Hurricane Dorian Disrupts Cruise Itineraries and Port Operations

Six cruise ships returned to Port Canaveral when it reopened Thursday (Port Canaveral)

By The Maritime Executive 09-05-2019 09:59:17

Cruise ports across Florida and the southeastern U.S. have been affected by Hurricane Dorian, which continues to churn towards the Carolinas as a Category 2 storm. In addition to serious impacts in the Bahamas, the storm has also had significant effects on cruise itineraries, including heavy weather diversions, delays and cancellations. 

The biggest cruise ports of southern Florida - PortMiami and Port Everglades - both reopened on Tuesday for marine operations. Port Canaveral reopened on Wednesday afternoon, allowing multiple cruise ships to return to their berths and offload passengers. Jacksonville's seaport, Jaxport, reopened with no restrictions on Thursday afternoon. 

U.S. Coast Guard Port Condition Zulu is in effect for the ports of Savannah and Brunswick, Georgia and Charleston, South Carolina. The designation means that port facilities are effectively closed for marine traffic and cargo operations. 

Due to the storm and the port closures, cruise lines made extensive alterations to their sailings. The Norwegian Breakaway diverted to New Orleans rather than her home port of Miami, and NCL has canceled two cruises out of Florida. 

Carnival has canceled one cruise and has altered the routes for several others. The Carnival Ecstasy, which normally berths at Jaxport, diverted to Port Canaveral.

Six Royal Caribbean vessels based in South Florida delayed their returns to port due to the storm, including a four-day delay for Harmony of the Seas. The Harmony returned to Port Canaveral Thursday, and she immediately headed out once more, bound for Nassau. Despite the devastating hurricane damage elsewhere in the Bahamas, Nassau remains open and is still receiving cruise ships. 

Storm heads for Carolinas

As Hurricane Dorian makes its way northeast along the Eastern seaboard, strong winds and heavy rain have raked the Carolinas. About 270,000 residents are without power in the region, primarily in South Carolina. 

A hurricane warning is in effect for coastal areas of the Carolinas and a tropical storm warning is in effect for the southern Chesapeake Bay. A storm surge warning has been issued for Hampton Roads, the U.S. Navy's largest base, as well as the North Carolina coastline and the southern Virginia coastline. The storm is presently off Cape Fear, and it is expected to weaken as it heads offshore towards Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. 

The U.S. Navy issued an emergency evacuation order Wednesday for all personnel and dependents in five North Carolina counties in advance of the hurricane. The order covers all or part of Hyde County, Dare County, Carteret County, Currituck County and New Hanover County.“The safety of our personnel and their families is our top priority,” said Rear Adm. Charles Rock, commander of Navy Region Mid-Atlantic. 

The Navy has already issued a sortie order for vessels at Hampton Roads, and warships capable of sailing have departed port in advance of the storm.