Disney Nears Post-Irma Park Restart as Cruise Lines Bounce Back

(Bloomberg) -- Florida’s tourism leaders, from Walt Disney World to Carnival cruises, are quickly getting back to business thanks to Hurricane Irma’s last-minute detour to the west.

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. led cruise stocks higher as investors concluded there would be little long-range fallout for customers in the Caribbean, the industry’s largest market, while Walt Disney Co. said it would reopen its Florida theme parks Tuesday.

Florida’s vacation industry was racing to get off the mat after Irma shut down much of the the state, including magnets like Miami and Orlando. Delta Air Lines Inc. and American Airlines Group Inc. planned to restart some service Monday night, with flights to harder-hit areas like Key West not expected to resume until later. The state drew almost 113 million tourists last year and supported more than 1.4 million jobs.

Shares of Royal Caribbean, the world’s second-largest cruise operator, rose as much as 5 percent and were trading at $121.47 at 1:49 p.m. in New York. Carnival Corp., the largest cruise company, advanced 3.6 percent and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. was ahead 3.4 percent. Disney was little changed at $97.07, while American added 4.8 percent and Delta was up 3.4 percent.

For cruise lines, the effects of storms such as Harvey and Irma “don’t recur or last much beyond the actual event,” Susquehanna analyst Rachael Rothman wrote in a note. While lost revenue and cash flows are real, “they are relatively minor in an annual context.”

Still several stops on cruise ports of call suffered extensive damage, including the islands of St. Thomas, St. John and St. Maarten, where about 1,200 Americans were evacuated. Cuba, a new stop for cruise lines, was also hard hit. At least 15 ports were damaged, with eight almost destroyed, according to the website Cruisecritic.com.

New Itineraries

Cruise operators said some stops would be off their itineraries for the time being. 

Norwegian won’t be sending ships to the eastern Caribbean until November at the earliest, and will reroute cruises to western stops, according to an emailed statement.

Norwegian’s Escape, with 4,000 passengers who had been cruising the Caribbean before Irma hit, will depart Cozumel, Mexico, Monday evening, and head back to Miami. The company’s Miami headquarters will remain closed until Wednesday. Call centers continue to operate.

Royal Caribbean said its ship, Adventure of the Seas, made a humanitarian stop in St. Maarten on Sunday and another, Majesty of the Seas, would stop in St. Thomas and St. Maarten, bringing supplies and picking up evacuees.

Disney, the owner of four theme parks in Orlando, Florida, along with numerous hotels and attractions, said it would resume normal operations Tuesday. A Sept. 11 cruise on the Disney Dream was canceled, according to the company’s blog. Hotels were open, with some services and amenities being adjusted. 

“Based on the latest forecasts for Hurricane Irma and keeping safety top of mind, Walt Disney World Resort and Disney Springs will be closed through Monday, September 11,” the company said.

Theme Parks

Universal Orlando, owned by Comcast Corp., and SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. also were planning to restart on Tuesday. Legoland, in nearby Winter Haven, operates on a shortened schedule after Labor Day and is normally closed Tuesdays and Wednesday. The park shut down on Sept. 9 because of the storm and was scheduled to reopen Sept. 14.

In all, about 50 cruises across seven lines were impacted, according to Cruisecritic.com, with a total of 20 canceled. Carnival said on its blog Monday that six voyages were called off, and that it was offering refunds. Royal Caribbean on Monday canceled two cruises scheduled to depart for Cuba and the Bahamas. Both operators planned to resume sailings out of Florida on Tuesday, according to their websites.

Shares of the cruise companies declined last week in anticipation of Irma, with Norwegian dropping 5.8 percent, Royal Caribbean losing 5.5 percent and Carnival off 5.2 percent. All are based in Miami.

Airlines canceled 13,136 flights in Florida and in the Caribbean between Sept. 1 and Sept. 13, of which 9,483 were to or from airports in Florida, the flight tracking service FlightAware said Monday.

Delta said it planned to restore service in Palm Beach, Orlando and Jacksonville Monday evening. Service to cities including Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Tampa were expected to resume Tuesday. In the Caribbean, Delta restarted its San Juan, Puerto Rico, operation Sept. 8, and said it anticipates the resumption of flights to several other destinations through Wednesday.

American plans to resume limited flights Monday at Nassau, the Bahamas, and Antigua, following the restart of flights Sept. 9 at San Juan and Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Some Caribbean airports were closed Monday, while others such as St. Maarten and St. Thomas will be shuttered through Sept. 15, the airline said. 

Flights at most Florida airports affected by the storm will be suspended through Monday or Tuesday, American said.

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