The Grand Celebration, owned and operated by Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line, will be heading to St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands at the request of FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency), the company said.
The chartered ship will have responsibility for housing the National Guard, according to a press release. The humanitarian mission is expected to start with the ship’s arrival in St. Thomas on Saturday, September 23, 2017 and last through the latter half of December.
The cruise line will resume normal cruise operations beginning with the cruise on Saturday, December 23, 2017, with two-night cruises between the Port of Palm Beach and Grand Bahama Island.
“We will be reaching out to all of our guests and travel partners this week,” explained Oneil Khosa, CEO of the cruise line. “We feel badly about this 90 day disruption but believe the extensive needs of the St. Thomas people to be of greater importance at this time.”
Bahamas Paradise has been at the forefront of aid efforts following Hurricane Irma, offering free meals to first responders last week.
It is not the first time FEMA has used cruise ships as floating accommodation vessels. Following Hurricane Katrina, FEMA chartered multiple ships from Carnival Corporation to house workers in New Orleans.
Related: Bahamas Paradise Eyes Bigger Plans