Thousands of Caribbean hurricane evacuees arrive in Florida

Arlene Satchell, Sun Sentinel on

Published in Weather News

More than 1,400 people aboard the Adventure of the Seas were from the U.S. Virgin Islands, according to a tourism official.

Some 866 passengers boarded the ship Friday in St. Croix, and another 560 from St. Thomas and St. John joined them Saturday before it departed for Fort Lauderdale, said Beverly Nicholson-Doty, the territory's commissioner of tourism, in a news release Sunday.

The Adventure of the Seas' relief trip brings the total number of people evacuated from the U.S. Virgin Islands on "mercy cruises" to 3,000 since hurricanes Maria and Irma, Nicholson-Doty said.

Other islanders -- close to 1,500 -- were also able to escape the harsh living conditions created by the storms on mercy flights sponsored by airlines such as Delta, United and JetBlue.

"These gestures go a long way ... to help the people of the Virgin Islands get back on our feet and get our economy moving again," said Nicholson-Doty.

Adventure of the Seas' regular Sept. 30 cruise was canceled to facilitate the relief mission. The cruise ship will return to its home port of San Juan on Friday to prepare for its next scheduled sailing the following day. That sailing will operate on an amended itinerary, which will replace St. Croix with Martinique, Royal Caribbean said.

Passengers booked on the canceled cruise received a full refund of the fare and fees paid, and a 25 percent discount for a future cruise booked within 30 days, according to the Miami-based cruise operator. Prepaid shore excursions were also refunded.

(c)2017 Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)

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