Royal Caribbean Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line are sending empty ships to the Caribbean to aid in Hurricane Irma rescue efforts, Bloomberg reports. The ships will be used to deliver supplies to islands and to help evacuate stranded tourists.
Norwegian Cruise Line's ship Norwegian Sky, which normally cruises between Miami and the Bahamas, is en route to St. Thomas. The Norwegian Sky is expected to arrive on Monday and it will pick up 2,000 travellers who were unable to evacuate the island prior to the hurricane.
"Acting as a responsible corporate citizen and supporting the destinations that our ships operate in is a core value of Norwegian Cruise Line," the company said in a statement released on Sunday. "In the wake of this devastating storm, we have deployed Norwegian Sky to St. Thomas, USVI to bring much needed supplies and assist in a humanitarian effort that is currently being organized by the government."
Royal Caribbean called off two upcoming cruises so the ships could be sent to St. Thomas and St. Maarten. The Miami-based cruise line cancelled Wednesday's departure of the 1,840-passenger Empress of the Seas and Friday's departure of the 2,350-passenger Majesty of the Seas so the ships could be used in rescue efforts. "We are cancelling these cruises to utilize the ship for humanitarian efforts in areas of the Caribbean with urgent need," the company said in a statement.
"We are mobilizing ships and supplies to help people in need. In coordination with the US and local governments we are dispatching ships to St. Thomas and St. Maarten and stand ready to assist Key West, Tampa and other locations," Royal Caribbean added.
Earlier this week, airlines including JetBlue, American Airlines, and Delta slashed prices on flights out of Florida and the Caribbean in order to aid evacuation efforts.