Cruise Ship to Help Shelter Earthquake Refugees in Turkey

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Miray Cruises’ Gemini will be used as a temporary shelter for refugees after the devastating earthquake that struck Turkey on February 6, 2023.

The vessel has a history of relief work and will be docked at the Port of Iskenderun, Turkey, while housing refugees, many of whom are families with children.

Ship to Serve as Emergency Shelter

Gemini is a 19,093-gross-ton vessel with the capacity for 1,074 guests, which will help tremendously with displaced families who lost their homes in the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck south-central Turkey and northern Syria on Monday, February 6, 2023, one of the strongest earthquakes to ever impact the region.

Miray Cruises has offered the vessel for emergency relief to welcome refugees. The cruise line will not only furnish housing onboard the ship, but will also furnish all meals and provide 24-hour medical care to those aboard.

Gemini Cruise Ship
Gemini Cruise Ship (Photo Credit: cherry-hai / Shutterstock)

Furthermore, a special schedule of activities for the children aboard will be created to help create a sense of normalcy and relieve anxiety for the youngest guests.

Gemini features 400 cabins as well as several bars and restaurants, lounges, duty-free shopping, a main pool, and a spa area. It is not known how many features will be available for the refugees to use, or whether areas may be temporarily repurposed to better serve the refugees’ needs, such as for extra sleeping quarters, storage space, or an onboard schoolroom.

The ship will be housing refugees until March 15, after which it will begin a planned season of short Greek Island cruises including visits to Santorini, Mykonos, Athens, Rhodes, and other top destinations.

History of Service

Gemini first entered service in 1992 as Crown Jewel, the largest vessel ever built in Spain, for the now-defunct Crown Cruise Line. The ship has been owned and operated by various lines over the past 30 years, including Cunard Line, Star Cruises, and Celestyal Cruises. Miray Cruises acquired the vessel in 2019.

In addition to welcoming cruise travelers with various lines and sailing to various destinations around the world, Gemini also has a history of alternative service and humanitarian aid.

Gemini Cruise Ship
Gemini Cruise Ship (Photo Credit: Bennian / Shutterstock

During the London Summer Olympics and Paralympic Games in 2012, the ship was used as housing for security staff, and she has been used several times as accommodations for workers in various locations for different companies.

In 2017, the ship was chartered by FEMA to hose emergency response crews after Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria, stationed in St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands.

Cruise lines often offer vessels for relief support when there is great need. Several ships have been chartered to house Ukrainian refugees, for example, and ships are regularly used after hurricanes and tropical storms.

About the Earthquake

The 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck at approximately 4:17 a.m. local time on February 6, with far-reaching damage and an estimated 47,800 deaths.

This is the strongest recorded earthquake in the region since 1939, which also registered as a 7.8 magnitude. Shaking was felt as far away as Egypt, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, and Cyprus. More than 2,000 aftershocks followed the main pair of quakes, with severe winter weather causing further complications for rescue and relief efforts.

Total damage is estimated to be $84 billion (USD), making this earthquake the fourth-costliest earthquake in recorded history and the deadliest natural disaster modern Turkey has ever seen.

Cruise Hive’s thoughts are with everyone impacted by this devastating earthquake, including crew members of cruise lines worldwide who have family and friends in Turkey and Syria.

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