With the La Soufriere Volcano continuing to explosively erupt on the Caribbean island of St. Vincent, the United States is preparing to evacuate all Americans from the island. The U.S. State Department warns this may be the last chance for Americans to get out of harm’s way on the island.
The U.S. Embassy is coordinating with Royal Caribbean Cruise Group’s Celebrity cruise line to secure use of the Celebrity Reflection for an evacuation on Friday. The ship has a maximum capacity of 3,046 passengers. There is no cost or travel fare for the evacuation via cruise ship. Food and water will be provided onboard the ship to evacuees at no cost to them.
The Celebrity Reflection will begin boarding American evacuees at 7am on Friday, April 16, and is scheduled to depart Kingstown Port at 1:00pm. From there, the ship will arrive in Philipsburg, Sint Maarten on the morning of Saturday, April 17, at approximately 7am.
Once on Sint Maarten, evacuees are responsible for making arrangements and paying for onward travel arrangements.
“Please plan accordingly, including potential hotel stays in Sint Maarten and booking onward commercial airline flights from the Sint Maarten Princess Juliana International Airport which offers direct flights to multiple U.S. cities, ” the U.S. State Department said in a statement.
To evacuate on the cruise ship, evacuees must complete an online manifest form; the deadline to register for the evacuation cruise is Thursday, April 15, at 12 noon. The form is here.
There are travel restrictions and requirements for evacuees. No children under 6 months, no pregnant women over 23 weeks of gestation, no individuals requiring dialysis, no individuals with terminal conditions, nor any pets are allowed. No one is allowed who has had close contact with a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 case. Additionally, all departing passengers ages 2+ are required to have a negative COVID Antigen Rapid Test within 24 hours of boarding. A printed copy of the negative result will be required prior to boarding. Guests will also be required to complete a health questionnaire before boarding. Prior to arrival on Sint Maarten, guests will also need to complete an online immigration (ED) card. Sint Maarten also requires that arriving guests have COVID-19 health insurance.
While a vaccine isn’t required, safe travel protocols are. Evacuees will need to wear masks until they reach their staterooms on-board. Evacuees that require any medicine, including insulin, should board with adequate stock for several days. Evacuees will also need to follow proper protocols and testing, and quarantine procedure for travel back to the U.S. mainland.
Scientists studying the erupting volcano aren’t sure when the explosive eruptions will end, saying the process could last days, weeks, or months. A similar eruptive period in the early 1900s lasted 10 months.