Severe weather in south Florida over the past few days, particularly around Fort Lauderdale and Port Everglades, may have significant impacts on cruise travelers, especially those who may be flying into Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL). Flooding and rain damage may also create difficulties for travelers driving to the cruise port.
Weather Impacts Port Everglades
A series of severe storms and torrential rain through Broward County, Florida on Wednesday, April 12 and early Thursday, April 13, 2023 caused severe flooding and damage in different areas.
As a result, Port Everglades is undergoing a damage assessment and while the port is currently open, there are possible delays for cruise guests.
As much as 14-20 inches of rain fell in some parts of the region in a matter of hours, closing roads and stranding motorists. As a result, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport closed just after 4 p.m. on Wednesday, with more than 360 flights cancelled and several diverted to other airports.
Broward County Public Schools, the sixth-largest school system in the United States, was also closed for Thursday, with all school activities cancelled, and many businesses closed during the worst of the weather.
As of 10:30 a.m. on Thursday morning, the City of Fort Lauderdale was still under a flood advisory, alerting residents and visitors alike to dangerous conditions.
“Many roads across the City are still impassable due to flooding. Please avoid driving, if possible. Never drive through high water. Turn around, don’t drown,” the city’s website said.
Only one cruise ship is scheduled at Port Everglades on Thursday – Viking Octantis is stopping in Fort Lauderdale as a port of call during her seasonal repositioning from Buenos Aires to Toronto, and some guests may be embarking or debarking the vessel, depending on how they booked their cruise arrangements.
If local damage is widespread, however, cruises over the weekend may be impacted by the severe weather as well.
Royal Caribbean International’s Liberty of the Seas will be in Port Everglades on Friday, April 14, while five different vessels are scheduled for Saturday, April 15: Princess Cruises’ Caribbean Princess, Costa Cruises’ Costa Deliziosa, Holland America Line’s Volendam, and two ships from Celebrity Cruises, Celebrity Equinox and Celebrity Apex.
Similarly, five vessels are also scheduled for Sunday, April 16: Princess Cruises’ Regal Princess and Emerald Princess, Royal Caribbean International’s Odyssey of the Seas, and Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Reflection and Celebrity Beyond.
Depending on any damaged assessed to the port facilities, docks, or gangways, cruise lines may be impacted with delays or shifting where ships are able to safely dock.
Cruise guests should be aware that local road closures could also impact travel time or preferred routes to the port terminals, and parking areas may also have some flooding that could create difficulties.
It is best for all cruise guests booked on Fort Lauderdale cruises this weekend to stay in close contact with their cruise line about the possibility of delays or terminal changes. Guests should also plan extra time to reach the cruise port safely.
Guests flying in for their sailings should stay in touch with their airlines for diversions or cancellations, and possibly make alternative travel arrangements if possible, such as flying into a different airport and planning to drive to Port Everglades.
Miami International Airport (MIA) is just 30 miles (48 kilometers) south of Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, while Palm Beach International Airport (PBI) is 50 miles (80 km) north.
Weekend Weather Forecast
Fortunately for this weekend’s cruisers, local weather looks much more promising. Rains will be tapering off, giving the existing water time to drain naturally even as work crews are clearing drainage systems and removing flooded or broken-down vehicles.
While there are chances of afternoon showers each day, this is normal weather for the time of year and overall rain chances do not get above 50%, though scattered storms are always a possibility.
Having cruise port weather alerts on a smartphone or other mobile device is a good step for any cruise travelers to stay updated on conditions as they get ready to set sail.