Tourism & Cruises

Nearly 15,000 cruisers stranded on ships in the Gulf of Mexico due to Hurricane Harvey

Cruisers on three Carnival Cruise Line ships and one Royal Caribbean International vessel are likely to be stuck in the Gulf of Mexico most of the weekend as Hurricane Harvey barrels toward Texas.

Nearly 15,000 travelers are sailing on the four ships, all of which are scheduled to stop in the Port of Galveston this weekend. But the port closed earlier in the week in advance of the Category 3 storm’s arrival and it’s unclear when it will reopen.

As a result, the Carnival Freedom and Valor, each with capacity for about 2,980 passengers at double occupancy, are remaining a “safe distance” from the storm at sea and skipping a stop in Galveston scheduled for Saturday, Carnival spokeswoman Jennifer De La Cruz said.

The ships will instead stop in New Orleans, Louisiana, Saturday to replenish fuel, water and food supplies, she said. At that time, cruisers who wish to disembark the ship may do so, or wait out the journey back to Galveston via sea.

“Given the severity and projected path of the storm along with potential challenges guests may encounter attempting to travel back to Galveston independently, we are strongly encouraging them to remain on board as we intend to return the ships to Galveston as soon as feasible,” De La Cruz said.

The upcoming voyages on Freedom and Valor next week will be shortened and guests will be refunded for the days that were shaved off the voyages.

The 3,690-passenger Carnival Breeze and 3,798-passenger Liberty of the Seas both called in Cozumel, Mexico, Friday with scheduled arrivals in Galveston Sunday. The Breeze will remain in Cozumel overnight and depart for Galveston Saturday afternoon, Carnival said. Liberty of the Seas left Cozumel at 5 p.m. for Galveston, according to Royal Caribbean.

“Our intention is to keep with our original schedule for our return to Galveston,” said Royal Caribbean spokeswoman Cynthia Martinez. “However, we will return to Galveston only when it is safe to do.”

Both of the Miami-based cruise lines are standing by until the port reopens following a post-storm assessment.

Harvey is expected to make landfall near Corpus Christi, Texas, by early Saturday, according to the National Weather Service, bringing heavy flooding.

Chabeli Herrera: 305-376-3730, @ChabeliH

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