Carnival Cruise Ship Delayed and Next Embarkation Impacted

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Carnival Sunshine had to slow down on her return to Charleston, South Carolina due to poor weather. This has had a knock on effect on embarkation for her February 8, 2024 departure, which is now delayed by several hours.

Incoming guests have been alerted to the change and advised to push back their arrival time to accommodate the delay.

Carnival Sunshine Delayed

Carnival Sunshine has not been able to return to Charleston, South Carolina on schedule due to poor weather on her way back from The Bahamas at the end of her current 5-night sailing.

Strong winds and waves made it difficult for the ship to sail at full speed and maintain optimal safety and comfort, and therefore her arrival back to her homeport is subsequently delayed.

The ship is several hours late, and guests scheduled to embark for the next cruise received emails and text alerts on Wednesday evening notifying them of the delay.

“Due to unfavorable weather, the ship will be arriving into Charleston later than scheduled and embarkation for your cruise has been revised,” the notification read. “We must allow debarking guests to leave the terminal and parking facility before we can accommodate your arrival.”

Travelers are asked to delay their terminal arrival appointment by three hours. This means a 12 p.m. arrival would become 3 p.m., a 1:30 p.m. appointment would become 4:30 p.m., and so forth.

“To ensure a smooth embarkation experience, please adhere to this schedule. Guests who arrive earlier will be asked to return at their newly assigned time,” the notification urged.

Carnival Sunshine Cruise Ship
Carnival Sunshine cruise Ship (Photo Credit: Vincent Doyle / Shutterstock)

All guests, however, must be onboard no later than 5:30 p.m. for the ship to depart. Originally, Carnival Sunshine‘s planned departure was 4 p.m., but this has been pushed back as much as possible to permit adequate time for both debarkation and embarkation.

The ship’s next sailing is a 4-night Bahamas cruise, with a day at sea first, followed by a full day in Nassau and another day at sea before returning to Charleston on Monday, February 12. At this time, there is no change to that itinerary.

Carnival Sunshine is homeported at Charleston through December 2024, after which she will be repositioned to Norfolk, Virginia to offer 6-night Bahamas itineraries as well as 8-night Eastern Caribbean cruises.

Why Embarkation Delays Are Necessary

Travelers may wonder why, if Carnival Sunshine has already arrived at the cruise terminal – which she has – any delay is necessary for embarkation.

Carnival Sunshine can welcome 3,002 guests per sailing at double occupancy, or as many as 3,758 travelers when fully booked with all berths filled. This means that 6,000-7,500 guests will be moving through the cruise terminal and nearby region in just a few hours, including parking areas as well as entry and exit roads.

Read Also: Did You Know, Carnival Sunshine Used to Be Carnival Destiny?

All debarking guests must be properly processed through US Customs and Border Protection, luggage must be sorted, and the ship resupplied for the next sailing, all of which takes time.

Carnival Sunshine
Carnival Sunshine (Photo Credit: Daniel Wright98 / Shutterstock)

Simultaneously, incoming guests must check in with the embarkation staff, including updating photos or otherwise completing boarding paperwork while their luggage is processed through security scanning and taken onboard.

The cruise terminal staff needs adequate time to complete debarking passengers before new arrivals can be processed. Furthermore, it is essential for departing guests to leave parking areas in order for spaces to be freed up for guests who are just beginning their cruise.

By delaying embarkation for several hours, Carnival Cruise Line is ensuring time for everyone to complete their duties efficiently, without making guests mill around in the cruise terminal and wait for service. Instead, guests are aware of the delay and can enjoy sites in Charleston, have lunch out, or otherwise use their time wisely to relax before their cruise vacation.

Delays may be caused by poor weather as has been the case for Carnival Sunshine, or by fog that makes navigation difficult when approaching the cruise terminal, which is a common hazard in homeports like Tampa and Galveston. Medical emergency diversions and propulsion issues can also contribute to unexpected delays.

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