by the residents of hurricane-devastated Grand Cayman. But in Princessí case, it isnít a case of just write out a check and let someone else handle it from there.
When it all got delivered to their Ft. Lauderdale warehouse, it included more than 17,000 bottles of bottled water, canned food (letís hope they remembered can openers), clothing (there is a special need for kidsí clothing - some of it may even say "Caribbean Princess Inaugural Season" on it), generators (which are coveted items and almost impossible to obtain in Florida after three hurricanes) and chainsaws.
But that wasnít the end of the plan. It all needed to get to Grand Cayman. And the executives at Princess thought, "Whatís the good of having a 116,000-ton cruise ship sailing around the Caribbean, if all youíre going carry on it is passengers?"
So last Saturday, when Caribbean Princess turned around at Port Everglades, they loaded all the supplies on the ship, and off it sailed on its western Caribbean itinerary with a full load of passengers along with almost 150 tons of cargo bound for Grand Cayman. (Caribbean Princess was scheduled to cruise the eastern Caribbean this week, but it was switched to the western Caribbean to avoid the possibility of crossing paths with Hurricane Jeanne.)
But that wasnít exactly just as easy as driving the trucks up to Caribbean Princess and loading it aboard. They first had to work out the very real question of just where were they going to put almost 150 tons of extra supplies onboard. To imagine the volume of this shipment, imagine just the bottled water alone. First picture a case of bottles. Now imagine 72 cases. Thatís one pallet. There are 20 pallets of water alone. Add in all the rest of the supplies and you can see why things got limited to 150 tons. One way or another, Princess got everything aboard in addition to everything they normally need to make sure their passengers donít want for a thing during their cruise.
Believe it or not, that was the easy part. The next part is even more mind-boggling.
As far as the passengers are concerned, tomorrow (Tuesday) is a sea day. The cruise director has scheduled a full dayís worth of activities like any other day at sea. Caribbean Princess is enroute from Cozumel (where it called today) to Jamaica (on Wednesday). So some passengers will be enjoying a lazy day around the pool, perhaps watching a video on the giant screen. Others will have scheduled spa appointments. Some may be anxious to get to the shipís lounge for an afternoon of bingo. Some may even opt for a decadent leisurely lunch in the restaurant, followed by a movie in the cabin and a nap. There are a zillion options they could be doing. Meanwhile, below decks, something quite different will be going on.
About 10:00 tomorrow morning, Caribbean Princess will arrive at Grand Cayman. Remember last time you were at Grand Cayman? You tendered ashore, didnít you? Thereís no deepwater port there, so cruise ships can dock, and tomorrow wonít be any different.
Just after it anchors offshore at George Town, Caribbean Princess will put all her tenders in the water just like it used to before Hurricane Ivan came through. The only difference is that this time, they will be filled with supplies instead of passengers. (Passengers wonít be allowed ashore. Grand Cayman still isnít ready, even for those curious one who just want to look around.)
For the next six hours, all of the tenders will shuttle back and forth, ferrying the supplies ashore in a constant stream.
Now, do you want to be even more impressed? The crew members will have to load every one of those tenders by hand. You canít drive a forklift onto a tender.
Itís not like the crew of Caribbean Princess isnít practiced in filling a tender with supplies by hand. Every week when the ship calls at Princess Cays, all the supplies need to be taken ashore the same way. The difference is that everything the passengers will consume during their day on the beach can be carried in just two tenders. This operation at Grand Cayman will have all the shipís tenders shuttling back and forth nonstop for six hours.
During that time, the complete 150 tons of cargo will be lifted and carried and tugged and pushed by hand by Caribbean Princessí crew members.
Donating $50,000 to buy supplies is impressive. Having a ship make a special stop to deliver them is even more impressive. Lifting and carrying almost 150 tons of supplies by hand into tenders is the definition of commitment to the cause.
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