Hurricane Irma strands cruise passengers at sea with access to unlimited booze
Hurricane Irma has devastated vast swathes of the Caribbean and nearby territories, killing at least 28 people. Since last weekend, however, it turned its sights to the mainland US, pummelling the state of Florida with winds that reached speeds of up to 130 mph on Sunday; destroying homes, leaving 3.5 million without power, and toppling giant construction cranes in the city of Miami.
More than a quarter of Florida's population (around 6.4 million civilians) were ordered to evacuate, with the warning that they would be "on their own" if they chose to remain. 100,000 of those who chose to stay in the state were relocated into temporary shelters nonetheless, but a significant number opted to remain in their own homes.
Others, however, had more unconventional escape routes. Over 4,000 displaced cruise ship passengers attempted to flee from Irma by jumping ship to a cruise boat fittingly named "Escape". Of course, with Irma reaching unprecedented heights, things didn't quite go to plan. They are now stranded on what has been dubbed a "cruise to nowhere", with no planned end date or destination.
But, they do have one thing to keep them going through all of the uncertainty: unlimited booze.
USA Today has reported that two Norwegian Cruise Line ships, called Sky and Escape, were due to arrive in Florida on Friday and Saturday, respectively. However, both were forced to make a change of plan when it became apparent that Florida was about to face an onslaught from Irma, so they diverted to Miami to avoid the hurricane.
They managed to drop off any passengers who lived in Florida and wanted to return to their homes, but faced problems when they arrived in Miami, as there were no flights out of the city and many hotels were at full capacity. So, the company allowed passengers who had nowhere else to go to remain on the "Escape" and wait out the storm at sea.
The "Escape" is currently sailing west of Florida, attempting to keep out of the way of the storm. And in an unprecedented twist, the captain has notified passengers that the "Escape" could even outrun the storm.
Vanessa Picariella, a spokesperson for Norwegian stated: "at this point the plan is to go west [...] We're making every effort to have at least one port of call. If not, it will be a cruise to nowhere and everyone will have a good time."
The cruise-ship is planning on returning to Miami as soon as it is safe, but neither passengers nor crew have any idea when that will be. Allegedly, the company is not charging stranded customers for the trip, and all passengers will be provided with food, entertainment, and most importantly, alcohol.