(1:30 p.m. E.D.T.) In the first major changes in ships' schedules due to Hurricane Gustav, Carnival says that Galveston-based Carnival Ecstasy and Mobile-based Carnival Fantasy, will not return to respective home ports on schedule. Carnival Ecstasy, now on a five night cruise that was to end Monday, September 1, will now return to Galveston on Wednesday, September 3. The ship will stay at sea for those two days.
This pushes back the planned September 1 departure for new passengers; that sailing, originally a five night cruise, will now depart on Wednesday, September 3 as a three night voyage. It will return to Galveston on Saturday, September 6.
Passengers booked on the abbreviated cruise will receive a 50 percent refund and future 50 percent discount on a three- to five-day Carnival cruise. They also can opt to cancel without penalty for a full refund.
As reported earlier today, Mobile-based Carnival Fantasy, which should end its cruise on Monday, September 1, will now stay at sea and return on Wednesday, September 3. That means passengers currently on the ship's five night voyage will get an extra two days onboard.
As a result, however, those travelers who planned to depart tomorrow for Carnival Fantasy's five night trip, with calls at Progreso and Cozumel and two sea days, will leave on Wednesday instead. The cruise will be shortened by one day -- Progreso is canceled -- and will return to Mobile on Sunday, September 7. It originally was slated to end on Saturday, September 6.
At that point the ship will finish cruising for a few weeks as it goes into dry-dock for a major refurbishment.
Passengers booked on the abbreviated Carnival Fantasy cruise will receive a 25 percent refund of their cruise fare and a 25 percent discount on a future three- to five-day Carnival cruise. Carnival's statement also notes that passengers can cancel and receive a full refund -- but must do so quickly.
Carnival Conquest returned to Galveston this morning as planned and it's assumed that the ship will depart today on its next cruise, also as planned.
As we've noted previously, it's expected that Gustav is headed very close to New Orleans, which currently isn't home porting any ships. However the storm's wingspan could stretch across the Gulf Coast and it's possible that other departures for the week ahead will be impacted. Please check back frequently.
--by Carolyn Spencer Brown, Editor in Chief
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Gustav Delays Return of Ecstasy, Fantasy
August 31, 2008