Cruise guests traveling out of Port of Galveston or Port of New Orleans this week will need to be aware of the potential impact icy weather could have on port operations, local traffic, and travel conditions.
While cruises are thus far operating normally, both ports have already seen the effects of plummeting temperatures and unusually harsh winter weather for their southern locations.
Wintery Weather Impacting Southern US Homeports
Many cruise travelers enjoy winter getaways to tropical destinations like the Bahamas, Mexico, and the Caribbean as an escape from ice and snow. An unusual winter storm dipping into the southern US, however, is bringing chilly conditions to southern homeports and could cause challenges for travelers this week.
Impact on Galveston
Galveston Wharves administrative offices, for example, were closed on Tuesday, January 16, 2024 in preparation for the poor weather. Temperatures dropped into the mid-20s Fahrenheit on Tuesday morning, with gusty winds creating even colder conditions.
Fortunately, no cruise ships were in port on Tuesday, but Disney Cruise Line’s Disney Magic is scheduled for Wednesday, January 17. Travelers should be alert to possible traffic difficulties if icy roads pose a problem.
Very little precipitation was recorded in the Galveston area on Tuesday, so any ice accumulation or other challenges should be minimized.
Impact on New Orleans
Port of New Orleans has experienced even stronger impact from the winter weather, due to the port’s location on the Mississippi Delta.
While port operations continued as normal through Tuesday, January 16, the Florida Avenue Bridge was closed. This bridge closure could impact traffic flow to the cruise terminals, depending on what route travelers take to reach the port facilities.
The closure announcement read: “Due to bridge control system issues which may be weather related, the Florida Avenue Bridge will be closed to vehicular traffic until further notice. The bridge will remain raised and open to marine traffic until conditions improve and the problem is resolved.”
The type of “bridge control system issues” impacting the bridge’s operation were not detailed, but could relate to extreme cold affecting either the electrical or hydraulic components of the bridge.
On Tuesday, temperatures in New Orleans dropped as low as the mid-20s Fahrenheit, with light snow creating slippery conditions in some areas. Wind gusts also further lowered the temperature and created challenging conditions.
No cruise ships were in Port of New Orleans on Tuesday. The next ship to arrive will be Carnival Valor on Thursday, January 18, by which time the majority of the poor weather should have passed.
Impact on Mobile
While Port Mobile is likewise subject to poor weather this week, no significant impact to port operations has been announced. As only Carnival Spirit is currently homeported from Alabama, no ships are in port during the week when conditions will be at their worst.
Carnival Spirit is currently sailing a 6-night roundtrip cruise to the Bahamas, having left Mobile on Sunday, January 14. The ship is visiting Bimini and Nassau, and will return to Alabama on Saturday, January 20.
Florida Homeports Unaffected
While many parts of Florida will be getting a wintery blast this week, none of Florida’s five cruise homeports expect any significant impact from the cold.
Cruise guests to any of the southern US homeports in the path of this winter weather should carefully monitor their travel plans, especially if flights may be delayed or traffic patterns disrupted to reach the cruise port.
Planning for adequate time to reach cruise terminals will be essential, and travelers should be prepared for colder-than-typical temperatures when embarking or debarking their ships. Dress accordingly, and plan for a mug of hot cocoa or fresh coffee onboard to combat the cold!