Carnival Ship to Continue to Sail From Norfolk – One Cruise at a Time

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Guests booked aboard the May 12 departure of Carnival Pride have only just received confirmation that their ship will be both departing from and returning to Norfolk, Virginia rather than Baltimore, Maryland as originally scheduled. While this is not unexpected news, passengers are surprised that the cruise line is waiting until less than four days prior to embarkation to confirm those plans.

Carnival Cruise Line did reach out to booked guests two days earlier to let them know that the final decision of which port the ship would operate from would be made on Wednesday, May 8. It wasn’t until the evening, however, when the confirmation was emailed to travelers.

“Thank you for your patience as we continue to work with federal, state, and local officials to return our cruise operations to Baltimore. Our discussions make it clear that while progress is being made, additional time is still needed, so we must operate your cruise from Norfolk,” the email explained.

Carnival Pride, Francis Scott Key Bridge, Port of Baltimore
Carnival Pride in Baltimore (Photo Credit: Carnival Cruise Line)

In the meantime, Carnival Pride must continue to operate from her temporary homeport – 235 miles (378 kilometers) away. Carnival Cruise Line shifted operations to Norfolk immediately following the tragic collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge on March 26, and has continued to keep travelers updated as much as possible about upcoming sailings.

The cruise line is also providing complimentary bus transportation between Baltimore and Norfolk, but guests must register to reserve their space.

“We can only accommodate guests who sign up and pre-register for the bus service,” the email stressed. “You must pre-register to secure your spot.”

The ride between the cruise ports is approximately five hours, and a light snack and water will be provided. Shuttle service is only on embarkation day, beginning at 8:30 a.m., with the last bus departing at 10:30 a.m. Travelers must register no later than 4 p.m. on Thursday, May 9, and in doing so, they must reserve the return trip from Norfolk to Baltimore at the end of the cruise.

The embarkation timeframe on Sunday, May 12, has been extended slightly, but all guests must be onboard no later than 4 p.m. for the ship’s departure. Carnival Pride will be sailing a 7-night Eastern Caribbean itinerary with visits to Grand Turk, Half Moon Cay, and Freeport.

All guests, whether or not they use the shuttle service, are being provided with a $100 (USD) onboard credit per stateroom in appreciation for understanding this unique and challenging situation.

When Will the Port of Baltimore Reopen?

No details about the progress toward reopening the Port of Baltimore have been released, and there is no firm date yet for when cruise operations may resume from Baltimore. Wreckage must still be removed from the Patapsco River, including the Dali, and dredging must be completed to ensure safe passage for vessels.

Port of Baltimore has released updates on the progress when appropriate. It is hoped that the port’s permanent 700-foot-wide, 50-foot-deep channel will reopen by the end of May.

Baltimore Bridge Collapse
Baltimore Bridge Collapse (Photo Credit: Andrew Leyden / Shutterstock)

Read Also: How Is the Baltimore Bridge Collapse Impacting Cruises?

Even if the channel is reopened at that time, it is possible that cruise traffic may still be suspended depending on whether the cruise terminal is needed for use as an operations center as work continues.

It should be noted that Carnival Cruise Line has no say in when the port may reopen for passenger traffic, and is doing an admirable job of assisting passengers and providing shuttle service during this unprecedented situation.

Some travelers are frustrated with the cruise line for not notifying guests earlier about which homeport their sailing will use. For the May 5 sailing, for example, guests were notified on April 23 about their Norfolk departure – 12 days before embarkation.

The shortening of time between notification and embarkation, however, could be a good sign that it is becoming more and more likely that the Port of Baltimore is closer to reopening. Guests booked on any Carnival Pride sailing in the coming weeks should stay in close communication with the cruise line for updates to their homeport arrangements.

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