Carnival Cruise Line has contacted booked guests on upcoming Mardi Gras sailings to inform them of an itinerary change, dropping San Juan, Puerto Rico from the schedule and substituting Nassau, The Bahamas, instead. This itinerary change applies to numerous Exotic Eastern Caribbean voyages in the coming months, beginning with the ship’s scheduled February 26, 2022 sailing.
San Juan Dropped From Schedule
No explanation for the itinerary change has been given, but it is possible that ongoing local COVID-19 testing requirements or health and safety protocols may be part of the reasoning.
The email, sent to guests on February 18, 2022, stated: “As we continue to refine our operational plans for your cruise, we have made some itinerary changes to your sailing. We have replaced our visit to San Juan, Puerto Rico, with a call on Nassau, The Bahamas. The full itinerary details will be reflected on Carnival.com within 24 hours.”
Many cruise lines suspended upcoming visits to San Juan in late December 2021, when local authorities implemented strict testing requirements. Those requirements were to be relaxed earlier this month, however, with cruise ship passengers no longer needing to present negative test results within 48 hours prior to arrival in Puerto Rico.
Instead, simply providing proof of vaccination was sufficient for cruise travelers to enjoy San Juan as a port of call, though the stricter requirements remained if ships were to use the port for embarkation or debarkation.
With regards to arriving into the island, Puerto Rico’s Official Tourism Website states: “As of February 2nd, vaccinated travelers are no longer required to present a negative test.”
Furthermore, details specifically for cruise ship port of calls state: “For ships to be permitted entry to Puerto Rico, all guests 12 years of age or older must be fully vaccinated with an FDA or WHO vaccine. Unvaccinated passengers cannot disembark in Puerto Rico except for children under 12 years of age.”
No further restrictions are listed for cruise ship visits, though travelers are advised to check with their cruise line for up-to-date guidelines from the cruise operator.
Other possible explanations for these continued port of call cancelations may be related to other ships visiting San Juan at the same time, creating crowding at the port, or fuel costs for operating cruises over that distance.
Some speculation has also considered the idea that Mardi Gras may be experiencing engine issues that could affect her top cruising speed, making reaching Puerto Rico – which is approximately 1,150 miles from the ship’s home port, Port Canaveral – more challenging. In comparison, Nassau is roughly 310 miles from Port Canaveral. No confirmation of this possibility has been given, however.
While multiple sailings have been impacted, there is no overall date range for how many itineraries are being changed. Guests booked on Mardi Gras in the coming weeks and months should stay alert to notifications from Carnival Cruise Line about alterations to their itineraries.
Shore Excursions Refunded
For booked guests who had already pre-paid for San Juan shore excursions through Carnival Cruise Line, those charges will be refunded to guests’ Sail & Sign accounts for the February 26 sailing, and back to the original form of payment for future impacted sailings.
As soon as the itinerary change is reflected on Carnival.com, guests will be able to pre-book shore excursions for Nassau.
Read More: IDEAL Things to Do in Nassau, Bahamas
For the time being, there are no further changes to Mardi Gras’ Exotic Eastern Caribbean itineraries, except for a minor rearrange of the days at sea. The ship will first have a day at sea, before calling on Nassau the next day. The ship will be docked in Nassau from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., the same hours in port that had been planned for San Juan.
Another day at sea will follow the day in Nassau, then the remaining two ports of call – Amber Cove in the Dominican Republic, and Grand Turk in the Turks and Caicos – before a final day at sea as the ship returns to Port Canaveral.