Royal Caribbean Brings in Cruise Ship to House 600 Surfside First Responders

Royal Caribbean International said it will host hundreds of first responders traveling to South Florida from across the country to help recover victims at a fallen 12-story condominium building outside Miami.

The cruise line company said about 600 rescuers will stay on its Explorer of the Seas ship, which can accommodate more than 3,000 passengers. It began housing rescue teams Thursday and anticipated to continue doing so for the next month.

"This tragedy in our own backyard is heart-wrenching," said Richard Fain, Royal Caribbean Group's chairman and CEO. "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."

Royal Caribbean says it will host 600 first responders as the search-and-rescue effort continues at the Surfside building collapse. Above, a detail of a memorial that has pictures of some of the missing from the partially collapsed 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building on July 2, in Surfside, Florida. Michael Reaves/Getty Images

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

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

Juan Kuryla, the port director, told the Miami Herald on Friday that the ship now docked at PortMiami was brought in specifically to provide lodging for rescuers as hotels and other accommodations in the area fill up because of the July 4 holiday weekend.

Kuryla worried that Hurricane Elsa could complicate things should it veer closer to South Florida and said the ship may have to leave port if the threat becomes more serious.

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 the hurricane—now in the eastern Caribbean—brings strong winds that would make the work too dangerous.

He also sought to forestall any misunderstanding that some rescuers who are now staying in tents would abandon the site to go "partying." He said that because hotels in the area are heavily booked, some of the rescuers might be housed in cruise ships that can stay safe during a storm.

Royal Caribbean says it will provide individual staterooms, hot meals, laundry service and Wi-Fi to firstr responders. A dog aiding in the search walks past a team of Israeli search and rescue personnel, left, atop the rubble at the Champlain Towers South condo building, where scores of people remain missing one week after it partially collapsed, Friday, July 2, 2021, in Surfside, Fla. Mark Humphrey/AP Photo