Carnival Cruise Cancels All Ports, Now Cruising to Nowhere

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Guests aboard Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Freedom have not gotten the 4-night Bahamas weekend getaway they originally booked, thanks to rough weather that has cancelled both of the ship’s planned ports of call, as well as an alternative port that was to have been a replacement option.

Carnival Freedom Cancels All Ports of Call

Carnival Freedom departed Port Canaveral, Florida on Thursday, December 14, 2023 on what was to have been a 4-night Bahamas cruise. Instead, because of high winds and rough seas throughout the Bahamas, the ship has ended up taking a cruise to nowhere.

The original itinerary had the ship visiting Nassau on Friday, December 15, followed by Princess Cays on Saturday, December 16. After a day at sea, the ship will return to Port Canaveral on Monday, December 18.

Guests have been kept updated by the ship’s captain about various itinerary changes as the weather has been continually evaluated.

“In partnership with our Fleet Operations Center, we continue to monitor the weather. We are sorry, once again, for not being able to visit Nassau today,” a notification letter delivered to guests’ cabins on Friday read.

Carnival Freedom In Port Canaveral
Carnival Freedom In Port Canaveral (Credit: Port Canaveral)

“Regarding [Saturday], adverse conditions, which could make water shuttle operations unsafe, are forecasted for Princess Cays. As a result, we have made the decision to cancel our planned visit and will call on Freeport instead.”

Shore tours purchased through Carnival Cruise Line are being automatically refunded to guests’ onboard accounts.

“Thank you for your understanding. Please continue to enjoy your time on board,” the letter, signed by Captain Mario Imbimbo, concluded.

Replacement Port Also Skipped

Unfortunately, the poor weather also extended to Freeport by Saturday, and satellite tracking data showed that Carnival Freedom was unable to make that visit as well. GPS markers indicate the ship’s next destination is Port Canaveral, scheduled to arrive Monday morning in line with the original itinerary.

This means the ship is now sailing a cruise-to-nowhere, with no ports of call. This is an unusual situation, as cruise lines do make every effort to maintain their original itineraries as closely as possible, or else to substitute alternative ports when necessary.

Carnival Freedom Cruise Ship
Carnival Freedom at Port Canaveral (Photo Credit: Peter Titmuss / Shutterstock)

“We are sorry Mother Nature is not cooperating with us this weekend, preventing us from being able to visit a port,” a follow up letter read on Saturday. “We understand the disappointment that comes with these changes, and we sincerely apologize for the inconvenience caused.”

All port fees and taxes have been refunded to guests, and Carnival Cruise Line has also given a $200 onboard credit to each stateroom to help compensate for the inconvenience. The credit can be used for drinks, retail shopping, spa packages, photos, and other onboard purchases.

Read Also: What to Do Onboard a Cruise Ship in Bad Weather

Furthermore, all guests are receiving a 50% future cruise credit based on the cruise fare, to use on another Carnival cruise vacation. The credit must be redeemed by December 31, 2024.

The 110,000-gross-ton Carnival Freedom is a Conquest-class vessel, able to welcome 2,980 passengers aboard when booked at double occupancy, and up to 4,075 travelers when fully booked.

Also onboard are 1,150 international officers and crew members who want to ensure everyone stays safe, comfortable, and has a great cruise vacation even in challenging conditions.

Why Are All the Port Visits Cancelled?

Cancelling all ports of call on a sailing is never an ideal situation, but may be necessary when a bad weather system is as large and widespread and the one impacting the Gulf of Mexico, Florida, and the Bahamas this weekend.

Depending on the exact destination, wind direction, wave height, tidal conditions, and other factors, ports may not be safe for cruise ships to visit. Narrow harbor entrances or tight turning basins may be impossible to navigate if high winds push a ship, and using tender boats to ferry cruise guests ashore at some destinations is likewise impossible.

Cruise Ship Weather
Photo Credit: A. Kiro / Shutterstock

Even if a ship can dock at a pier safely, the condition of the pier and how much rocking the ship will do while docked also impact whether or not a port visit is possible.

If the ship is rocking too much, the gangways will not be stable and safe for guests or crew members to cross, or the ship’s mooring lines might snap and the vessel could begin to drift.

Worth Reading: How Does a Cruise Ship Stabilizer Work?

Similarly, if waves are crashing over a pier, it will not be safe for guests to walk off the cruise ship, and so a port might not be accessible to visitors.

Of course, many shore tours may also be cancelled on stormy days, as local flooding, rain, winds, and otherwise poor conditions may make it impossible to operate the tour safely. With little to do on shore, guests will have a more enjoyable time while remaining safer and more comfortable on the ship out to sea.

Onboard, crew members will work to provide extra activities, more live music, and unique entertainment opportunities so everyone can still have a great time, even without visiting a port of call.

Many ships from various cruise lines are impacted by this storm system. Cruise Hive wishes everyone safe, and smooth sailing as much as possible this weekend!

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