After the ship arrived -- and passengers had already set off for a day of sun or sightseeing -- sudden swells and deteriorating weather prompted the captain to push the departure time up by several hours for the safety of all onboard.
Sounds like a logistical nightmare, right? That's what we thought, too ... but Carnival was actually able to get everybody back onboard for an early getaway (Carnival Liberty was the only ship in port). A spokesman for the line tells us that no passengers were left behind -- and surprisingly there wasn't a need to wait or search for stragglers, which, let's face it, often happens even if ships are leaving on time.
Crewmembers were sent out to alert guests in the shopping area at the end of the pier and in the nearby village of the change in plans; guests who were on ship-sponsored excursions were simply brought back to the ship. Local tour operators and the taxi union joined in the rounding up as well (because only certain areas of Costa Maya are currently built up for tourism, folks don't generally venture too far on their own).
"When we arrived in port the conditions were not that bad. The weather got worse after we had docked," travelingfool posts in our Carnival forum. "We watched from the Lido deck as long lines of people got sprayed from the waves crashing up against the dock. [Carnival] did everything to make the port ... the captain was at the helm trying to keep the ship against the dock with the side thrusters. He did a good job, but felt the safety of the boat and passengers came first."
Once onboard, guests were given a letter of explanation -- and a $25 per-person shipboard credit.