Beautiful beaches and colourful Caribbean buildings have been left almost unrecognisable after Hurricane Irma’s strong winds and heavy rainfall swept through the region over the weekend.

The category two storm left a trail of destruction as it slammed through Antigua, Barbuda, St Martin, St Maarten, US Virgin Islands, US British Islands, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Turks & Caicos, The Bahamas and Cuba.

At least 24 people are believed to have been killed in the Caribbean as a result of Irma. Damage is still being assessed on the islands, which are also preparing for the arrival of another major storm, Hurricane Jose, CNN reported.

In the US, Irma made landfall in Miami’s tourism capital, Florida, on Saturday where it has caused mass flooded in the streets and on the beaches.

Thousands of people are said to have been left displaced by the severe storm – including those in Miami and the Caribbean -, a situation which could intensify as Irma moves inland towards Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Alabama and Virginia where a State of Emergency has already been declared.

Humanitarian groups have moved in to affected areas to assist those in need, while cruise lines such as Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line have moved their ships to deliver much-need supplies.

Norwegian Escape

In an online statement, Norwegian Cruise Line said Norwegian Escape is currently full to capacity with some 4,000 guests who were unable to secure flights back home. The ship is currently in Cozumel, Mexico and will move out to sea shortly. It will return to Port Miami once it reopens.

The cruise line has also deployed Norwegian Sky to the US Virgin Islands where it will drop off supplies and assist in a humanitarian effort that is currently being organized by the US government.

Travellers have been advised that due to the devastation in the Caribbean, Norwegian Escape’s Eastern Caribbean sailings have been altered to a Western Caribbean itinerary until November.

Meanwhile, Royal Caribbean is working with the US and local governments to send supplies aboard Adventure of the Seas and Majesty of the Seas to the US Virgin Islands and St Maarten. The cruise line is also assisting in transporting evacuees from St. Maarten and has Empress of the Seas and Enchantment of the Seas ready to assist Key West and Tampa.

Click here for information on disruptions to Royal Caribbean’s regular schedule.

Aussies currently travelling through affected areas have been advised by Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to monitor local media reports and follow the instructions of local authorities.

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