Idle cruise ships have started to help evacuate some of St Vincent’s population caught up in the recent volcanic activity.
At least one Royal Caribbean International ship has taking some of the estimated 16,000 evacuees to St Lucia.
Carnival Cruise Line and Celebrity Cruises also dispatched vessels to help with the rescue efforts, including ‘Serenade of the Seas’, ‘Celebrity Reflection’ and ‘Carnival Legend’ .
However, St Vincent’s Prime Minister, Ralph Gonsalves (pictured), has announced that only those who had been vaccinated against Covid-19 would be allowed to board the ships.
He said in a broadcast: “The chief medical officer would be identifying the persons already vaccinated so that we can get them on the ship.”
The La Soufriere volcano erupted for the first time in 40 years on Friday and over the weekend sending a plume of ash cloud 3.7 miles into the sky and causing power cuts across the southern Caribbean island.
According to local media, ash fall was reported some 20 km away at the island’s Argyle International airport. Bridgetown, Barbados’ airport was also one of several in the region forced to close, due to the ash fall.
Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises were both “working closely with St Vincent authorities to assist residents most at risk,” Royal Caribbean said, adding: “All precautions will be taken to protect the health and safety of the crew and passengers who board our ships.”
Carnival Cruise Line tweeted: “We are awaiting next steps from St Vincent Government on evacuation support. Meanwhile, ‘Carnival Legend’ has trained deck and engine team to help with passenger check-in.”
Celebrity Cruises President and CEO, Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, also tweeted: “Sent ‘Celebrity Reflection’ to St Vincent to help with volcano evacuation. Taking all precautions and so grateful we can help the island’s residents.”