Philipsburg – On Saturday, April 17, 2021, the management of Port St. Maarten welcomed 159 passengers aboard the Celebrity Reflection cruise ship who were evacuated from Saint Vincent and the Grenadines due to the eruption of La Soufriére volcano. Prime Minister Silveria E. Jacobs, Minister of Justice Anna E. Richardson, Ministry of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transportation and Telecommunications Secretary General, Miguel de Weever and Foreign Affairs Department Acting Head Patrice Gumbs were all present to ensure any needed assistance was rendered to the passengers. The arriving passengers all had a negative COVID-19 PCR test within 72 hours of arrival and are predominately nationals or residents of the US, Canada and the United Kingdom (UK).
The Rapid Deployment Team; a trained group of crisis responders from the Foreign Development and Commonwealth Office of the UK Government and Canadian Honorary Consul Pierre DeCelles were present at Port St. Maarten as well to assist the UK and Canadian passengers with their onward travel arrangements. Some passengers needed assistance booking hotel stays or booking onward commercial airline flights from Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA).
Prime Minister Jacobs stated, “The Government of St. Maarten is pleased to have facilitated the arrival of the passengers together with Port St. Maarten and all stakeholders who were involved in this operation. Sint Maarten continues to stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Saint Vincent and as such, we will continue to assist where possible.”
Minister of Justice Richardson stated, “Globally, tragic events are occurring daily. Persons needing to be uprooted and moved to safer grounds can’t be a pleasant experience. Nevertheless, I am elated with the cooperation displayed by all the coordinators and service agencies. I’d like to especially thank the Immigration and Border Protection Services team for their hard work and dedicated service with processing the passengers. I also extend appreciation to KPSM for being instrumental in escorting passengers who were against time to catch their connecting flights.”
This humanitarian operation was possible via collaboration between the Government of St. Maarten, Port St. Maarten, the United States (US) Consulate in Curaçao and Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines (RCCL). Momentarily, there are no future plans for additional evacuations.