California resident Adrianne Davis is scheduled to sail on a Carnival Cruise Line voyage to Cuba Thursday afternoon. But she could get stuck in Florida if the cruise line cancels her voyage last minute due to Hurricane Irma.
Thousands of other travelers heading to Florida for scheduled cruise vacations may find themselves in a similar situation — especially those who like Davis, are beginning their journeys long in advance of the ship’s departure.
By noon Wednesday, she had already rescheduled her flight to the last one out of Los Angeles for Tampa, where the ship is departing, arriving at midnight Thursday. But as of Wednesday afternoon, Carnival said it was still planning to sail.
The cruise line canceled two sailings Wednesday: Carnival Liberty’s three-day Bahamas cruise scheduled to leave Orlando’s Port Canaveral on Thursday and a three-day Bahamas sailing on the Carnival Victory from Miami, scheduled to depart Friday.
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If I get on that plane today and I’m in Tampa tomorrow morning at midnight, then I am like every other Floridian trying to get out if [Carnival decides] to cancel.
Adrianne Davis, California resident sailing on a Carnival cruise from Tampa
“If I get on that plane today and I’m in Tampa tomorrow morning at midnight, then I am like every other Floridian trying to get out if [Carnival decides] to cancel,” said Davis, a marketing director in Long Beach. “You are driving people to come to a state that is on pins and needles right now.”
As of 1 p.m. Wednesday, Carnival said that the sailing would leave as scheduled. “We are continuing to monitor with respect to the planned itinerary but no changes have been made at this time,” cruise line spokeswoman Jennifer De La Cruz said in a statement.
“Our first priority is always to ensure guest and crew safety. If we can operate a voyage to preserve people's highly anticipated vacation plans, we will do so,” De La Cruz said. “We know from decades of experience with these storms that slight shifts in the forecast track can make a difference in our operations so final determinations are not always made several days in advance although behind the scenes we are planning for a variety of different scenarios.”
We know from decades of experience with these storms that slight shifts in the forecast track can make a difference in our operations so final determinations are not always made several days in advance although behind the scenes we are planning for a variety of different scenarios.
Jennifer De La Cruz, Carnival Cruise Line
As of Wednesday afternoon, the three major Florida-based cruise lines — Carnival Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean International and Norwegian Cruise Line — had adjusted nearly two dozen sailings or canceled trips to keep nearly 70,000 cruisers out of Irma’s storm path.
Even ships that do sail don’t always keep their scheduled itinerary. Last month during Hurricane Harvey, four cruise ships were stranded in the Gulf of Mexico after the Port of Galveston closed. About 15,000 cruisers were affected, with about half of them returning to Galveston a week after their original scheduled arrivals.
Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises
Already, Royal Caribbean International has delayed the return of three ships, Oasis, Harmony and Allure of the Seas, all of which are in the Atlantic, until the storm has passed.
“Due to the unpredictability of the storm, we plan to keep all of our guests currently sailing on these ships safely out of harm’s way,” the Miami-based cruise line said in a statement Wednesday.
Three other sailings have been canceled: Enchantment of the Seas’ Bahamas cruise departing Friday, Majesty of the Seas’ Bahamas cruise departing Friday and Empress of the Seas’ Cuba cruise departing Saturday. Passengers on canceled voyages will get a full refund and 25 percent in future cruise credits.
Nearly two dozen sailings have been modified or canceled by major cruise lines to keep nearly 70,000 cruisers out of Irma’s storm path.
Some future sailings have also been modified. In those cases, vacations who choose not to forego the modified sailings will get a 100 percent future cruise credit; pre-booked excursions will be refunded in full, Royal Caribbean International said.
Allure of the Seas’ seven-night Caribbean cruise scheduled for Sunday instead will depart on Sept. 13 as a four-night sailing to the Bahamas. Royal Caribbean is providing a refund for half of the cruise fare paid and an additional 50 percent future cruise credit.
Harmony of the Seas’ Saturday seven-night voyage will set sail on Sept. 12 as a four-night itinerary to Cozumel, Mexico. Those cruisers will also get a refund for half of the cruise fare paid and an additional 50 percent future cruise credit.
Oasis of the Seas’ will sail on Sept. 12 instead of its originally scheduled Sunday departure for a seven-night cruise. The ship will sail a five-night itinerary to Costa Maya and Cozumel, Mexico. Passengers on that voyage will get a 30 percent refund on the cruise fare paid and 50 percent future cruise credit.
Royal Caribbean has canceled three sailings: Enchantment of the Seas, Majesty of the Seas and Empress of the Seas.
The cruise line is also monitoring potential changes to an Anthem of the Seas’ Bermuda cruise scheduled to leave Saturday, and Majesty of the Seas and Enchantment of the Seas Bahamas sailings scheduled to sail Monday.
Royal Caribbean’s Celebrity Equinox’s itinerary was also adjusted away from scheduled stops in the U.S. Virgin Island, the British Virgin Islands and Antigua later this week.
Carnival Cruise Line
Carnival has also adjusted itineraries, moving four voyages with eastern Caribbean itineraries to western Caribbean itineraries. The voyages affected were: the Carnival Glory, sailing from Miami; the Carnival Magic, sailing from Orlando; the Carnival Splendor, sailing from Fort Lauderdale; the Carnival Pride, sailing from Baltimore; the Carnival Ecstasy, sailing from Charleston; and the Carnival Sensation, sailing from Miami.
Carnival Cruise Line has adjusted sailings for the Carnival Glory, Carnival Magic, Carnival Splendor, Carnival Pride, Carnival Ecstasy and Carnival Sensation.
“In addition, we are making preparations for a potential landfall in South Florida, where Carnival headquarters is located,” the cruise line said in a statement. “The safety of our guests and team members is our first priority.”
Norwegian Cruise Line
Another point of concern: The storm’s current track has it potentially arriving in South Florida over the weekend, days where ships usually leave port for new sailings.
Miami-based Norwegian Cruise Line is preparing for that scenario by canceling a seven-day eastern Caribbean sailing on the Norwegian Escape scheduled to depart from Miami on Saturday. A three-day Bahamas sailing on the Norwegian Sky scheduled for Friday has also been canceled. Guests on either trip will receive a full refund and a 50 percent future cruise credit, the cruise line said.
Two current sailings in the Caribbean are being adjusted.
The Norwegian Escape, which is on a seven-day trip, will move to a five-day sailing instead, skipping two stops in Mexico and sailing to Miami Tuesday evening. The ship is expected to dock in PortMiami Thursday.
Norwegian Cruise Line has canceled sailings on the Norwegian Escape for Saturday and Norwegian Sky for Friday.
Passengers who do not live in Miami and can’t secure a flight out of the area can remain on the ship. While Norwegian has not yet determined what course the ship will take, the line said in a statement Tuesday that it plans to set a course away from the storm. All guests, regardless of whether they stay on or not, will get a refund for the missed days and a 25 percent future cruise credit, plus change fees for flights of up to $300 per person.
Guests on the Norwegian Sky, which is on a four-day Cuba cruise, will skip a stop at Great Stirrup Cay in the Bahamas and arrive in Miami Thursday. Those passengers will also get a refund for the missed day, a 25 percent future cruise credit, and change fees of up to $300 per person.