Storms Disrupt Southampton Departures

November 8, 2010
storm-disrupts-cruise-ship-depatures-southampton (12:01 p.m. EST) -- Cruise ship departures from Southampton are being affected today as severe storms batter the U.K.

According to a statement from P&O Cruises, the line has delayed the departure of its 45,000-ton, 1,200-passenger Artemis by nearly 24 hours of “very heavy seas and storm force winds in the Bay of Biscay and North Atlantic.”

Artemis was due to depart yesterday on an 11-night cruise to Madeira and the Canary islands. The ship is now leaving today and the itinerary has been juggled so that Artemis will call at Vigo on November 11 instead of November 16, and Lisbon on November 12 instead of November 15.

Cunard's Queen Mary 2 and the new Queen Elizabeth are also in Southampton today and will sail as scheduled, but with revised itineraries. A statement from Cunard said: "Progress is expected to be slower than usual through the Bay of Biscay. Consequently, Queen Elizabeth's first port-of-call, Malaga, scheduled for November 11, is to be omitted and the ship will go straight to the scheduled second port, Malta, where she will arrive as planned on November 13."

Royal Caribbean's Independence of the Seas arrived slightly later than planned in Southampton and is scheduled to leave about half an hour later than scheduled, at about 5:30 p.m. Embarkation was unaffected by the delayed arrival.

Kari Reinikainen of the Web site Cruise Business Review, who is in Southampton waiting to board Queen Mary 2, reports chaotic scenes at the Ocean Terminal, currently occupied by Artemis -- and not Queen Mary 2 as intended. Hundreds of passengers are being bused from the Ocean Terminal to the QE2 Terminal to join Queen Mary 2.

According to the BBC Web site, severe weather warnings are in place in Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and western counties of England, with winds of up to 70 mph and worse expected as the week goes on. Keep checking back here and we'll keep you updated on any further itinerary changes.

-- By Sue Bryant, Cruise Critic Contributing Editor