Cruise Lines Help Evacuate Citizens After Eruption on St. Vincent

A tower of ash from St. Vincent's volcano, La Soufrière, April 9 (UWI Seismic Research Centre)

Published Apr 12, 2021 3:36 PM by The Maritime Executive

When a volcanic eruption threatened local residents on the Caribbean island of St. Vincent last week, three cruise lines dispatched ships to assist in an emergency evacuation.

On April 8, St. Vincent Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves ordered an evacuation for the northern tip of the island, where the risk of damage from the eruption was highest. All personnel were ordered to leave with immediate effect, and about 2,000 people have been provided with emergency shelter, according to the government of St. Vincent. Some evacuees mustered in Kingstown on the island's leeward side for ferry transport to nearby St. Lucia. 

The cruise ships Serenade of the Seas, Celebrity Reflection and Carnival Legend were dispatched to assist with a possible evacuation request. Serenade of the Seas berthed at a pier in Kingstown on the morning of April 9, departing later the same day for Castries, St. Lucia. She was the only vessel to come alongside the dock and to make a transit to another nearby island, based on AIS data provided by Pole Star. The Serenade and the Celebrity Reflection rendezvoused briefly off St. Lucia on the morning of April 11, and all three ships were waiting off St. Vincent on April 12. 

The government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro also sent assistance. A battered Venezuelan landing craft - identifiable by its hull number as the ex-South Korean LST Goajira (T-63) - arrived in Kingstown on Monday, carrying "much needed supplies and equipment," according to St. Vincent Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves.

Office of Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves

Eruptions continued Monday, with a new giant ash cloud towering 55,000 feet and pyroclastic flows (moving mixtures of rock and ash) cascading down the western slope of the volcano. According to the UWI Seismic Research Centre, the volcanic activity could last days or weeks, based on the patterns seen in previous eruptions.