Carnival Paradise, the only cruise ship currently homeported from Port Tampa Bay, will be remaining longer in Cozumel, Mexico, as Hurricane Ian approaches the Florida peninsula.
Carnival Cruise Line has also informed guests booked on the following September 29 departure from Tampa, that the cruise is now canceled.
Carnival Paradise to Remain in Cozumel
The Fantasy-class Carnival Paradise is currently sailing a 5-night Western Caribbean itinerary. The ship departed Tampa on schedule on Saturday, September 29, and after a first day at sea, enjoyed a visit to Roatan on Monday.
Today, the ship is in Cozumel, Mexico, and guests have been informed that they will remain in Cozumel awhile longer as the storm continues on its projected track toward Florida’s west coast.
John Heald, Carnival Cruise Line brand ambassador and senior cruise director, made the announcement via social media at approximately noon on Tuesday.
“We are in the process of informing everybody on board the ship currently that we will be keeping them in Cozumel and away from the storm,” he said.
It is not yet clear whether the ship will remain docked in Cozumel to allow passengers to explore onshore later than planned, or if the vessel will depart at 8 p.m. as scheduled and simply remain nearby, without beginning its return to Tampa.
Carnival Paradise is scheduled for another day at sea on Wednesday, with a planned arrival in Tampa by 8 a.m. on Thursday, September 29.
The ship’s master, Captain Roja, has also made announcements to keep guests informed of the storm’s impact on their itinerary.
“As a customary precaution, we expect the Port of Tampa will close to marine traffic. At this point, there is a possibility that Carnival Paradise’s return to Tampa could be delayed due to the storm,” Roja said. “The ship will remain a safe distance from the storm at all times and in the very capable hands of our trained officers and crew.”
Tuesday afternoon, the United States Coast Guard set Port Tampa Bay at Condition Zulu, with the port closed to all traffic as gale force winds are expected within 12 hours.
The length of any delay will depend on the storm’s speed as it leaves the region and any damage that may be done to port facilities. Before the port reopens, marine channels will also need to be inspected to be sure there is no submerged debris that could endanger vessels.
“While the port’s waterways are closed, our port staff will continue to work to ensure we can re-open to full operations as soon as safely possible to support the community and region we serve,” port authorities said in a statement.
It is possible the cruise ship could be delayed just a few hours, or it may be a full day or more before Carnival Paradise is able to return to Tampa. It is also possible – though not necessarily likely – that the ship could be rerouted to disembark passengers at a different Florida homeport.
Read More: Multiple Cruise Ship Itinerary Changes as Hurricane Ian Aims for Florida
As of Tuesday afternoon, Hurricane Ian is approximately 275 miles (443 kilometers) south-southeast of Tampa, moving north at 10 miles per hour (16 kph). The storm is predicted to shift to the east later in the day, and will most likely make landfall slightly south of Tampa on Wednesday evening.
The storm has maximum sustained winds of 120 miles per hour (193 kph), making it a Category 3 storm on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. It is possible the storm may continue to strengthen even further before making landfall.
Next Sailing Canceled
Carnival Paradise was also scheduled to depart on its next sailing, a 4-night roundtrip to Cozumel, on Thursday. The cruise line reached out to booked guests via email on Monday evening to keep them informed of the situation.
“The safety and security of our guests and crew are our first priority and it may be necessary to make changes to your cruise,” the email read. “In order to provide you with timely updates, as we continue to monitor weather forecasts and work with port authorities, we encourage you to sign up for text alerts by texting CCL1 to CRUISE (278473).”
Since that update, Carnival Cruise Line has now decided to cancel the Carnival Paradise September 29 sailing from Port Canaveral. It comes as Port Canaveral announced condition ZULU, meaning that the port will be closed from midnight on Wednesday morning. Carnival is informing all impacted guests on the following sailing about their options via email.