(11 p.m. EST) -- Hurricane season may be over, but that doesn't mean weather-related issues are at bay until next summer. Dense fog along the Gulf Coast is causing trouble for two cruise lines and three homeports this week, as ships from both Carnival Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean face unusual delays due to poor visibility.
Royal Caribbean's Voyager of the Seas and Carnival Cruise Lines' Carnival Conquest were unable to set sail yesterday from Galveston on seven-night Western Caribbean cruises because of the fog. Conquest finally left this evening, one day late -- however, Voyager remains marooned until further notice.
Royal Caribbean spokeswoman Cynthia Martinez tells us that the ship will depart when the fog lifts and the onboard pilot feels it is safe to sail. "Each ship is assigned a pilot to navigate the ship out of the port," Martinez says. "The pilot on Carnival's ship decided to take the ship out today. The pilot on Voyager did not feel the conditions were safe at any time today."
A spokesperson for Carnival Cruise Lines was not immediately available for comment.
At this point, Voyager will need to skip its first call, in Roatan, which was scheduled for Wednesday. Cruise Critic member CarolSW, who's currently onboard Voyager of the Seas, posts (and Martinez confirms) that guests were given the option to disembark tonight and receive a future cruise credit equal to 100 percent of the fare paid.
Carnival Fantasy was unable to dock in Mobile today to disembark cruise passengers from a four-night cruise and welcome new guests on a five-night sailing. The ship will now arrive, at the earliest, tomorrow morning.
According to a statement on the cruise line's Web site, those booked on the upcoming cruise (now four nights rather than five) may cancel for a future cruise credit in the amount of the fare paid. Guests who opt to sail will receive a one-day prorated refund of the fare paid, and a $20 per-person onboard credit as a refund of the government fees for the port of Calica, which has been canceled.
At this point, we have not received information from Carnival spokespersons about any other assistance that will be provided, particularly to those who are now spending an extra night onboard and may have missed onward travel arrangements. Stay tuned.
Finally, tampabay.com reports that Carnival Inspiration's arrival into the port of Tampa today was delayed by seven hours; that ship has since set sail, albeit late, on its next cruise. The ship is expected to call on its scheduled ports, according to CruiseCal.com, but will swap the order, visiting Cozumel first (on Wednesday) and Grand Cayman second (on Thursday).
We'll keep you posted.
--by Melissa Paloti, Managing Editor
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In a Fog: Gulf Coast Cruise Ships Delayed, Ports Canceled
December 14, 2009