Severe Weather Impacting Multiple Cruise Ships

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Multiple ships from multiple cruise lines are heavily impacted by expected severe weather from the Bahamas to South Florida this weekend, with changes ranging from Wednesday, December 13, through Sunday, December 17, 2023 as the weather has developed.

In the interest of guests’ safety and comfort, cruise lines are cancelling ports of call and shifting routes to find the smoothest sailing to take advantage of.

Bad Weather Causing Multiple Itinerary Changes

Rough seas, high swells, and strong winds are causing multiple cruise ships to change itineraries this weekend. Experienced cruise travelers are very familiar with such changes, and ports of call may always be adjusted due to inclement weather that could cause hazardous navigational challenges for docking or make it unsafe for guests to walk along exposed piers or use tender boats.

Depending on the ship’s original itinerary, some changes have been minor, while others are more extensive. In most cases, the ships may instead spend a day at sea, where they can safely ride out poor weather while keeping guests as comfortable as possible.

Each of the following ships has itinerary updates related to this weekend’s expected rough weather.

Sky Princess – December 16 Sailing

Due to the size and strength of the weather system over the Bahamas and Florida, the Sky Princess’s December 16 sailing out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, has been altered.

Sky Princess Cruise Ship
Sky Princess Cruise Ship (Photo Credit: P.Cartwright / Shutterstock)

The vessel has cancelled its scheduled call to Princess Cays in the Bahamas on December 17. The call to San Juan, Puerto Rico, on December 19 is still expected to go ahead, a letter said to passengers.

Carnival Pride – December 17 Sailing

Carnival Cruise Line has informed guests arriving for their Carnival Pride December 17 departure from Port Tampa Bay that embarkation is delayed by two hours. The Spirit-class ship is still scheduled to visit Cozumel, Belize, and Costa Maya during its six-night voyage.

Carnival Freedom – December 14 Sailing

Carnival Freedom has a major impact on its itinerary due to the severe weather across the region. The ship was unable to safely call at Nassau on December 15 and Princess Cays on December 16.

Instead, the ship added an unscheduled visit to Freeport in the Bahamas, but this did not go to plan as Carnival Pride was also unable to dock there. The vessel is sailing a cruise nowhere until arriving back home to Port Canaveral on December 18. The cruise line is providing a $200 onboard credit per stateroom. More details can be found here.

MSC Meraviglia – December 16 Sailing

The Meraviglia-class cruise ship has a significant itinerary change, which guests were notified about on December 15. With the bad weather conditions impacting Florida and the Bahamas, the cruise line has decided to send the ship up north rather than heading south.

MSC Meraviglia Cruise Ship
MSC Meraviglia Cruise Ship (Photo Credit: Mariusz Lopusiewicz)

MSC Meraviglia’s December 16 sailing out of New York City was originally scheduled to visit Port Canaveral in Florida, Nassau in the Bahamas, and its private island of Ocean Cay, also in the Bahamas. Instead, the ship is spending an overnight in Boston, along with calls at Portland and St. John in Canada, before returning to the Big Apple on December 23. Our full coverage can be found here.

Allure of the Seas – December 11 Sailing

Royal Caribbean International’s 225,282-gross ton, Oasis-class Allure of the Seas was unable to visit Perfect Day at CocoCay during the current sailing, a 4-night “Bahamas & Perfect Day” cruise that departed Port Canaveral on Monday, December 11. Guests were refunded the port fees and any pre-paid shore excursions for missing the popular destination.

Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas
Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas (Photo Credit: Andres Felipe Perez)

Combined with wind from the ship’s movement, gusts near the ship were reported as high as 55 knots (63 miles per hour / 102 kilometers per hour), and the ship’s captain sought shelter between small islands to keep guests more comfortable overnight.

Allure of the Seas arrived back at Port Canaveral on schedule on Friday morning, though it is likely her next itinerary – a 3-night weekend getaway to Nassau and CocoCay, will also be impacted by the poor weather.

Mariner of the Seas – December 14 Sailing

Another Royal Caribbean ship, the 139,863-gross-ton, Voyager-class Mariner of the Seas has shifted her entire weekend itinerary to avoid the stormy seas. The ship departed Port Canaveral on Thursday, December 14, on what was to have been a 4-night “Perfect Day & Bahamas” cruise to CocoCay and Nassau. Instead, guests were notified at embarkation that the original itinerary was no longer possible.

Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas Cruise Ship
Photo Credit: Melissa Mayntz

“We’re terribly sorry for the last-minute change caused by the weather – your safety is our top priority,” the notification read. “Please know being onboard is one of the safest places because we are faster and can move out of the way of any inclement weather.”

Instead of her original schedule, the ship is instead heading to Costa Maya, Mexico. Friday is a day at sea, the ship will be in Costa Maya from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, and Sunday will be another day at sea while the ship heads back to Florida for debarkation as planned on Monday, December 18.

Liberty of the Seas – December 11 Sailing

Royal Caribbean’s 155,889-gross-ton, Freedom-class Liberty of the Seas has likewise missed a visit to CocoCay on the current sailing, a 4-night “Bahamas & Perfect Day” cruise that departed Fort Lauderdale on Monday, December 11. The stop in CocoCay was to have been on Wednesday, December 13, but was not possible due to high winds.

Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas
Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas (Photo Credit: Debbie Ann Powell / Shutterstock)

The ship returned to Fort Lauderdale on schedule on Friday, December 15, but it is possible the next sailing – a 3-night cruise that is planned to visit Nassau and CocoCay over the weekend – will be severely adjusted. Guests will be notified as soon as plans are confirmed.

Carnival Vista – December 10 Sailing

Carnival Cruise Line’s 133,596-gross-ton Carnival Vista, which was just involved with an at-sea rescue of stranded crew members from a capsized cargo vessel, was forced to skip the scheduled stop in Grand Turk on Thursday, December 14. Instead, the ship enjoyed an extra day at sea on her way back to Port Canaveral.

Carnival Vista Cruise Ship
Photo Credit: SeregaSibTravel / Shutterstock

“There is some very windy weather around the Bahamas and part of the western Caribbean,” said John Heald, Carnival Cruise Line’s Brand Ambassador. “Please trust the captain, trust the crew. They will keep you safe, always.”

The ship’s arrival on Saturday, December 16, should not be impacted, but the next sailing – a 6-night Eastern Caribbean sailing with visits to Nassau, Amber Cove, and Grand Turk – may be adjusted with cancellations or reordering the port visits for smoother sailing.

Carnival Venezia – December 10 Sailing

Carnival Venezia is another Carnival cruise ship that has been forced to make an itinerary change due to the bad weather. The scheduled port of call to the cruise line’s private island of Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas on December 15 was cancelled. Passengers currently onboard also report that the ship had a brief power failure shortly after departing Nassau on December 14.

The ship is sailing an eight-night Bahamas itinerary, which did have a delayed departure out of New York City and ended up remaining overnight. You can read more about the delayed departure here.

Norwegian Escape – December 9 Sailing

The last day of Norwegian Cruise Line’s 164,998-gross-ton, Breakaway-Plus-class Norwegian Escape‘s current sailing has been turned into a sea day, with the call on Great Stirrup Cay cancelled.

The ship departed Port Canaveral on Saturday, December 9, for an Eastern Caribbean itinerary, visiting the Dominican Republic, St. Thomas, and Tortola. Great Stirrup Cay was to have been the final port of call for the sailing, but now the ship is heading straight back to Port Canaveral.

Norwegian Escape Cruise Ship
Photo Credit: Mariusz Lopusiewicz / Shutterstock

Guests have been provided $50 of onboard credit as compensation for the missed port. The private island destination is a favorite among cruisers.

Nieuw Amsterdam – December 16 Sailing

One of the most dramatic adjustments for the poor weather is Holland America Line’s Nieuw Amsterdam. The ship is scheduled to return to service from a two-week dry dock in Freeport, Bahamas on Saturday, December 16, 2023, just when the worst of the weather is expected to impact South Florida.

Holland America Cruise Ship
Photo Courtesy: Holland America Line

Because of this, the cruise has now been shortened by two days and will not depart until Monday, December 18. Guests are receiving generous compensation for the dramatic adjustment, which includes cancelling most planned ports of call due to the shortened sailing time.

Margaritaville at Sea Paradise – December 15 Sailing

The boutique cruise line Margaritaville at Sea, which operates 2-night sailings to Freeport, Bahamas from Port of Palm Beach, Florida, has completely cancelled the Friday, December 15 departure of its only vessel, Margaritaville at Sea Paradise.

Guests are urged to contact the cruise line directly by phone or email for updates and to rebook their sailing. Since the cruise line is a popular option for quick getaways for drive-in travelers, it should be possible for many travelers to change their plans to a different sailing date.

Stay tuned to Cruise Hive for further updates and itinerary changes as they are confirmed through the weekend.

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