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

Caught up in the daily complications that life throws at them, people do not often sit back and think about how lucky they are to have a roof over their heads. Not everyone has that luxury: according to the Salvation Army, there are over 100 million homeless people in the world. Organizations like Habitat for Humanity and Greenbuilding fight to lower this statistic by building houses in underprivileged neighborhoods. Lacking access to conventional building materials, people living in impoverished areas are forced to make do with what they can find to build passable living spaces. Below are descriptions of five makeshift homes built from unusual materials. The descriptions are bittersweet, for although it is impressive that people are able to come up with such designs, it is unfortunate that they are put in such a position at all.

5 Examples of Makeshift Housing

1. Storage container homes
Widely used for shipping and storing, there is no shortage of these containers lying around out of use. Homes made from shipping containers have become a highly popularized fad and are all the rage with home décor enthusiasts, but in this context they are often used as a desperate measure rather than as a chic building material. The storage container village located in Shanghai and inhabited by poor migrants is just one example of such establishments used by the homeless in similar areas across the globe.

2. The Paul Elkins Shelter
This “mobile home” on wheels is perhaps better described as a mobile bed, as its small dimensions can hardly be described as a house. The amazingly compact, 225-lb. living space not only has a bed, however, but also a bathroom, and even has a small stove crammed inside. Although tiny, it is still useful for staying out of the elements.

3. Dai Haifei’s Egg House
It is not always in rural, historically poor areas that makeshift housing becomes a necessity. Dai Haifei was forced to create an egg-shaped dwelling when he could not afford any of the rental options available in Beijing. Built from eco-friendly materials like bamboo, wood chippings and grass seed, the six foot-high egg is also expected to grow blooms in the spring – an aesthetic bonus to a practical structure.

4. Cob homes
One of the oldest building materials known to man, cob is a mixture of sand, clay, straw, earth and water. Used for construction since prehistoric times, it is perhaps the cheapest and most readily available material in the world. Cob homes are often bolstered and adorned with wood, recycled materials found in landfills and animal fur for insulation.

5. A Hole in the Ground
With an income of just $5,000 a year, Dan Price calls an underground space, which measures eight feet around, his home. Located in the town of Joseph, Oregon, Price leases the property on which the structure is built for a meager $100 a year. The hole is equipped with a door, a small stove and pantry and electricity – but Price plans to switch to propane in the near future. He has an extremely positive attitude and could ask for nothing more, claiming that the environment is low stress.

Katie Pickle

Sources: Home Harmonizing, Build
Photo: Financial Post

The Swedish “do-it-yourself” furniture giant, IKEA, has teamed up with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to develop a flatpack shelter that can being used for refugee housing. Currently, there are over 45 million people displaced across the world because of conflict or natural disaster. IKEA is working to return dignity, security, and a life to these people.

IKEA’s flatpack shelters are chock full of innovative technology developed solely for these structures. The shelters are made from a lightweight polymer plastic, which is mounted on a steel skeleton. Refugee Housing Unit designed this polymer plastic to be strong enough to withstand the harsh climates of refugee camps, light enough to be transported cost-effectively, and to create privacy. Each shelter also has a metallic fabric shading cover that reflects the sun during the day and retains heat at night. Solar panels on top of the shade net generate electricity for a built-in light and a USB port inside the shelter.

The shelters require no additional tools for construction and can be built in around four hours. Each one can comfortably house five people for around three years. These features make IKEA’s flatpack shelters a vast improvement over the housing options that are currently available to refugees. Unlike this new innovation, traditional canvas ridge tents are usually not insulated, are half the size, and have a lifespan of around six months, which combined severely limit quality of life.

IKEA’s current flatpack model is two years in the making, but still in the prototype phase. Refugee camps in Iraq, Lebanon, and Ethiopia are testing around 50 of these prototypes. In the future, the design team hopes to increase the shelter’s solar electricity capacity, as well as its water harvesting and purification capabilities. Lockable doors and windows are also in the works.

Thus far, IKEA’s philanthropic branch, IKEA Foundation, has invested $4.8 million into developing the shelters. Each unit reportedly costs around $7,500 to create, but designers are hopeful that they can settle on a cost of $1,000 each, once in mass production. This price is double the cost of current tents, but with a vast amount of additional features most important to refugees.

Though IKEA’s do-it-yourself model can sometimes pose a construction challenge to its average customer, this model excels within the constraints of refugee housing. IKEA has used its fortune to bring innovative, improved shelter to those truly in need of it.

– Tara Young

Sources: NPR, Wired, The Guardian
Photo: Inhabitat