The Port of Palm Beach has written to Florida Gov. Ron
DeSantis seeking a short-term state subsidy to keep a Bahamas Paradise Cruise
Line vessel available to help the Bahamas.
Without the $9 million grant, the line can't afford to keep
devoting its vessel to emergency relief, said a letter signed by Katherine
Waldron, chair of the Port of Palm Beach Board of Commissioners.
"Already, millions of dollars are being raised to
purchase and ship items to the Bahamas," Waldron wrote. "If the cost
of shipping, through the use of a charter vessel, can be reimbursed by the
state of Florida, then 100% of the monies being raised and the supplies being
donated can go directly to the Bahamas relief effort and not to the cost of
The two-ship Bahamas Paradise line has almost exclusively
offered short cruises between the Port of Palm Beach and Freeport. It has been
taking relief supplies to Freeport and returning with evacuees since Hurricane
Dorian's pass through the Bahamas.
Waldron said the line is unable to continue in that role
absent passenger income, and therefore plans to "relocate" to other
tourist markets such as Key West, Bimini and the Virgin Islands.
The letter said fuel, maintenance and shipboard personnel
costs amount to $9 million a month.
"None of these funds will be used for docking, parking
or tenant fees usually owed to the Port of Palm Beach from the cruise line,"
Waldron said. "The loss of income to the Port of Palm Beach will be
significant, but can be absorbed," she said.