As Hurricane Irma proceeds toward South Florida with apocalyptic fury, it is getting harder and harder to find a place of safety or a way to escape. Gasoline and supplies are in short supply. The few north-south roads out of the state are clogged with traffic. Shelters are filling rapidly. Royal Caribbean International took a different approach to evacuating its 1,500 employees in Port Miami. Yesterday, it put them aboard the 2,252-passenger Enchantment of the Seas and sailed out of the Port of Miami, away from the path of Hurricane Irma.
The Miami Herald reports: Royal Caribbean canceled Enchantment’s regular sailing scheduled for Friday earlier in the week, said spokeswoman Cynthia Martinez, and decided to offer the ship to employees and their families — free of charge. “Felt that was the right thing to do,” Martinez said in an email.
Guests from the Enchantment’s previous sailings who wished to stay aboard because they could not leave Florida were allowed to do so, she said. No one will be charged for staterooms, food, entertainment or gratuities.
Enchantment will return to Miami once the port reopens.
On Thursday, competitor Norwegian Cruise Line was slammed by Florida Sen. Marco Rubio for arriving in Miami a day early and dropping off thousands of tourists, some of whom were struggling to get home due to mass flight cancellations. The cruise line was ultimately able to accommodate most passengers into another of its ships, also sailing away from the storm, or into area hotels.
Thanks to Irwin Bryan for contributing to this post.