Economy

Marriott Rescue Boat Refused Non-Guests Trying To Escape Hurricane, Tourists Allege

Marriott Rescue Boat Refused Non-Guests Trying To Escape Hurricane, Tourists Allege”

The Marriott hotel chain has suffered a public relations disaster after tourists on the island of Saint Thomas, US Virgin Islands, were allegedly left stranded during Hurricanes Irma and Jose, as a rescue ferry only evacuated guests of the Marriott hotel on the island turned away non-guests despite having empty seats. Terry said a lieutenant told her a boat would be coming to the Marriott near the hotel they were staying in.

At the time, Hurricane Jose had yet to turn north and little time remained to negotiate the matter.

Officials on the ship said they had contacted people higher up in the company about the evacuation, Howard and other stranded passengers said.

In her anger, Naomi Ayala, a Dallas resident who had been vacationing on the island but was now watching her chance at rescue edge toward the horizon, pulled out her phone and posted a video on Facebook. Although the boat had 1,300 open seats and was open to taking people who were not Marriott guests, the hotel chain refused to let them board.

She added: "Once we got to the docks and learned that it was for, Marriott guests only, they told us that we could get in a different line and wait - so we got the impression that we would, if there was room, they would let us on".

Charlotte Amalie harbor, St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands before Irma.

"We were told by the port manager.that if they weren't on the manifest that we weren't able to bring them on to the boat", Tim Sheldon, president of the Caribbean and Latin America region for Marriott, told the Post.

"The ferry departed St Thomas Friday, September 8, with the Marriott guests on board".

In a statement to FOX19, Marriott said the team on-the-ground did not have the authorization to board additional passengers.

However, until they arrived at the pier late Friday evening, they had not been told that the ship was for Marriott guests only. Additionally, crew from the St. Thomas air traffic control center are staying on the property, who travel daily to and from St. Thomas.

In response to the posts of several people on social media, Marriott said that there was a "tight window" to pick up passengers and leave for the safety of Puerto Rico.

"The security personnel employed by the dock company would not - and we asked them repeatedly - allow them through the port gates and boarding area, because they were not on the manifest we prepared in advance, as requirement for the boat to depart for worldwide waters", Sheldon told Forbes. "This was enforced by dock security", the company said.

"In this case, we weren't able to help and as grateful as we are that we were able to transport our guests, we are saddened that we were not able to do the same for more people".

Several hundred tourists stranded on the island had reportedly been told by local authorities that a ship would come in to take tourists to nearby Puerto Rico, from where they would be able to fly to the USA mainland.

More than 2,000 tourists who were stranded on the island will also get picked up by the ship and taken to San Juan, Puerto Rico, which still has an operational airport.



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