Carnival Ship Delayed Due to Severe Weather, Strong Winds

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Carnival Sunshine, due to return to Charleston, South Carolina on Saturday, May 27, 2023, has been delayed due to severe weather. The ship is currently off the South Carolina coast and holding position, unable to return to the port because of high winds and rough seas.

Guests planning to board Carnival Sunshine today have been advised to wait before proceeding to the port for embarkation, and Carnival Cruise Line is providing regular updates about the weather conditions and how they impact the ship.

Carnival Sunshine Delayed

Carnival Cruise Line has reached out to guests booked to set sail aboard Carnival Sunshine today with news that their cruise will be delayed due to poor weather that makes proceeding into the port unsafe.

The first update was sent via text message on Friday evening, advising of the situation and alerting guests that there might be delays.

“The ship is experiencing adverse weather conditions sailing back to Charleston and may arrive later than scheduled tomorrow,” the text read.

Carnival Sunshine is concluding a 6-night roundtrip Bahamas cruise, which departed Charleston on Sunday, May 21, and enjoyed visits to Nassau, Bimini, and Half Moon Cay. The ship was to have arrived back in Charleston by 8 a.m. on Saturday morning, but as of 10 a.m. tracking data shows the ship still well offshore.

Tropical Storm Caribbean
Photo Credit: Drew McArthur / Shutterstock

Carnival Cruise Line brand ambassador John Heald has also helped alert cruisers to the situation.

“Ship went through some bad weather and rough seas, and that bad weather is still in the Charleston area which has stopped the ship from entering the port,” Heald said. “We are asking guests to sign up for text alerts … to stay updated.”

A second update at 8 a.m. Saturday morning informed guests that the ship continued to be delayed until weather conditions improve.

“For now, [the ship] is waiting at the entrance to the channel for conditions to improve,” the text read.

It is unknown when the weather may clear enough for the ship to safely proceed, but the cruise line’s Fleet Operations Center in Miami and local partners in Charleston are continually monitoring the situation.

Onboard Carnival Sunshine

Guests currently onboard the ship have reported rough conditions through the night, including strong rolling and waves as is typical when a cruise ship is navigating through challenging weather. They were notified on Friday evening that the Saturday morning docking would likely be delayed.

Access to the outer decks of the ship has been restricted due to high winds and slippery conditions, and crew members are taking all necessary precautions to keep everyone aboard safe and as comfortable as possible.

Cruise Ship in Storm
Photo Credit: Ramunas Bruzas / Shutterstock

The 102,853-gross-ton Carnival Sunshine (formerly Carnival Destiny) is the only cruise ship currently homeported from Charleston, though other vessel occasionally make port of call visits to the southern city. On Saturday, no other ships are due in the port.

Weather System off the Southeastern US

The severe weather impacting Carnival Sunshine is a non-tropical low pressure system located about 150 miles (241 kilometers) south of Charleston, causing heavy rain and strong winds.

The system is not expected to develop into tropical strength but is being monitored by the National Hurricane Center, and the wind patterns are cyclonic in nature.

Non-Tropical Disturbance
Image Credit: National Hurricane Center /

As of 10 a.m., wind gusts just outside Charleston Harbor are ranging from 30-36 knots (34-42 miles per hour / 55-67 kilometers per hour).

The National Weather Service has also issued a wind advisory for the region through 2 p.m. Saturday afternoon, predicting winds from 20-25 miles per hour (32-40 kilometers per hour), with gusts as high as 45 mph (72 kph).

Stay tuned to Cruise Hive for further updates as they are available on this developing situation.

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