Royal Caribbean Empress of the Seas First To Arrive In The Conch Republic
By Kevin Wilkerson, PubClub.com Travel Blogger
While Key West – and all of the Florida Keys, as well – remains closed to most tourists until further notice, some non-residents will be walking down Duval Street, going into the t-shirt shops and legendary bars like Sloppy Joe’s.
Starting Sunday, Sept. 24, cruise ships will be allowed to dock in the Conch Republic.
Royal Caribbean will the the first cruise line to visit Key West after the hurricane with its Empress of the Seas. It will return on Sept. 27, as well as on Oct. 2, 7 and 11.
The ship will also visit Havana. For those unsure about traveling to these destinations, Royal Caribbean is offering a future cruise credit by the close of business on Sunday, Sept. 25. All cancellations must be completed by this time so the line can offer the stateroom to another traveler, Royal Caribbean said.
American Airlines, Delta and Silver Airways have resumed commercial air service into Key West International Airport.
“We’ll be welcoming visitors as soon as we get the full go-ahead from Monroe County officials and cities within our five distinct tourism districts,” Harold Wheeler, the Keys tourism council’s director, stated in a release.
Key West, which was hit but not slammed by Irma, is slowly springing back to life. Several of its most popular bars are open, including Sloppy Joe’s, Tree House, the patio of Hog’s Breath Saloon and Kevin’s Irish Bar. Kevin’s is even serving its full food menu.
Of course, their customers are all locals, who earlier in the week were allowed to return home.
One thing Irma could not stop are the sunsets, and the daily ritual continues at Mallory Square. This is right by the cruise ship dock and involves entertainers on unicycles eating fire. It’s a Key West tradition and that’s something Irma could only delay, not stop.