The Wildcat Voice

Marriott Leaves 35 Stranded in the Path of Hurricane Irma

Abhi Siri, Staff Writer

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You’ve probably stayed at a Marriott hotel once. Maybe you have even gone out to the Caribbean for a stay at a Marriott resort. As you probably know, some islands in the Caribbean area have suffered damage from Hurricane Irma. One of these islands is St. Thomas. This island has multiple Marriott resorts, where about 600 vacationers were staying. This island was right in the path of Hurricane Irma.

Marriott, not wanting to leave their customers in danger, was already planning for ways to get Marriott customers off the island via boat or plane. But because of Hurricane Irma, the airport closed, and not many ferry captains wanted to bring their ships into dangerous waters. The island was right in the path of Hurricane Jose, so Marriott chartered the MV Kydon, a large passenger ferry capable of seating 800 passengers. However, once the ship was docked–despite their being space for 200 more people–some 35 extra people who were not staying at Marriott hotels were denied access to the boat. Marriott blames dock security and maritime law, and some people blame Marriott.

What could make Marriott’s claim valid? They stated that anybody not on the manifest couldn’t board, and according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Vessel Inspection Guide, anybody not on the manifest and not US citizens would be considered stowaways, meaning they could be denied entry, arrested, or forced to apply for asylum. If somebody was denied access upon their arrival, they could sue Marriott, resulting in heavy financial losses. Also, Marriott cannot control access to the port. It was the dock manager’s choice to deny those 35 people entry, and not Marriott’s choice. Also, Marriott is responsible for their customers only.  Most importantly, no one was injured or died as a result of this decision.

On the other hand, there is a law known as the “Good Samaritan Law,” which provides legal protection for people who provide aid in emergency situations. In this case, Marriott would have been immune to the lawsuits that would follow. Also, this negligence of others is ethically wrong: money was deemed more important than human lives.

Thankfully, Hurricane Jose did not hit the island, and those stranded survived. If Hurricane Jose had actually hit St. Thomas, Marriott would likely be faced with massive lawsuits for their neglect of human life and the endangerment of others.

This incident is a clear example of corporate ignorance and the value of money over human life.

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Marriott Leaves 35 Stranded in the Path of Hurricane Irma