Florida Hotels Offer Big Discounts To Those Escaping Florence

Florence victims are being welcomed by Florida hotel chains

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — With Hurricane Florence barreling toward their home near Wilmington, North Carolina, Allison Hales Jordan and her husband boarded up their house, packed up their car and headed to Walt Disney World in Florida with their two teenage children.

“When we decided where to go, everybody was going west, but we decided we should go as far south as possible, which is weird since Florida gets hurricanes,” said Jordan who works as a preschool director in Burgaw, North Carolina.

State emergency officials said Thursday they had no way of tracking how many residents from the Carolinas had escaped to Florida this week. But Florida hotels were offering special discounts for hurricane evacuees and Florida ports were opening their terminals to cruise ships making unexpected ports of call.

Port Canaveral along Florida’s Space Coast had two ships visiting unexpectedly when Hurricane Florence made it impossible to stop in Bermuda.

Fierce winds and heavy rain from Hurricane Florence hit Wilmington, North Carolina before sunrise on Friday. (Sept. 14)


New York-based Norwegian Escape and its 4,200 passengers stopped at the port Tuesday. Royal Caribbean’s Baltimore-based Grandeur of the Seas and its 2,000 passengers was diverted to Port Canaveral on Wednesday and was set to leave on Friday. Passengers on both ships took excursions to theme parks in Orlando, local beaches and the nearby Kennedy Space Center.

The reversal in fortunes in a state that was ravaged by Hurricane Irma last year and threatened by Hurricane Matthew the previous year wasn’t lost on Port Canaveral CEO John Murray.

“For the last two years, we’ve had our ships going to other ports, but this year it’s just the opposite for us,” Murray said.

Hotelier Harris Rosen was offering steep discounts at his nine hotels in the Orlando area for Hurricane Florence evacuees. The prices ranged from $59 to $79 a night, depending on the hotel, and all pets were welcome. Rosen has been offering the hurricane discounts for decades, but they typically are used by Floridians escaping the coasts.

“I get more hugs and kisses during hurricane season,” Rosen said.

“I feel guilty but we’re trying to make the best of the situation,” Jordan said. “We’re trying to find some Disney magic, even when we don’t know what we are going to find when we go back and we don’t know when we will go back home. We’re here even though are hearts are in North Carolina.”

Jim Williams is the Washington Bureau Chief, Digital Director as well as the Director of Special Projects for Genesis Communications. He is starting his third year as part of the team. This is Williams 40th year in the media business, and in that time he has served in a number of capacities. He is a seven time Emmy Award winning television producer, director, writer and executive. He has developed four regional sports networks, directed over 2,000 live sporting events including basketball, football, baseball hockey, soccer and even polo to name a few sports. Major events include three Olympic Games, two World Cups, two World Series, six NBA Playoffs, four Stanley Cup Playoffs, four NCAA Men’s National Basketball Championship Tournaments (March Madness), two Super Bowl and over a dozen college bowl games. On the entertainment side Williams was involved s and directed over 500 concerts for Showtime, Pay Per View and MTV Networks.