Update: East Coast Cruise Delays Due to Northeast Snow

December 20, 2009

Update, 9 p.m. EST: A spokeswoman for Royal Caribbean tells us that out of 3,543 expected guests, 3,298 boarded Explorer of the Seas at Cape Liberty; 165 guests will join the ship in San Juan (at their own expense) and 80 guests were no-shows.
At this time, we do not have passenger numbers for Carnival Pride.

(12:45 p.m. EST) -- A major winter storm that dumped over a foot of snow in some communities along the East Coast -- canceling flights and trains and coating roadways -- has moved north of the mid Atlantic and is now traveling through New England. What kind of mess has it left behind for cruise travelers?

Two ships, Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas and Carnival Pride, are departing from mid Atlantic homeports today -- Cape Liberty Cruise Port (in Bayonne, New Jersey) and Baltimore, respectively. In New Jersey, nearby New Brunswick got 11 inches, and the National Weather Service reports that Baltimore was pummeled with a record-breaking snowfall of 21 inches measured at Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

Carnival has delayed Carnival Pride's departure from Baltimore until 8 p.m. to allow guests more time to arrive at the port. The scheduled itinerary will not be impacted.

Richard Scher, Director of Communications for the Maryland Port Administration, tells us via phone that the Baltimore cruise terminal is "open and in full swing." Crews have been working since the snow began to plow and salt lots and access roads. Scher also says Route 95 and the exit ramp for the terminal are clear; the sun is helping keep the roads wet, not icy. Personnel are also on hand today with shovels to help disembarking passengers unearth their cars.

Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for Royal Caribbean tells us that Explorer's departure from Cape Liberty has also been delayed, two hours, to allow guests extra time to arrive at the port. The ship will now depart at 6 p.m. (all passengers should be onboard by 5); the change will not impact the itinerary. A Cape Liberty port spokesperson was not immediately available for additional comment.

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. Yesterday, Norwegian Gem departed from New York as planed, though we don't know if any passengers missed the sailing and, if so, how many; a spokesperson for Norwegian Cruise Line did not respond to our request for information.

And, of course, drive-to guests disembarking today will have to dig their cars out from under the snow.

Celebrity Mercury is scheduled to turnaround in Baltimore tomorrow. We'll keep you posted.

--by Melissa Paloti, Managing Editor

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