Cruise ships are most commonly used for pleasure voyages in which the journey, the ship’s amenities and the destinations along the route all come together to create a unique experience for the passengers. Destination possibilities are endless. Some cruises take tropical routes through islands and others sail along coastlines made of ice. During hurricanes, many cruise ships reroute to provide aid to the victims of hurricanes. Hurricanes cause billions of dollars of damage and multiple cruise lines provide aid for those in need.

Cruise Ships Turn Into Shelters

Hurricane Katrina was one of the most devastating hurricanes to hit the U.S. Katrina caused $125 billion in damage to New Orleans and parts of Florida. Three Carnival Cruise Line ships were chartered to provide shelter for at least 7,000 displaced people. The cruise line canceled thousands of passengers in order to provide much-needed accommodations for those in need.

Hurricane Sandy destroyed much of New Jersey and New York in 2012. It caused close to $62 billion in damage. Carnival Corp. offered free cruises to the victims of Hurricane Sandy alongside a donation of $2 million divided between four charities that provided relief. Norwegian Cruise Lines welcomed 150 New York-area mothers and their loved ones aboard its Mother’s Day sailing trip in an effort to alleviate some of the hardships these women were facing. 

2017 Hurricane Season

The hurricane season in 2017 caused multiple, devastating storms. There were four main storms: Harvey, Irma, Maria and Nate. They were so notable their names have been retired from the hurricane names list. There was an estimated cost of $200 billion in damage; although, the final costs will not be known for years. Several cruise lines provided aid after each hurricane.

  • Royal Caribbean was one of the first cruise companies to provide aid after Hurricane Irma. It sent ships back toward the storm to rescue those stranded. In addition to repurposing their ships, Royal Caribbean matched Hurricane Irma donations up to $1 million.
  • Carnival Cruise Lines pledged a minimum of $2 million in aid after Hurricane Harvey to rebuild and relieve affected areas of Texas. Following Hurricane Irma a few months later, the cruise company released a statement that ships were on standby to help Florida after damage.
  • Disney Cruise Line donated money after both Harvey and Irma. Disney also pledged one million dollars to the American Red Cross. The Walt Disney Company followed suit and pledged to donate another $2.5 million to help those in Florida.
  • Norwegian Cruise Line worked directly with the government to provide supplies to St. Thomas days after Hurricane Irma. The cruise line also deployed ships to aid islands in the Caribbean that had been affected earlier.

Hurricane Dorian

In August 2019, Hurricane Dorian caused about $7.5 billion in damages. Royal Caribbean committed $1 million to Dorian disaster relief, and their partners in the Holistica joint venture donated an addition $100,000. The donations included matching guest and employee donations up to $500,000. Royal Caribbean went even further than monetary donations and pledged to provide 20,000 meals each day to those in need of relief. It also sent supplies in the form of water, toilet paper, pet food, tarps, plywood, diapers, flashlights and generators.

Hurricanes cause massive amounts of damage every year. They displace residents, flood entire cities and cause trauma to those who live in the affected areas. Despite the horrors hurricanes cause, cruise lines provide aid to those affected by hurricane damage.

Darci Flatley
Photo: Flickr

Venezuelan refugees in PeruFor the last decade, Venezuela has seen a severe and damaging economic recession. As of 2018, inflation hit 130,060 percent. There are severe shortages of food and medicine and an increase in crime that has made life in Venezuela a battle for survival. Considering these factors, including President Nicolás Maduro not leaving power anytime soon, many Venezuelans have decided to pack their bags and leave their beloved homeland. In the past four years, approximately 10 percent of the population fled the country. Thankfully, shelters have opened to provide aid for Venezuelan refugees in Peru.

At first, many governments were willing to cooperate, but as more Venezuelans left, many countries established specific immigration requirements, such as having a valid passport. Even though this sounded fair for many, it closed the door to many of these refugees, as the cost of processing one visa is around 7,200 bolívars ($115); that is four times the local minimum wage.

Peru is one of the few nations that kept an open border policy for many years. However, that changed when President Martin Viscarra established that as of June 15, Venezuelans would need a passport and visa to enter Peru. That day, 5,849 people arrived at the border Peruvian border, and while some arrived just in time, others were left behind. These grim situations may make it seem that all hope is lost, but there are still many Peruvians who receive these migrants with open arms. These three shelters have given shelter and hope to Venezuelan refugees in Peru.

Casa Don Bosco

This Lima home directed by Salesian Missionaries takes part in integration projects that help newly arrived Venezuelans adapt to an entirely different culture. While it used to be an old vocational training facility, it now accommodates the needs of the refugees, by providing necessary guidance on finding housing and educating them on their fundamental workers’ rights. Casa Don Bosco also has ties with The Food Bank of Peru, allowing them to feed all the migrants that knock on their doors.

A Power Couple and Their Shelter

In June 2018, Raquel Vásquez and Ernesto Reyes, a married couple, bought an old house in the middle of the Comas district. Their mission was to provide refuge to any Venezuelan refugees that arrived in Lima. Once installed, Venezuelans are allowed to stay for up to one month for free, giving them time to find a job and better housing. Vásquez and Reyes said that opening the shelter was a necessity, especially after seeing all the refugees sleeping on the streets, penniless after spending all their money just to get to Lima. The shelter operates thanks to the couple’s own money and local donations.

Rene Cobeña’s Shelter and Business

The owner of this shelter is textile businessman Rene Cobeña, who bought an old hotel and transformed it into a safe haven. The house not only offers Venezuelans breakfast, lunch and dinner but also operates as a small business, employing the same refugees. Using his money and some donations, Cobeña buys ingredients to make arepas and donuts that the refugees sell. He has also sold some of his textile machines to fund better ingredients and transportation. Thanks to these efforts, the refugees were able to start building their savings, helping themselves and their families, and eventually leave the shelter to begin anew.

These shelters are not on alone in their efforts; despite the lack of legal assistance, the owners and many other Peruvians are giving what they can to help. Venezuelans are escaping one of the most brutal dictatorships of the last century, and all they need is a helping hand through this difficult time as Venezuelan refugees in Peru.

– Adriana Ruiz
Photo: Wikimedia