PALM BEACH, Fla. — The Grand Celebration cruise ship returned to the Port of Palm Beach on Wednesday morning from a humanitarian mission to the Bahamas in the wake of Hurricane Dorian.
Officials said hundreds of volunteers delivered 800 tons of supplies to storm victims on Grand Bahama Island.
"They need help now. Whatever we do now is of huge impact," said Oneil Khosa, Chief Executive Officer of Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line. "What we do today will lay the groundwork for future recovery."
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Khosa said 10,000 meals were cooked on the ship and delivered to hurricane victims. Volunteers went into homes on the island and gave families food and water. They also entertained victims by throwing them a party at Independence Park in Freeport with music, food, and a movie.
"The hope, the smiles on the faces of the children, the time they got to bond and tell us their stories, it was very humane. Because they want us to hear them," said Khosa.
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Khosa added the cruise line is talking to the Bahamian government to find ways to continue these humanitarian missions.
"What they need is volunteers and people on the ground by their side, helping them to put up plywood, to rebuild their roof, to clean their roads," said Khosa.
Just over 200 Bahamians joined the ride back to Palm Beach and a majority of them were met by friends and family. They were required to have necessary documentation to enter the U.S. and pay $49 per person, according to the CEO.
"We will donate all of the proceeds back to Grand Bahama to recover. We are charging this because we thought it's a good benchmark to make sure that people who we bring back are properly documented and are not seen by the county of becoming a burden,” Khosa told WPTV on Monday .
Cruise line officials said that while no additional missions are planned to the Bahamas, the ship is a great lifeline to victims and if these humanitarian trips continue regularly, it could speed up the recovery in by weeks or months.
"We need your help to keep this going," said Khosa. "We need able-minded people, like-minded people to get together and keep bringing them volunteers and supplies."
To donate to the Bahamas Relief Cruise, click here.