Cruise lines send ships to help evacuate St. Vincent as volcano threatens island

Apr 9, 2021

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Royal Caribbean Group and Carnival Cruise Line are sending empty ocean liners to the eastern Caribbean island of St. Vincent to assist with the evacuation of thousands of people as an eruption from La Soufriere volcano appears likely.

“An explosive phase of the eruption may begin with very little warning,” the University of the West Indies Seismic Research Center said in a statement to the Associated Press.

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Carnivals’ Legend and Paradise vessels along with Royal Caribbean’s Serenade of the Seas and Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Reflection (RC and Celebrity have the same parent company) are expected to dock at the island Friday to help transport some of the 16,000 people who live within the volcano’s red zone and have been forced to evacuate.

Related: The 8 classes of Carnival Cruise Line ships, explained

Islands that will be accepting evacuees include St. Lucia, Grenada, Barbados and Antigua.

The pandemic is complicating evacuation efforts because the cruise lines will require people boarding the ships to be vaccinated, as will the nearby islands where the evacuees will be taken. St. Vincent officials are talking with their counterparts on other islands so that ID cards would be accepted, as not every island resident has a passport.

The timing of the rescue operation worked well for the cruise lines, which have largely remained out of service since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Carnival announced earlier this week that it had pushed back its return to service by canceling all of its June sailings. Royal Caribbean announced on Thursday that it’s canceled all June cruises, with some exceptions in places such as the Bahamas and the Eastern Mediterranean.

Related: When will cruise ships resume sailing? A line-by-line guide

Seismologists who monitor the volcano alerted island authorities about a possible eruption after noting seismic activity around 3 a.m. Thursday, suggesting magma was rising closer to the surface. Currently, the volcanic alert level sits at orange, which means an increased likelihood of an eruption.

Scientists have been closely monitoring the volcano for seismic activity since December, when an effusive eruption occurred. During an effusive eruption, lava flows steadily out of a volcano, rather than spewing out as during an eruption.

La Soufriere last erupted in 1979. It is one of 19 active volcanos in the eastern Caribbean.

Featured photo by Vadim_Nefedov/Getty Images.

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