Frantic tourists were left stranded on the Caribbean Island of St Thomas during Hurricane Irma after they were unable to board a Marriott rescue ship that didn’t allow those who were not hotel guests to board.
As high winds picked up reaching almost 200mph, the vacationers were shocked after they were told they couldn’t board the ship because they didn’t have reservations with the hotel.
Naomi Ayala, one of those present, took video of the incident.
She wrote:”Marriott Hotels turned 30 ppl away to leave St Thomas. The boat said yes. Marriott said we could not board to escape #hurricanejose to go to San Juan. They have 200 open seats.
Update: they called the Marriott CEO. He didn’t want to take the liability.
Update 2: the boat actually holds 1800. They had 500 passengers. 1300 open seats.”
In the video that showed the ship leaving the dock, you can hear her saying:
“They shut the lights off here in order to get us to go.
“This was a decision of Marriott who did not let us get on this boat so we could get on flights home.
“Instead we have to ride out Hurricane Jose when we just went through Hurricane Irma a few days ago.
“We don’t have food or water, we are stranded.”
Another user wrote:
“Marriott has just left us and 35 people on the dock in St.Thomas, they had 200 seats still on board but since we didn’t have a Marriott reservation, we weren’t allowed on the boat,” one witness wrote. “They called the CEO and he said they didn’t want the liability… Most of these people don’t have anywhere to go and now we are stranded at the Port…. trying to get us back to our hotel… please share the hell out of this. They denied humanitarian aid to women, elderly people and children much less Erik Fox and I. Please share!!!!”
Amanda Bentley confirmed the story, saying: “The Marriott of St Thomas turned away people to leave the island because they weren’t hotel guests.
“They chartered a boat that held plenty of people and only took their guests, refusing to allow anyone else to board.
“They just left them at the pier.”
Marriott did respond, eventually, in a public statement by giving an apology… sort of:
“There were a number of additional people gathered at the dock who were not our guests who also expressed a desire to leave St. Thomas.
“We very much wanted to assist these other travelers to Puerto Rico, however, the Marriott team on-the-ground was told they had no authorization to board additional passengers.”
Some companies are doing their part, however, like Royal Caribbean.
From The Mirror:
“Royal Caribbean cruise ships were also being drafted to drop off food and supplies and ferry people off the island.
The Majesty of the Seas, which can fit 2,767 guests, brought water, ice and food to the island before taking the stranded tourists to San Juan.
Royal Caribbean also plans to redirect its 3,114-passenger Adventure of the Seas to the hard-hit island of St. Martin.”
Some speculated that Marriott may not have had authorization from a law enforcement agency, and that was why they were unable to bring on those additional passengers.
If they did, in fact, have their hands legally tied, then the action is more understandable, but they still should have made more of an effort to help those who were literally begging them for help.
If this was just the act of someone who couldn’t be bothered to help those in need, then these actions are unforgivable.
I suppose we’ll find the truth of it out soon enough.
H/T: The Mirror