Royal Caribbean cruise brings thousands of Maria evacuees to South Florida

PORT EVERGLADES, Fla. (WSVN) – Thousands of evacuees escaping the destruction caused by Hurricane Maria arrived in South Florida, thanks to a Royal Caribbean cruise.

On Tuesday morning, 3,800 evacuees arrived at Port Everglades on the Royal Caribbean cruise ship Adventure of the Seas.

In Puerto Rico, the ship picked up 1,700 people, including tourists and cruise line employees and their families. Residents in Saint Thomas were also brought aboard.

Royal Caribbean said they canceled a regularly scheduled cruise in order to offer relief for those in need.

“We’re called Royal Caribbean, and we feel like our Caribbean neighbors needed help, and we’ve helped,” said President of Royal Caribbean International, Michael Bayley.

Family members waited in Port Everglades for their loved ones, including Yaima Escobar, who welcomed six family members.

“They are very sad,” said Escobar, “very sad to leave the house and leaving everything back, not knowing when you’re going back – if you are going back.”

“Finally, I have him home,” said Migdalia Rivera as she reunited with her son Michael and his family. “You don’t know how happy I am. It’s been a long battle to get them here.”

Many evacuees said that while they were on the ship, they were treated like royalty.

“With goodness, with kindness. They reassured us that once we reached Florida, that everything would be all right with us,” said Carmen Boynes.

Several officials from FEMA were at Port Everglades to assist the evacuees.

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