While many cruise travelers are fortunate to live within driving distance of one or more cruise homeports, other guests must fly to reach the ship to enjoy their oceangoing getaway.
When poor weather interferes, just getting to the ship can be a saga in itself, as one West Virginia couple discovered as they raced to meet Carnival Jubilee for the ship’s January 20, 2024 departure.
Weather Impacts Travel to Carnival Jubilee
Haleigh Brooke and Adam Garrell were excited about setting sail on Carnival Cruise Line’s newest ship, Carnival Jubilee, on January 20 – until the weekend’s winter storm derailed their travel plans.
The couple lives close to Charleston, West Virginia and had booked airfare to travel to Galveston in anticipating of their winter getaway. When the storm interfered, Brooke took to social media to document their adventures as they struggled to reach the ship in time.
“When making the flight booking in the summer we never expected to get 10+ inches of snow this week,” said Brooke in a Facebook post. “Our flight from [Charleston] got delayed but when we made it to the airport we were told it had been canceled just moments before arriving. We decided our best option was to rush to Charlotte in hopes to catch our layover flight.”
The drive between the Charleston and Charlotte airports is 270 miles (435 kilometers), which would normally take just over four hours in good weather with reasonable traffic. In the poor conditions with the snowstorm, however, it could have taken much longer. At the time the couple was making their drive, the entire state of West Virginia was under a state of emergency.
According to the National Weather Service, in a normal year, the Charleston, West Virginia area gets roughly 10 inches of snow during the month of January – but not all within a single storm.
The couple made the drive to Charlotte with just 10 minutes to spare before their boarding time, but had difficulty printing their new luggage tags and were ultimately unable to make their scheduled flight from Charlotte to Galveston.
“Although we could no longer board the flight we were supposed to be on, they were able to get us on the next flight leaving in a little over an hour later,” Brooke explained. “After this things went smoothly.”
The couple did succeed in making it to Carnival Jubilee on time – largely because they had planned to travel the day before setting sail, a travel tip many frequent cruisers have learned.
If their flights had been on embarkation day, it is unlikely they would have succeeded, and might instead have been left at the port – as happened to several Discovery Princess guests who missed their ship by mere minutes.
Throughout the couple’s journey, readers on social media kept up with their travels with encouragement and offers of help along the way. Some readers alerted the couple to road construction, offered rides from the airport, or were “standing by” if help was necessary.
Toasting Successful Travel
A fun part of the couple’s frantic trip was social media readers offering to buy them drinks in the airport as they waited for their next flight, to help calm their nerves and give them a little vacation spirit.
“To say I needed the drinks we got while waiting to board this flight is an understatement,” Brooke said. “We absolutely felt like we were on The Amazing Race! Thank you guys for your enthusiasm, encouragement, and support.”
It should be noted that the couple did not drink while driving, but only during the nerve-wracking wait for their standby flight at the Charlotte airport, in the hopes that there would be space for them to board.
Many readers also praised the couple’s positive attitude and perseverance for making their travel work without taking out their frustrations on airport personnel.
Though the couple was rushed to make their flights and reach Galveston, Carnival Jubilee was actually delayed for their sailing due to a medical emergency that required a significant diversion. Of course, there was no way for the couple to know this as they made their way across the country.