Cruise ship Caribbean relief mission hurts local businesses

With the Port of Palm Beach’s only cruise ship stationed in St. Croix to assist Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria victims, businesses at the Riviera Beach Marina say they, too, are victims of damage a hurricane did far away.

The businesses have noticed a significantdrop in customers, and wonder why the port’s only passenger ship was chosen. However, some say the passenger ship’s departure isn’t the only reason business is down at the marina just north of the port. Downtime before and after Irma and damage to nearby hotels have also contributed.


THE PORT APPROVED A SECOND CRUISE SHIP IN AUGUST

“We used to get a lot of customers from the boat, especially on the weekends,” said Pierre Msaed, general manager at Rafiki Tiki, the only restaurant at the marina’s event center. “We kept track of their luggage for them. We are trying our best. We have cut down on staff from full time to part-time until the marina comes back to life. Everybody was hurt financially from the hurricane, too.”


RAFIKI TIKI IS THE RIVIERA BEACH MARINA EVENT CENTER’S FIRST TENANT

Rafiki Tiki, which opened in March, serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and was looking forward to the winter tourism season’s start. “The first week of September was steady. Since then it has been a ghost town,” Msaed said this week.