August 30, 2017
(10:45 a.m. EDT) -- Continued rain and flooding from Tropical Storm Harvey (formerly a Category 4 hurricane) has closed the Galveston cruise port and Houston airports, forced Royal Caribbean to divert Liberty of the Seas to Miami, and caused Carnival to cancel several cruises.
The Port of Galveston said Monday that it would remain closed for the next 48 hours. That has forced the ships that were originally scheduled to dock to make alternative plans and find different ports for stranded passengers.
Carnival rerouted all three of its ships that were currently scheduled for Galveston -- Carnival Breeze, Carnival Valor and Carnival Freedom -- to New Orleans, where passengers were allowed to disembark and make independent arrangements to travel home. Passengers also have the option to stay onboard for the return to Galveston; about half of the passengers on Carnival Freedom decided to remain on board and slightly more than half for the other two ships. Carnival Valor and Carnival Freedom will depart New Orleans on Wednesday afternoon and sail toward Galveston, with Carnival Breeze to follow on Thursday.
All sailings this week for Carnival Valor, Carnival Freedom and Carnival Breeze have been canceled, including Valor's Aug 31 departure. A full refund will be provided to passengers who were scheduled to be on the cruises, as well as a 25 percent future cruise credit if booked within the next 60 days. Assuming that the port of Galveston opens on Friday, cruises will resume on Saturday. See below for more details.
Carnival Corporation announced Wednesday that it, along with the Micky and Madeline Arison Family Foundation, have pledged a minimum of $2 million to relief and rebuilding efforts in the Gulf Coast area. Cruise passengers sailing on some Carnival cruises will also have the option to make a donation when they check in; other brands within the corporation will also be participating. Carnival Cruise Line President Christine Duffy visited New Orleans Tuesday to talk with passengers on Carnival Breeze and Carnival Freedom and will be doing the same on Wednesday on Carnival Valor.
Royal Caribbean had originally planned to debark passengers on Liberty of the Seas late on Sunday and embark new cruisers on Monday. But the port remained closed, and Royal Caribbean had no choice but to find an alternative. (In addition to the port closure, George Bush Intercontinental Airport and Houston Hobby Airport remain closed, and it's uncertain when they will reopen. Highway I-45 has been shut down.) Liberty headed to Miami and debarked Tuesday to pick up supplies; its August 27 cruise is canceled. See below for full details and check out our latest Live from Liberty of the Seas report.
As of 7 a.m. CDT, Harvey remains a tropical storm, according to the National Hurricane Center, and is moving from the southeast coast of Texas into Louisiana. Rain from the storm has produced life-threatening flooding in the Houston area, and people are being urged not to travel in affected or flooded areas.
Although it remains closed, the Port of Galveston has been sending regular updates from its social media feeds. Parking refunds are being issued to passengers who have had their itinerary shortened or cruise canceled.
Carnival Valor: The Aug. 26 and Aug. 31 sailings of Carnival Valor were canceled. All passengers will receive a full refund, as well as a 25 percent credit toward a future cruise. If the ship is allowed to disembark in Galveston on Friday, the Sept. 4 sailing will operate as scheduled.
Carnival Freedom: The Aug. 26 sailing of Carnival Freedom was canceled, with passengers receiving the same full refund, plus 25 percent credit toward a future cruise. If the ship is allowed to disembark in Galveston on Friday, the Saturday sailing on Sept. 2 will take place as scheduled.
Carnival Breeze: The Aug. 27 sailing of Carnival Breeze was canceled, with passengers receiving the same full refund, plus 25 percent credit toward a future cruise. Carnival Breeze is expected to arrive in Galveston on Saturday evening, with embarkation for the Sept. 3 sailing taking place on Sunday.
Liberty of the Seas: Liberty of the Seas headed to Miami where it will debarked passengers on Tuesday. Passengers were given free transfers to Miami and Fort Lauderdale airport, about half of the passengers disembarked in Miami and the rest are staying on the ship for the trip back to Galveston. Passengers onboard offered 50 percent off drinks, drink packages, internet and specialty restaurant packages, as well as laundry discounts.
The August 27 departure of Liberty is canceled. Booked passengers will have their fares fully refunded and will receive a future cruise credit. Liberty of the Seas plans to return to Galveston on Friday, if conditions permit.
Cruise Critic is in contact with all the cruise lines and will continue to update this story as more information becomes available.
Follow our Hurricane Zone for tips on cruising during hurricane season, an inside look at the 2017 Atlantic season outlook and more.
--By Erica Silverstein and Chris Gray Faust, Senior Editors
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