Hurricane Harvey, which was downgraded to a tropical storm over the weekend, has left three cruise ships stranded in the Gulf of Mexico as the Port of Galveston had to be closed to all vessel traffic and commercial activities amid heavy weather.
Namely, as the port will remain closed on Monday, Carnival Cruise Line said its two ships, Carnival Freedom and Carnival Breeze, will be unable to enter the port until Tuesday at least pending a further notice from the port.
” The port announced it will be closed for at least the next 24 hours, so our earliest potential opportunity to debark current guests is on Tuesday. As you can imagine, this is a fluid situation and we have no way of knowing if the port opening could be delayed further.
We will continue to maintain close contact with port officials in Galveston monitoring conditions on Galveston Island, and within neighboring areas including Houston, and will provide ongoing updates as we receive additional information,” the cruise line informed.
As a result, the two ships will be operating on shortened itineraries once the weather permits them to dock in the Port of Galveston. Guests who opt to sail on the shortened itineraries will receive a pro-rated refund of their cruise fare, the company added.
Based on the latest update from Carnival, Carnival Freedom is currently in a position to enter the Port of Galveston as soon as the port reopens, while Carnival Breeze is on its way to New Orleans to make a short technical stop to replenish water and provisions on Monday. The ship will then resume its journey to Galveston.
Due to the impact of the hurricane, Carnival decided to cancel the planned voyage of Carnival Valor.
Separately, Royal Caribbean International canceled the planned sailing for August 27 of its Liberty of the Seas cruise ship.
“Due to the severe impact of Hurricane Harvey and Galveston port closure, we unfortunately have to cancel your cruise scheduled for Sunday, August 27. We are sorry for the impact that this storm has had on your vacation and appreciate your patience as we worked through this. Please know that this decision was made with your safety in mind,” the company said.
The ship is being diverted to Miami until conditions at the Port of Galveston permit safe travel.
“Due to port closure because of Hurricane Harvey, Liberty was not able to make her scheduled arrival into Galveston today. We anticipate Liberty will be able to return to Galveston on Friday, conditions permitting. We are doing all we can to help guests adjust their travel arrangements and appreciate their patience as we work through this,” the company said in an update on August 27.
Around 20,000 cruise passengers are said to be affected by the storm.
— Marc Randall (@harrierrandall) August 27, 2017
On Friday, August 25, a port condition Zulu was announced for the Port of Galveston and surrounding area, resulting in the closure of the port for marine traffic. The heavy rain from the storm in Galveston and Houston has caused severe flooding, impacting the roads leading in and out of Galveston.
According to the latest update, the tropical storm continues weakening and is nearly stationary, drifting slowly South East towards Matagorda Bay. The storm is causing torrential rainfall from Southwest Louisiana to the south of Port O’Connor and inland to near Austin and San Antonio.
The Captain of the Port, Sector Houston-Galveston expects to remain at Port Condition ZULU for at least until August 29, possibly longer. USCG Houston-Galveston Vessel Traffic Service confirms they are approving emergent vessel movements on a case by case basis.
US Army Corps of Engineers have positioned numerous survey vessels locally to begin waterway surveys as soon as conditions permit, in order to open the waterways as soon as possible, however, the current concentration of assets is directed at recovery in Corpus Christi and Matagorda ship channel.