Two Holland America Line ships will now be staying at sea for at least one extra day to avoid the impact of Tropical Storm Nicole, which is closing cruise homeports in Florida as she approaches the Sunshine State.
Both ms Eurodam and ms Rotterdam will not be returning to Port Everglades as scheduled on Wednesday, November 9, 2022, and no confirmation has yet been made about their eventual debarkation dates.
Ships to Stay at Sea, Homeport Closed
As Tropical Storm Nicole heads for southeast Florida, Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale – homeport for both Eurodam and Rotterdam – has be elevated to Condition Zulu, with all port operations ceased and the port is closed.
Condition Zulu went into effect at 8 p.m. on Tuesday night, and will not be lifted until the storm has passed, wind speeds have dropped, and safety inspections confirm that the port can safely reopen to marine traffic.
Both cruise ships were originally scheduled to return to Port Everglades on Wednesday morning, with their next cruises to begin that afternoon.
The Signature-class Eurodam is currently sailing an 11-night cruise, with visits to Half Moon Cay in The Bahamas as well as Aruba, Curacao, Colombia, and Costa Rica. A special highlight of the trip has been a partial transit of the Panama Canal.
The Pinnacle-class Rotterdam, the newest ship in the Holland America Line fleet, is sailing a 10-night Southern Caribbean itinerary, with calls in Half Moon Cay, the Dominican Republic, Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, and Grand Turk.
Both ships were scheduled to end their sailings on November 9, but with Port Everglades now closed, the ships will remain at sea, safely out of the path and impact of the storm, either until the port reopens and they can return, or an alternative debarkation point can be arranged.
Guests currently onboard both vessels have confirmed announcements by the ships’ respective captains informing passengers of the delay.
This type of delay is not unprecedented when a homeport closed; several cruise ships had similar delays in September with Hurricane Ian. Similarly, Celebrity Eclipse was delayed in Australia on November 3 due to weather that created unsafe docking conditions, and cruise ships are occasionally delayed by fog, wind, or other inclement weather.
What Happens Now?
When a homeport is closed, cruise ships may remain at sea until the port reopens, especially if the delay is expected to be minimal and port operations can accommodate the change with respect to other docking schedules.
Another option can be for a ship to seek a different homeport to disembark guests. This might happen if a delay is expected to be much longer or if a port facility is significantly damaged.
When ships return to an unexpected homeport, the cruise line will help with making arrangements for guests to either return home with alternative flight plans, or may make arrangements such as charter busses or other transportation to bring guests back to the original port. When this is necessary, cruise lines will often help cover the costs of flight changes, but full reimbursement may vary.
As Tropical Storm Nicole is still developing and has not yet passed the available homeports, no debarking arrangements are yet confirmed for guests onboard Eurodam or Rotterdam.
Similarly, the next upcoming cruises for both ships will be impacted, either with shortened itineraries or outright cancelations.
As both ships are making lengthy voyages for their next sailings – originally planned as an 11-night sailing for Eurodam and a 21-night sailing for Rotterdam – it is most likely the cruise line will shorten those upcoming cruises rather than cancel them altogether.
Stay tuned to Cruise Hive for further updates on Tropical Storm Nicole and her impact on cruise travel.