Cruise lines face scrutiny after false claims that evacuation by ships is only for vaccinated people in St Vincent

Apr 13, 2021

The past few days have been devastating for the people on the Caribbean island of St. Vincent after La Soufriere volcano erupted several times in an explosion of ash and hot gas. The larges eruption happen this Monday, since the volcanic activity started last week, and poses a serious threat to residents yet to be evacuated.

Many of the neighboring islands offered to help and accept evacuees including Antigua, St. Lucia, Grenada and Barbados. Carnival and Royal Caribbean immediately deployed 4 cruise ships with a good intention to assist with the evacuation and provide temporary refuge and transport to neighboring islands.

And yet, they were somehow caught in a news media frenzy, and negative publicity after rumors started that the cruise ships will accept only vaccinated evacuees. Things went so far that Royal Caribbean and Michael Bayley President and CEO of Royal Caribbean International, needed to clear things out on social media about the false rumors.

The official response from Royal Caribbean International is that all people who are to be evacuated on cruise ships will need ONLY a negative Covid test before boarding. They don’t need to be fully vaccinated to bard the ships.

“Royal Caribbean has not made vaccinations a requirement for St Vincent evacuees. Government officials of St. Vincent have offered to do their best to make sure all who board will be tested and vaccinated in order to receive refuge in neighboring countries, but this is at their initiative. We stand ready to provide any additional assistance as the relief efforts continue.” said Royal Caribbean spokesperson.

So how this all started, and how the facts got twisted along the way?

It all started with an emotional press conference by Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, addressing his nation in tears. You can see the video below and hear what he actually said.


The Prime Minister said that the Chief Health Officer tells me WHAT SHE WANTS TO DO is to that those who are vaccinated she can get them going there on the ships if they chose to.


Mainstream media, and shortly after, other local news outlets, reported that:

“Prime Minister Gonsalves said on Thursday that in order to board the cruise ships sent to evacuate people from the island, evacuees MUST BE VACCINATED, while the nearby island nations that are planning to accept refugees will also require vaccinations. He also recommended that those who arrive in shelters on St. Vincent be vaccinated."

Twisting words in order to get a sensational story is highly unethical especially when people face a catastrophic disaster and need help. The cruise ships with all their good intentions and limited crew on board have done an outstanding job.

Very few reported about the provisions and supplies the small number of the crew of the Serenade of the Seas have been preparing when the ship docked at St. Vincent to pick up evacuees. The first photos from the Serenade of the Seas response in St. Vincent were posted by the crew member from Martina Aranguren who runs the popular blog "The Curious Lens of Martina from Argentina." Martina shared photos of the crew preparing food for the evacuees, as well as photos from the cruise ship docking with the volcano in the back.

But even she got negative responses after posting photos of her with the volcano in the back. There will always be people with negative opinions, searching for something bad in others' good and honest intentions.

So there are your facts and I hope this clears many questions. Another fact is that the haters will hate, and the media will always look for sensational stories, because of the simple fact that THEY SELL MORE than the good stories. 

Keep on going Martina you are doing such an amazing job. Hats off to Royal Caribbean and Carnival for offering a helping hand.

Photo Credit: Martina Aranguren