Royal Caribbean International plans to reopen its CocoCay private island in the Bahamas on Sept. 7, after survey teams on Wednesday concluded it was feasible.
Royal president Michael Bayley said a preliminary team landed on the island late on Sept. 3 and that three teams with different specialties were there on Sept. 4. He said they estimated the winds from Hurricane Dorian reached the Category 2 or 3 levels of 96 to 129 miles an hour.
Bayley said damage was greatest on the north side of the island by the pier, where the counter-clockwise circulation of a hurricane tends to steer the greatest amount of debris, while the south side of the island was relatively spared.
CocoCay, opened in June, includes a water park with a 135-foot tall waterslide billed as the tallest in North America, as well as several other waterslide platforms. “The towers are in good shape because we built them for Category 5 [winds],” Bayley said.
Royal closed CocoCay to ships before the storm and evacuated about 400 employees that live on the island.
The first ship scheduled to call on CocoCay when it reopens is the Navigator of the Seas.
Passengers won’t be able to enjoy the Up, Up and Away balloon excursion for a while, however. Bayley said the decision was taken to deflate the balloon, even though its ground rigging is built to hold it secure in winds of up to Category 2 strength.
Reflating the balloon with helium is a $300,000 job that will take five weeks to complete, Bayley said.