Marriott has come under heavy criticism for leaving over two dozen people stranded on St. Thomas one of the hurricane ravaged Caribbean islands even though a ferry it had chartered contained sufficient space to fit hundreds of other passengers.
When the ferry arrived on an emergency call last Friday night to the Caribbean island, it would only accept tourists who were staying at properties owned or operated by Marriott.
Weather forecasts at the time were calling for the island to possibly be in the line of a second oncoming hurricane.
On Twitter, users were quick to criticize the actions of the hotel chain with several saying Marriott should be ashamed of its actions. Some of users vowed they would never patronize a Marriott property ever again.
Affected tourists said that Marriott made the decision to leave them behind when they were on the dock, because of concerns about potential liabilities.
The parent company of Ritz Carlton and Residence Inn hotels amongst others said it wanted to be of help to the other travelers affected but had been prevented from doing that by St. Thomas port security officials because the tourists had not been on the ferry’s passenger manifest.
In addition, with the predictions of Hurricane Jose possibly soon hitting the island, Marriott said it did not have the time to wait to receive permission for the others to board.
Marriott in a prepared statement said, “as a business, it places priority on its’ guest’s security and safety, but has a longstanding tradition of looking out for the greater community.”
The statement continued by saying in the case of St. Thomas, we are sad that we could not help more people.
Things did not go well from the beginning with the ferry. A Marriott representative said it was not clear if the island’s Coast Guard would allow the ship to embark, but once under way, Marriott was not sure if they could dock upon arriving in St. Thomas.
A Virgin Islands spokesperson from the office of Governor Kenneth Mapp did not respond to requests to comment.
Close to 5,000 members of the American Armed Services were deployed to the Virgin Island to help with the recovery. St. Thomas police have arrested some people for violating curfews, but have not reported any serious crimes.
The island’s police commissioner denied the reports seen on social media of stolen firearms and looting on nearby St. John.