US Virgin Islands Hotel & Tourism Association

Approximately 4,500 residents and visitors who have been impacted by Hurricanes Irma and Maria have been evacuated from the U.S. Virgin Islands as of Oct. 1.

Thanking the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association, Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean Cruises for their assistance in providing humanitarian relief and mercy missions from the territory, Commissioner of Tourism Beverly Nicholson-Doty reported that more than 1,400 people left the territory on Sept. 30 on Royal Caribbean’s Adventure of the Seas.

She disclosed that 866 passengers boarded the vessel on St. Croix on Sept. 29, and close to 560 individuals in the St. Thomas/St. John district boarded the ship before it departed for Fort Lauderdale on Sept. 30.

The additional seats extended to the Government of the U.S. Virgin Islands for this sailing, once it was determined how many passengers had boarded in San Juan, allowed the Department of Tourism team at the Emergency Operations Command to clear the majority of residents and visitors who had been on waiting lists to be evacuated from the territory.

The ship docked in Fort Lauderdale on Oct. 3. A total of 3,000 passengers have now left the territory on mercy cruises as a result of the devastating storms.

Nicholson-Doty was also effusive in her praise of airline partners Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and, in particular, JetBlue Airways for helping to transport close to 1,500 passengers by air as of Oct. 1. She noted that 150 people on St. Croix left the island on Oct. 1 on a JetBlue mercy flight, and that the department was working to assist additional residents with their transportation needs in the following days.

“These gestures go a long way in helping people and advancing our government’s efforts to return the territory to a degree of normalcy as we recover and rebuild,” said Nicholson-Doty. She noted that the territory’s travel and tourism partners on the U.S. mainland have expended precious resources “to help the people of the Virgin Islands get back on our feet and get our economy moving again.”

The commissioner reported that weekend discussions with Gov. Kenneth E. Mapp, members of his cabinet and the business community on St. Croix (similar to a meeting held the prior week in the St. Thomas/St. John district) were productive and focused on the phased re-opening of the territory to land and cruise visitors.

She confirmed that the Cyril E. King Airport on St. Thomas is open, and the Henry E. Rohlsen Airport on St. Croix was scheduled to open on Oct. 5.