Carnival Cruise Line guests scheduled to sail onboard the line’s flagship, Mardi Gras, have been notified of a port of call change, with 21 different sailings impacted.
Some of these sailings are more than a year away, but the port swap is the same for each affected cruise.
Mardi Gras Itinerary Changes
For the affected voyages, Mardi Gras will no longer be visiting San Juan, Puerto Rico. Instead, the ship will call on Nassau, The Bahamas.
Guests booked on the impacted sailings were notified of the change via email on Tuesday, October 25, 2022, regardless of when their cruise was planned.
“As we continue to refine our operational plans for your cruise, we have replaced our call to San Juan, Puerto Rico, with a visit to Nassau, The Bahamas,” the email read. “Thank you for your understanding. We look forward to welcoming you aboard for a FUN and memorable cruise.”
A total of 21 Mardi Gras sailings are impacted by this change, including the following departure dates:
- 2022 Departures: 12/31
- 2023 Departures: 1/21, 2/11, 2/25, 3/18, 4/8, 4/22, 6/3, 7/29, 9/23, 10/7, 10/28, 11/18, 12/2, 12/23
- 2024 Departures: 1/13, 1/27, 2/17, 3/9, 3/23, 4/13
Each of these sailings are 7-night Eastern Caribbean itineraries. These are not the only Eastern Caribbean cruises Mardi Gras is sailing, however, but other departure dates have not yet been affected. The remaining Eastern Caribbean sailings still include San Juan on the itinerary.
In February, Carnival Cruise Line made a similar move to swap Mardi Gras‘ San Juan calls with Nassau, and this latest change appears to be a continuation of that adjustment.
Tours to Be Refunded
No further details about the port swap have been discussed, including whether or not the time in port will be affected.
The 181,808-gross-ton ship was expected to be in San Juan from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the impacted cruises, bringing 5,282 guests (double occupancy) or as many as 6,500 guests (fully booked) to visit the island each time.
Pre-booked shore tours already planned for San Juan will be canceled automatically, and refunds will be processed back to guests’ original form of payment.
What “Operational Plans” May Mean
While Carnival Cruise Line has not clarified what “operational plans” are being refined that have resulted in so many itineraries dropping San Juan as port of call, there are several possible options.
It may be that other cruise ships scheduled for San Juan at the time may make the port more crowded than desired to provide the best possible guest experience, or appropriate berths may be unavailable.
It is also possible that other port operations or pier construction in San Juan will be impacting the ability for the Excel-class vessel, the largest in Carnival Cruise Line’s fleet, to dock as desired on the affected dates.
It is not unusual for cruise lines to change planned itineraries, even well in advance, as ongoing fleet deployments, dry dock and maintenance schedules, and pier availability may change.
While such changes can be disappointing for guests who were anticipating specific ports of call, providing notice well in advance does permit some time for travelers to adjust their plans or shift their cruises to different itineraries if preferred.
Cruise lines are not obligated to offer compensation, either as refunds, onboard credit, or other bonuses, when ports of call are changed.
Mardi Gras first called on San Juan on August 3, 2021. This was part of the ship’s maiden voyage and her first ever port of call, as well as the first time a ship brought passengers to the island in 17 months, signally the official post-pandemic restart of cruising to Puerto Rico.