AUSTIN, Texas -- Royal Caribbean had a myriad of decisions
to make before, during and after Hurricane Dorian hit the Bahamas.
And while its Up, Up and Away helium balloon at private island CocoCay was not at the top of the list, it
was still something the company had to address. To deflate or not to deflate?
Royal Caribbean chairman Richard Fain talked about the
balloon, and Royal's other efforts surrounding Dorian, during a press breakfast
last week at Signature Travel Network's Owners' Meeting at the Fairmont Hotel
At first glance, it seems like an easy decision to deflate the
balloon and not risk hurricane damage. Giant custom helium balloons aren't exactly
for sale on Amazon.
However, deflating the balloon wasn't a cheap option. The
balloon takes over a week to inflate, and with a worldwide helium shortage,
filling Up Up and Away costs around $350,000.
The company took the more conservative route and deflated
After the storm, a team of about 300 people were flown to a
nearby island, then took boats to get to CocoCay. They worked to restore the
island, and it has since reopened.
Fain confirmed that the Up Up and Away balloon is being