Tags: Hurricane Irma | marriott | rescue | ship | irma

Marriott Rescue Ship for Guests Only, Others Left in Irma's Wake

Image: Marriott Rescue Ship for Guests Only, Others Left in Irma's Wake

Marriott Resort St. Thomas U.S. Virgin Islands (Kaye Eileen Oberstar/Dreamstime)

Wednesday, 13 Sep 2017 09:10 AM

A Marriott rescue ship that was sent to St. Thomas to pick up Hurricane Irma survivors in the Caribbean Friday only picked up hotel guests, leaving other tourists behind with seats available, witnesses told The Washington Post.

The Marriott hotel chain, which chartered the ship, though, pointing fingers at the St. Thomas port manager for the decision to leave people being on the damaged island with dwindling resources after the storm slammed into it last week, the newspaper said.

The ship accepted registered guests of the chain's hotels and high-priced resorts on St. Thomas Island, leaving about three dozen people sitting at the port as it sailed off with hundreds of empty seats, the Post reported.

"We just felt hopelessness," Cody Howard, a professional storm chaser who had been contracted to shoot weather footage on the island, told the Post, noting that island's airport was closed as well.

"We're grown men. We could take care of ourselves. We didn't need a whole lot. But it was really hard to see people with kids and elderly people who don't have anywhere to stay get turned away by this boat … For some people, that was the only [glimmer] of hope. After the boat left, they just felt hopeless and helpless," Howard continued.

Howard posted his frustrations on Facebook.

Howard posted on Facebook that he finally left the island by a cruise ship on Tuesday.

A Marriott spokesman told London's The Sun in a statement that officials told their cruise that they could not take additional guests off the island.

"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," the spokesman told The Sun. "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.

"With Hurricane Jose on a path to St Thomas, the ferry had a tight window to pick up passengers and safely depart. As a company, Marriott places a priority on the safety and security of our guests, but we also have a long tradition of looking out for the greater community. In this case, we weren't able to help and as grateful as we are that we were able to transport our guests, we are saddened that we were not able to do the same for more people," the statement continued.

Marriott told The Washington Post in a statement that the St. Thomas port manager informed them that they could not accept people not on its approved manifest and it was enforced by dock security.

Media reports did not include comments from the St. Thomas port manager about the controversy.

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A Marriott rescue ship that was sent to St. Thomas to pick up Hurricane Irma survivors in the Caribbean Friday only picked up hotel guests, leaving other tourists behind with seats available, witnesses told The Washington Post.
marriott, rescue, ship, irma
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2017-10-13
Wednesday, 13 Sep 2017 09:10 AM
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