Hurricane Harvey strands thousands aboard cruise ships in Gulf of Mexico


Cruise line officials Friday were faced with the prospect of their ships being stuck at sea until as late as Tuesday as Hurricane Harvey bore down on the Texas coast.

The Carnival Breeze was scheduled to return to Galveston on Sunday.

The ships packing almost 12,000 guests and roughly 3,700 crew members combined may be delaying returns to the Port of Galveston, a Gulf Coast stop near Houston. It would mean an extra sea day or two for passengers now on board and less time on the ship for those expecting to cruise next week.

"We will continue to remain in close contact with port officials regarding their plans to re-open once the storm has passed and a post-storm assessment of the port has been completed", Carnival said.

The Carnival Freedom and the Carnival Valor each carry about 4,800 passengers and crew.

"While the track of this storm is still very uncertain, we do know that this will be a significant rain event for our entire area", Niki Bender, emergency management coordinator for the city of Galveston, said in a statement. They also have the option to cancel without a penalty and will receive a future cruise credit, the spokesperson said. Passengers will receive a refund based on the number of cruise days missed. "Gratuities will also be adjusted to reflect the shortened duration".

The fleet most heavily impacted is that of Carnival Cruise Lines. With the situation continuing to develop, Heald concluded by saying that Carnival will "update you [Saturday] at 3 p.m. CDT". To stay up to date, please sign up for text alerts by texting the codes below to CRUISE (278473).

With the Port of Galveston closed to all marine traffic, two Carnival Cruise Line ships scheduled to arrive Saturday are being redirected to New Orleans, according to a company spokeswoman.

As of Friday afternoon, Royal Caribbean had yet to make a decision on how Hurricane Harvey would impact the Liberty Of The Seas.

References to the storm's wind speed always refer to the maximum sustained winds observed in the storm, although higher gusts are likely to occur.

Harvey is expected to make landfall overnight, bringing life-threatening storm surge, rainfall and wind to portions of the Texas coast.