After 10 days aboard Royal Caribbean International’s Liberty of the Seas and stranded in the turbulent Gulf of Mexico due to Hurricane Harvey, Texas State University student Jacob Sedlar was ready to get off.
“It was a fun trip, just after so long, you are just like enough is enough,” said Sedlar, who is from Katy, Texas, a city west of Houston that has been pummeled by the storm.
Sedlar was anxious to see the damage that Harvey, one of the worst flood disasters in U.S. history with more than three to four feet of rain hitting Texas, had left in its wake.
“I don’t have much to go home to,” said Sedlar, whose family told him that their garage and living room had more than 8 inches of water and that his Ford Mustang was submerged. “But it is what it is. I can’t do nothing about it.”
Sedlar was one of about 2,000 passengers who disembarked from the cruise ship Tuesday afternoon, after it was diverted to PortMiami from its home port in Galveston. About 2,000 more passengers stayed aboard and will return to Galveston on Friday morning.
The ship left Galveston on Aug. 20 for a seven-night western Caribbean cruise. The ship stopped in Roatán, Honduras, and in Mexico at Costa Maya and Cozumel. By Friday, however, with Hurricane Harvey threatening Texas, four cruise ships — three from Carnival and the Liberty of the Seas — changed their itineraries.
The three Carnival ships went to New Orleans, with plans to return to Galveston. The Royal Caribbean ship was too large for New Orleans and was rerouted to PortMiami.
Michael Bayley, Royal Caribbean’s CEO and president, said the cruise line was trying to make passengers comfortable.
“I think for our guests there was some anxiety,” Bailey said, after visiting with passengers on the ship at PortMiami. “Many of our guests come from the Texas area, come from Galveston and surrounding areas, so our concern was for them and for how they were feeling.”
Bailey said it was “a logistical challenge” because of the size of the 3,798-passenger ship but that coming to Miami made sense because cruise officials were able to refuel, add more food and entertainment, and allow passengers to disembark. Bayley said Royal Caribbean also was stocking the ship with cleaning supplies. The cruise line also offered to transport rescuers wanting to get to Galveston.
Bayley said that those who chose not to disembark will have a few more days on board, free of cost.
Among the passengers who left: Tynisa Rodriguez, who was greeted with a care package from Royal Caribbean and bused to Miami International Airport, where she was catching a flight to New York.
“There were a lot of tears, stress, sadness,” said Rodriguez, who recounted the scene on the ship and the rough waters.
Bill Esoda and his wife Katyna, who live in North Carolina, disembarked because of family here.
Esoda considered their trip extension minor compared to what people in Texas are experiencing.
“We have a home to go home to,” he said. “People in Houston have a lot more to deal with.”