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Royal Caribbean using ships, supplies to aid people on Irma-ravaged islands

Key Points
  • Royal Caribbean is using cruise ships, supplies to help people affected by hurricane.
  • On Tuesday, the cruise operator's ship picked up "a few thousand people in St. Thomas and St. Martin," CEO Richard Fain said on CNBC's Closing Bell.
Royal Caribean CEO on resuming cruises

Royal Caribbean is using its ships and supplies to provide relief in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, the company's chief executive said Tuesday.

CEO Richard Fain told CNBC's Closing Bell that the cruise operator will return to a "normal schedule" by this weekend, but, in the meantime, it is focused on helping islands ravaged by the storm.

"We actually ended up so may extra supplies that we were delivering them to some of the islands that were badly hurt," Fain said.

The Miami-based company had ships available due to cancelled cruises, allowing them to mobilize the vessels for evacuations of people on hurricane-ravaged islands in the Caribbean region such as St. Thomas and St. Martin.

"We've told the local islands that we would help them, and so yesterday [Monday] we picked up some people in St. Martin to bring them to a safer place," he said. "Today [Tuesday] we're picking up a few thousand people in St. Thomas and St. Martin."

Fain described the people getting the help as "pretty much tourists who had gone to those islands and had no way to get home. So we're using our ships to transport them."

According to Fain, the company's evacuation assistance for stranded tourists on the islands will wind down by this weekend, when Royal Caribbean plans to resume a "normal schedule."

"Unfortunately, we're prepared for these sorts of things," he said.

As of Tuesday, Royal Caribbean had two cruise ships out with the company's modified schedule and two more set for departure Wednesday.

Fain said the company cancelled cruises in the affected region early when Hurricane Irma was approaching but added there were still had cases where people stayed longer on ships, including employees who needed a place to shelter from Irma.

"We wanted to give them a safe place to stay during the storm," he said.

According to the CEO, the company's cruise ships could have stayed out "two weeks easily" given that there was plenty of food and supplies on board. The company donated the surplus to some of the affected Caribbean islands, Fain added.

"We stock up quite heavily," he said. "We want to make sure that there's more than enough even in a normal cruise, just in case."