Several cruise lines are sending ships to the Caribbean after Hurricane Irma hit the region last week. The vessels are delivering provisions and picking up stranded tourists. Irma caused extensive damage to Barbuda, St Martin and the Virgin Islands, killing 22 people.
Royal Caribbean International has evacuated its Miami-based staff on to Enchantment of the Seas, and from there, CEO Michael Bayley told the Miami Herald that four ships will be used for Irma relief efforts as the full-stocked ships have space due to cancellations. Majesty of the Seas is heading to the U.S. Virgin Islands where it will deliver provisions and offer meals to first responders before taking on stranded tourists. Adventure of the Seas will sail to St. Maarten. Empress of the Seas is standing by to assist the people of Florida once Hurricane Irma passes. Enchantment of the Seas will also return to Florida after the storm.
Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Sky is heading for the Virgin Islands. Norwegian Escape is in Cozumel, Mexico, full with 4,000 displaced guests who were unable to secure a flight home.
Currently, the U.S. Coast Guard does not have any active maritime search and rescue cases in Puerto Rico or the Virgin Islands associated with Hurricane Irma. Instead, the agency is working with the Virgin Islands Emergency Operations Center on land-based rescue operations.
Staff from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are also on the ground in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. FEMA maintains commodities strategically located at distribution centers throughout the U.S. and its territories. More than 209,000 meals and 114,000 liters of water are positioned across the Virgin Islands, and more than 290,000 meals and 600,000 liters of water are positioned in Puerto Rico.
Hurricane Irma has sustained winds of 155 miles per hour, making it one of the most powerful Atlantic Hurricanes ever observed. It is likely to impact the region’s multi-billion dollar tourism industry during the peak winter season. More than 26 million international tourists were expected to visit this year.
The region is now bracing for Category 4 Hurricane Jose.
U.S. Coast Guard Sector San Juan crews start cleanup operations in Pueto Rico: