The Port of Palm Beach is asking Governor Ron DeSantis to approve a 30-day emergency funding for Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line to serve as an emergency relief charter vessel.
According to the letter from the Port of Palm Beach Chair Katherine Waldron, the port is dedicating full-time Port employees to the Bahamas relief efforts and have designated drop-off and inspection areas to accommodate the dozens of volunteer organizations throughout the region currently collecting goods, clothing and food in their relief efforts. However, Waldron says the Port is lacking and in "desperate need" of one essential missing element: a vessel to transport the medical, search and rescue, construction volunteers, along with millions of dollars' worth of items being donated to the efforts.
Waldron says The Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line has demonstrated the ability to fulfill that missing element but is unable to do that without passenger income and would need to relocate to other tourist markets such as Key West, Bimini and the Virgin Islands. In order to keep the cruise line at the Port of Palm Beach to help with relief efforts, monthly costs would need to be reimbursed, Waldron says. The total cost for 30 days is $9 million.
"It is for this purpose that I am respectfully writing to you today," Waldron says in the letter to the governor. "To request emergency funding from the state of Florida for 30-days of operations for the Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line vessel to serve as an emergency relief charter vessel."
In the letter, Waldron says none of the funds will be used for docking, parking or tenant fees, usually owed to the Port of Palm Beach from the cruise line. The Port's loss of income would be significant, but can be absorbed, Waldron says.
"I am confident, that with the help by the state of Florida, through your office and agencies, we can implement a coordinated and effective 30-day operation that can be measured and evaluated," Waldron says in the letter.
Here is the full letter to the governor: