Carnival Cruise Ship Delayed Back to South Carolina

Yet another Carnival ship is impacted by bad weather - this one sailing from Charleston, South Carolina. But why, and how much is she affected?

Carnival Cruise line has reached out to booked guests for Carnival Sunshine‘s December 18, 2023 sailing date to alert them to an embarkation delay.

The ship is currently finishing a cruise with a day at sea returning to Charleston, South Carolina, but rough weather is impacting her overall speed and the ship’s return will be delayed. This will subsequently delay the next cruise.

Carnival Sunshine Delayed

On Sunday, December 17, 2023, Carnival Sunshine spent the day at sea as the last day of a 4-night roundtrip sailing to the Bahamas from her homeport of Charleston, South Carolina.

Along the way, however, the ship encountered rough weather, the same massive storm system that has impacted more than a dozen different ships not only from Carnival Cruise Line, but also Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean International, Holland America Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, MSC Cruises, and Margaritaville at Sea.

Carnival Cruise Line has notified guests on the ship’s next sailing, her Monday, December 18 departure, that the ship will be delayed, which will impact their embarkation.

“The ship is experiencing unfavorable weather as she sails back to Charleston and arrival will be delayed. This will affect your embarkation,” the email explained. “We will continue to monitor the situation and provide you with an update by 8 AM, Monday, December 18. Please do not proceed to the cruise terminal until you receive our final update.”

Guests are advised to sign up for text alerts to get the fastest notification of any changes and updates. The impacted sailing is a 5-night Bahamas itinerary, with calls to Half Moon Cay and Freeport before the ship returns to Charleston on Saturday, December 23.

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

“We apologize for this weather-related delay and thank you for your understanding. We will be in touch,” the email concluded.

The extent of the delay is not yet known, and will likely remain unknown through the evening and early nighttime hours as the ship continues to make her way back to Charleston. As of 4 p.m. on Sunday afternoon, her estimated time of arrival (ETA) into Charleston was 5 p.m. on Monday.

This may seem like an extreme delay, but it is also likely the ship will be able to speed up in the overnight hours as she reaches calmer water and when fewer guests and crew members are moving about the ship. Even a small increase in speed could significantly alter her ETA and minimize the delay.

Ship Has Reduced Speed

Because of the poor weather, Carnival Sunshine has had to reduce sailing speed, which helps reduce wind forces and can keep the ship more stable in rough conditions.

Satellite tracking data on Sunday afternoon indicates the ship is sailing at just 11 knots (13 miles per hour / 20 kilometers per hour), roughly half her maximum speed of 21 knots (24 mph / 39 kph). Carnival Sunshine is currently encountering near gale force winds, as well as rough seas with swells reaching 12-13 feet (3.9 meters).

Carnival Cruise Line Storm
Carnival Cruise Line Storm (Photo Credit: Ramunas Bruzas / Shutterstock)

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

While the ship is certainly safe – cruise ships are well able to withstand far more punishing sea conditions – the sailing may be less than comfortable for guests onboard. By reducing speed, the ship’s motion can also be reduced, and her course can be angled slightly to provide as smooth a sailing experience as possible.

Carnival Sunshine, formerly Carnival Destiny until her massive renovation in 2013, is a 102,853-gross-ton vessel, originally built in 1996 – making her the oldest ship in the Carnival fleet. She can welcome 3,002 guests aboard at each sailing, and is also home to 1,150 international crew members.

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