Cruise lines have resumed operations at three Florida ports that had closed as Hurricane Ian approached. Port Tampa Bay, JAXPort of Jacksonville and Port Canaveral all reopened to cruise ships on Saturday after being closed earlier in the week.
Port Tampa Bay closed to shipping traffic, including cruise ships, at 8 a.m. Tuesday as Hurricane Ian battered the west coast of Florida, and Port Canaveral closed to shipping traffic at 12 p.m. Wednesday. JAXPort closed at 12 p.m. Wednesday.
The closures have forced five cruise lines to cancel trips from the three ports that were due to take place on Thursday and Friday.
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
For more cruise news, guides and tips, sign up for TPG’s cruise newsletter
With the reopening, half a dozen cruise ships that have been stranded at sea for the past two days, including Tampa-based Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Paradise and Port Canaveral-based Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Seas may return to their original bases. Saturday to allow passengers to disembark. Paradise was due in Tampa on Thursday and Mariner of the Seas was also due in Port Canaveral on Thursday.
The three closed ports were the cruise ports closest to the path of Hurricane Ian, which swept west to east across Florida on Wednesday and Thursday. None of the three ports was directly in the path of Hurricane Ian, which caused devastating destruction and loss of life in parts of southwest Florida.
Related: Don’t Sail During Hurricane Season Without Reading This First
The storm made landfall on Wednesday more than 100 miles south of Port Tampa Bay, which was the closest cruise port to where the storm landed with winds around 150 mph. The storm weakened significantly as it moved across the state to near Port Canaveral and JAXPort.
In a statement, Port Canaveral said the port’s Rodney Ketcham Park and Jetty Park boat ramps will be closed until further notice due to storm damage, but roads around the port are open. and cruise ships were allowed to resume operations from Saturday.
In a tweet, the port said passengers on cruises scheduled to depart this weekend should check directly with cruise lines for the latest schedules.
In a statement posted Friday evening on its website, Port Tampa Bay reported no damage to port facilities. “Port PUSH teams have fully assessed docks, docks and terminals,” the statement said. “Commercial vessel traffic is again being queued for a return to full operations in port, which means we are open for business.”
In a status report tweeted Saturday, JAXPort mentioned no damage to the port and said it was fully open.
In a statement to TPG, Carnival said three of its ships that were delayed returning to the three ports this week — Carnival Paradise, Carnival Liberty and Carnival Elation — would all return to reopened ports on Saturday.
At the same time, Carnival said three Carnival ships were to return to ports in Baltimore; Norfolk, Virginia; and Charleston, South Carolina, on Saturday morning to disembark passengers would arrive late due to Hurricane Ian’s movement along the coast.
Carnival said Baltimore-based Carnival Legend and Norfolk-based Carnival Magic would still arrive at their homeports on Saturday, but later than expected. This will delay subsequent ship departures, the line said.
Carnival said Charleston-based Carnival Sunshine will return to the city once its port reopens, which is expected to happen on Sunday. The ship’s next voyage, which was originally scheduled to depart on Saturday, is now delayed. Carnival said the ship will likely depart on its next voyage on Sunday instead of Saturday. The journey will thus be shortened by one day.
Carnival said passengers on the delayed crossing will receive a one-day prorated refund of the cruise fare and a $50 onboard credit. Passengers on the sail can also cancel their trip for a full refund.
In addition to the Mariner of the Seas, another Royal Caribbean ship that has been stranded at sea because of Ian in recent days – the Port Canaveral-based Independence of the Seas – would return to its homeport on Saturday.
Disney Cruise Line said one of its ships scheduled to return to Port Canaveral on Friday, Disney Wish, will now return to port on Sunday.
The reopening of cruise ports comes as airports near ports are also reopening. On Friday, American Airlines resumed operations in Tampa and Orlando (which serves as an airport for Port Canaveral). The carrier resumed operations from Jacksonville on Saturday.
Planning a cruise? Start with these stories: