Around 15,000 people on four cruise ships were stranded as one of the worst hurricanes hit the United States, causing floods and devastation to Texas.
Three cruise ships from Carnival Cruise Line and one from Royal Caribbean International were scheduled for a stop in the Port of Galveston on Saturday 2 September and Sunday 3 September. But the port closed in advance of the Category 3 storm’s arrival. The Miami Herald reported there was no clear date of when it would reopen.
The ships in question include the Carnival Freedom and Valor, which both have a capacity for around 2,980 passengers at double occupancy. It will remain at a “safe distance” from the storm at sea and miss a stop in Galveston, according to Jennifer De La Cruz, Carnival’s spokeswoman said.
Also affected are the Carnival Breeze, which can hold 3,690 passengers and Liberty of the Seas, with a passenger capacity of 3,798. The Breeze will remain in Cozumel, Mexico on Friday, with scheduled arrivals in Galveston on Sunday.
Change of direction
Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas departed from Cozumel on 25 August for Galveston, according to Royal Caribbean. The next sailing of the luxury cruiser, scheduled to depart on Sunday 3 September has been cancelled and all passengers will get a full refund.
Cruise Trade News contacted Royal Caribbean for a statement, who said that the company “has decided to divert the itinerary of Liberty of the Seas to Miami until conditions near the Port of Galveston permit safe travel. The ship has been unable to make her scheduled return because the port has been closed by Hurricane Harvey. We are doing all we can to help guests adjust their travel arrangements and appreciate their patience during a stressful time.
“The next sailing of Liberty of the Seas, originally scheduled for Sunday, August 27 has been cancelled, and all guests will have their fares fully refunded and have been provided with a future cruise credit.”
The ships are stopping instead in New Orleans, Lousiana on Saturday 2 September to stock up on food supplies, water and fuel, reported local TV station WWLTV. Passengers can leave the ship if they wish or travel back to Galveston by sea.
Hurricane Harvey hits
Carnival said in a statement that the company expects the three ships to head back out to sea on Wednesday or Thursday in hopes the port will re-open.
“Unfortunately, extreme flooding conditions caused by the storm continue to impact the Galveston and greater Houston areas. As a result, officials from the Port of Galveston and United States Coast Guard cannot predict, with any certainty, when the port will re-open, but now expect it will remain closed until late this week,” said a statement from Carnival on the Port of Galveston website.
Hurricane Harvey has been downgraded to a tropical storm and will weaken further to a tropical depression by Wednesday night, the US National Hurricane Centre said.
Houston, the fourth most populated North American city has been devastated by the deadly cyclone, with rebuilding work estimated at billions of dollars.