Cruise ships are well known for being floating havens for holidaymakers, offering a place to get away from the worries of the world and simply relax. But sometimes they provide a very different kind of haven, for those who have found themselves in unfortunate or even desperate circumstances. Most recently a number of cruise lines were instrumental in aiding those who had their lives overturned by Hurricane Dorian, but this is far from the first time that cruise lines and cruise ships have come to the rescue of those in need. Read on to discover just a few of the occasions on which cruise ships have saved the day.
In early September Hurricane Dorian became a Category 5 storm and made landfall in the Bahamas, causing catastrophic damage estimated at $7 billion and claiming an as yet unknown number of lives. For many cruise lines, the Bahamas are a massively popular destination, and when Dorian cut a swathe of destruction across the nation many of these lines sprang into action. Cruise ships brought doctors, nurses, food and water to the islands. Some lines, including Royal Caribbean, dedicated vessels to ferry survivors to safety while others poured funds into emergency relief efforts. Oceania Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Lines and Regent Seven Seas Cruises partnered with the world’s leading volunteer disaster relief organisation, All Hands and Hearts, in raising money to aid those impacted by Hurricane Dorian.
Dorian wasn’t the first hurricane to rip through Caribbean cruising grounds. In 2017, Hurricane Irma caused havoc in many different nations including Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Saint Martin and Anguilla. Royal Caribbean jumped to rescue, sending Majesty of the Seas to deliver water, ice and other necessary supplies to the U.S. Virgin Islands and evacuate storm victims to San Juan, and diverting Adventure of the Seas to St. Thomas and St. Maarten to aid in provisioning and evacuation. Norwegian Cruise Line also came to the aid of those affected by Irma, sending Norwegian Sky to St. Thomas to deliver supplies, help out in humanitarian efforts and take part in evacuations.
The Icelandic Volcano Debacle
In 2010, the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull erupted, spewing ash high into the atmosphere across northwestern Europe. This meant that in affected areas, air travel was no longer an option, leaving many travellers stranded. Celebrity Cruises’ newly christened vessel Celebrity Eclipse scooped up hundreds of holidaymakers - many of whom were children - so they could return home in time for the school term to start.
Rescues at Sea
It’s a serious business when a vessel gets stranded at sea for whatever reason, and over the years cruise ships have come to the aid of various ships in distress. In 2015, Holland America Line’s MS Noordam rescued 41 people from a sightseeing boat in Alaska’s Glacier Bay National Park, after their vessel experiences mechanical issues. A year later, the Sun Princess picked up 5 people from a small boat that was drifting in the fog off the coast of Vanuatu, and the Carnival Spirit and Pacific Pearl teamed up in an inter-cruise-line effort to aid 6 people aboard a yacht stranded 280 nautical miles off the coast of Sydney.
So next time you go to book a cruise, remember that the ship you’ll be holidaying on may have made a real difference in the world, as well as providing countless people with a place to escape the rat race and truly relax.