On September 20th, Hurricane Maria made landfall on Puerto Rico as a Category 4 hurricane with winds of 155 miles per hour. It proved to be one of the most devastating storms in Puerto Rico’s history, causing the entire island to lose power and access to most of life’s basic necessities. From the moment Hurricane Maria left the island, the people of Puerto Rico got to work on repairing and rehabilitating their once beautiful island. On November 1st, Carnival Cruise Line sent the Bold Man and the Sea Media team to Puerto Rico to document all that had happened since.
We encountered adversity even before we arrived at the island. Finding flights out of Puerto Rico was a mission, to say the least. Most hotels in the area were still closed and the few that were open were booked solid by FEMA workers. Our team became travel booking gurus after this one! We found flights and hotel reservations – flying out through St. Thomas and the Dominican Republic. We were like ping pong balls in flight, but there was no stopping us from getting to Puerto Rico and accomplishing our goal of bringing guests back to the island.
As we stepped foot on the island, the beauty of Old San Juan shined bright. Structures that had been standing for centuries – Castillo San Felipe del Morro and Castillo de San Cristobal – remained unharmed by the storm. Meanwhile, the Puerto Rican people utilized generators and other concessions to bring life back to a “new normal” on the island. We were determined to help by doing what we love: telling the stories of the proud Puerto Rican people and their beautiful island!
We acclimated quickly. We navigated around roads blocked by trees and downed electrical poles all while working around the occasional blackouts. No amount of darkness was going to kill what we sought out to do! Despite all the complications, there was one constant.. well, we lied! Two constants: ridiculously amazing food (we still dream of that mofongo!🤤) and the incredible ease with which the people of Puerto Rico were willing to speak to us! Wherever we went, whoever we spoke to, the people were eager to speak to us about their culture, food, home and the beauty it still held. With a positive mindset and open heart, it was clear that the people of Puerto Rico are incredibly proud of their island. Even after facing disaster, they continue to step up to bring the spirit of Puerto Rico back to life.
We met with small business owners on the island and visited several spots beloved by locals, tourists… and the Bold Man crew! 🙋🏽♂️🙋🏽 They all had one message to share with us: “we are open for business.” For Puerto Rico, tourism, especially now, is immensely important. According to our tour guide in San Juan, tourism accounts for 12-13% of Puerto Rico’s gross domestic product. That’s a lot of piña coladas, coffee, and mofongo! And trust us it’s definitely worth the trip!
After our first two trips to the island, the message was incredibly clear: welcome back to Puerto Rico! The proud people of the island were eager to share their culture with visitors once again and Carnival’s guests were excited to experience it. On November 30th, Carnival cruisers returned to Puerto Rico to indulge in the renewed tropical paradise. Whether they dipped their toes in the sand at the beach or went horseback riding through the Puerto Rican wilderness, everyone we spoke to couldn’t wait to return.
It’s been an awe-inspiring comeback for the island and its people. We’re proud to have gone on this journey. We really got to see some amazing sights and experience really cool stuff. From shooting at Bacardi to exploring El Morro while it was closed, this is a trip we’ll never forget! Seeing how the island recovered from the storm was humbling and we’re incredibly grateful to all the people we met along the way and for sharing their stories with us.