Update, 8:30 p.m. EST: Carnival Pride departed from Baltimore at 5:30 p.m. EST as scheduled, with more than 2,200 passengers onboard and 60 no-shows. Carnival spokeswoman Jennifer de la Cruz tells us via e-mail that embarkation started around noon: "The operation today would not have been possible without some really extraordinary efforts by the Maryland Port Administration and our folks there on the ground in Baltimore." Port execs were reportedly on hand helping disembarking guests dig out their cars.
(9:15 a.m. EST) -- Carnival Pride arrived in Baltimore this morning as scheduled to disembark passengers -- who'll have to dig their cars out of massive snow piles after this weekend's blizzard. Maryland's Elkridge, just south of Baltimore, recorded the region's most snowfall, according to Bloomberg.com -- some 38.3 inches. As we reported yesterday, port workers have been on the clock since before the snow stopped to clear parking lots, walkways and piers.
During the region's last big storm, in December 2009, Carnival delayed departure by a few hours to allow guests more time to arrive at the port. The cruise line has not yet announced whether it will do the same today.
At this point, sailaway is still scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Stay tuned.
Meanwhile, there's another possible scenario: travelers located in the snow zone may not be able to get to even those cruises departing from sunny locales. Member erikalea posted last night on the Carnival forum, "Our U.S. Air noon flight from Philly [Sunday] was cancelled this evening, but luckily we were keeping tabs and got booked on the 6:00 flight. Now I just hope that one makes it out ... gotta be on the Imagination [in Miami] Monday."
In most cases, passengers who miss a sailing due to poor weather can fly to the next port to the meet the ship, but must do so at their own expense. The takeaway here is to leave yourself plenty of lead time (kudos to erikalea for planning to fly in one day early) and to consider travel insurance -- particularly when there's a higher risk of inclement weather affecting your arrival. Of course, no amount of insurance is going to stop a nor'easter, but you'll have the peace of mind of knowing your investment is protected.
For more information on purchasing travel insurance, check out Travel Insurance -- Pros and Cons.
--by Melissa Paloti, Managing Editor
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Blizzard Update: Business as Usual in Baltimore for Carnival Cruise Ship
February 7, 2010