Royal Caribbean Provides Cruise Ship for Surfside First Responders

Up to 600 first responders will be able to stay on The Explorer of the Seas ship, which arrived in PortMiami Thursday

Michael Bayley

With housing options dwindling because of the July 4th weekend, Royal Caribbean is offering a cruise ship to first responders who are on the scene of the Surfside condo collapse.

Up to 600 first responders will be able to stay on The Explorer of the Seas, which arrived in PortMiami Thursday.

The ship, which can accommodate more than 3,000 passengers, began housing rescue teams Thursday and likely will continue for the next month, according to Michael Bayley, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International.

"Early today Explorer of the Seas arrived into PortMiami to offer accommodation and assistance to First Responders arriving into South Florida from all over America and around the world to help at Surfside," Bayley said. "80 arrived today and up to 600 responders will stay on Explorer for a couple of weeks."

Search dogs assisting at Surfside are also welcome to join, Bayley added.

The company said it will provide individual staterooms, hot meals, laundry service and Wi-Fi to its guests.

"This tragedy in our own backyard is heart-wrenching," Royal Caribbean Group chairman and CEO Richard Fain said. "Our thoughts are with the families and our whole community, and our thanks go out to the hardworking search and rescue teams. Providing them shelter is a small way to show our support."

Governor Ron DeSantis tweeted photos with search and rescue crews from several states and thanked Royal Caribbean for the accommodations.

In order to accomplish this effort so quickly, the Royal Caribbean Group and the ship's leadership worked with the governor's office, Miami-Dade County, Florida Division of Emergency Management, the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection to receive the necessary approvals within 24 hours.

"This incredible act of kindness and generosity from our friends at Royal Caribbean is deeply appreciated by our entire community," Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said. "Over the past nine days, our first responders have been working under dangerous, stressful conditions to move our search and rescue mission forward through so many unprecedented challenges."

"These accommodations will provide them with a much-needed respite and opportunity to rest and recharge for their next shift and are yet another example of how our local and global community has come together in the aftermath of tragedy."

During a Friday morning briefing, Miami-Dade Assistant Fire Chief Raide Jadallah warned relatives of the missing that the search could be suspended again if Hurricane Elsa brings strong winds that would make the work too dangerous.

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