The thousands of cruise passengers still languishing in the Gulf of Mexico awaiting the reopening of Texas’ Port of Galveston are finally going home.
The port reopened Thursday morning after closing for a week. The closure, which came just a day before Hurricane Harvey made landfall near Corpus Christi, Texas as a Category 4 storm, left four ships without any place to go.
An estimated 15,000 travelers were affected among the four ships.
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Miami-based Carnival Cruise Line ships made stops in New Orleans to replenish food, fuel, water, supplies and even entertainment. About half of the guests on each ship disembarked in New Orleans, Carnival said in a statement. Since, the three ships — Carnival Freedom, Carnival Valor and Carnival Breeze — have remained in the Gulf awaiting the reopening of the port.
Liberty of the Seas, from Miami-based Royal Caribbean International, headed to Miami instead. The ship docked in PortMiami Tuesday, where about 2,000 guests disembarked after a tumultuous 10 days at sea. The remaining 2,000 passengers remained on the ship as it set a course for Galveston.
Carnival Freedom and Valor are scheduled to arrive at the port Friday. Travelers on the next Freedom voyage will embark on Saturday as scheduled. The Valor sailing scheduled to leave Thursday was canceled and guests will receive a full refund, Carnival said.
The Carnival Breeze will dock on Saturday and leave again on its next scheduled cruise Sunday.
Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas will disembark in Galveston Friday and set sail on its next scheduled voyage Sunday, the cruise line said.
Since the stranding, guests on the four ships have been tweeting their voyage, some posting images of a gloomy sky and rain above the pool deck.
Twitter user Jennifer O’Donnell tweeted Wednesday that she had spent her 12th night on the Carnival Freedom, and thanked Carnival for replenishing the entertainment in the meantime.
She captured the sentiment of most cruisers after nearly two weeks at sea: “#wedone,” she said.
User Chris Boise, also on the Freedom, reacted to the devastation in Houston, where catastrophic floods have caused immeasurable damage. “Watching my brothers and sisters struggle,” Boise tweeted. “This sucks but so proud of my city #houstonstrong.”