PHOTO: Port Zante at Basseterre, St. Kitts. (photo by Jason Leppert)

Before Hurricane Irma did a number on the Caribbean, St. Kitts was fostering partnerships with cruise lines.

They are sure coming in handy now as the undamaged island welcomes more visitors.

At the end of August, St. Kitts’ Minister of Tourism, International Trade, Industry and Commerce the Hon. Mr. Lindsay F.P. Grant met with Royal Caribbean International CEO and President, Michael Bayley, during his first time to the destination.

He arrived aboard the current largest cruise ship in the world—the line’s Harmony of the Seas—while on vacation.

“It was truly an honor to meet and welcome Michael Bayley to our beautiful island,” said Minister Grant, in a press release. “The relationship between St. Kitts and the Royal Caribbean cruise line is indeed a strong one. We listen carefully to their advice and recommendations, without losing focus on addressing the wider development needs of our destination, ensuring that local people share in the benefits of our expanding cruise sector.”

The meeting was a good opportunity to strengthen the collaboration between the island and the cruise line.

At the time, it was the ship’s final call to St. Kitts for the 2016-2017 season, one of its five total visits from May to August. Besides the Harmony, Royal Caribbean also added its Allure of the Seas Oasis-class sister-ship for making stops at the Caribbean island during the summer.

Fast forward to today, and St. Kitts was thankfully spared by Hurricane Irma. Seatrade Cruise News is reporting that the island received only minor damage, quoting Grant as describing the scene as, “virtually unscathed.”

READ MORE: Some Ports Benefit from Post-Irma Cruise Traffic

Port Zante at the capital of Basseterre is ready to receive cruise ships as its retail stores are open.

That’s good because Royal Caribbean is already coming back, according to USA Today. The Harmony is bypassing storm-ravaged St. Thomas and returning to St. Kitts, while the Allure is foregoing St. Maarten for Basseterre.

This pattern is likely to continue for weeks, months or even longer as devastated destinations begin the recovery process. Even more ships and lines will have to consider St. Kitts over adjacent Eastern Caribbean ports of call.

While it’s disappointing to see the frequented islands of St. Thomas and St. Martin temporarily removed from routes, it’s also a prime opportunity for lesser-known St. Kitts to shine.

READ MORE: Exploring Beautiful Saint Kitts via Caribbean Cruise

Just within the last 11 months, I visited for the first time and instantly fell in love with the island—so much so that my wife and I have gone back for a second time already and are planning our third call before the year is up.

St. Kitts, with sister island Nevis, was ranked as number one for Best Caribbean Honeymoons by US News & World Report and among the Top 10 Best Islands for a Holiday by Places To See In Your Lifetime by FlipKey.com.

The Wall Street Journal also listed it within the 10 places in the world for Where to Vacation in 2017, and Reader’s Digest (Canada) considers it one of the Top 10 Sexiest Places on the Planet.

For more information, visit www.stkittstourism.kn.

This post first appeared on TravelPulse.

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