World's Largest Cruise Ports Close for Hurricane
As Hurricane Matthew approaches the east coast of Florida, the largest cruise ports in the world have had to cease operations in anticipation of high winds and storm surge.
PortMiami, Port Everglades, Port Canaveral, Jaxport (the port of Jacksonville), Port of Charleston and Port of Palm Beach have closed following Coast Guard Captain of the Port restrictions on commercial traffic.
Vessels not already within these ports will have to weather the storm at sea or find safe harbor elsewhere.
Port Canaveral CEO John Murray issued an evacuation order for all landside operations on Tuesday. All port tenants were to depart by noon Wednesday.
“This is a serious storm and the protection of people and property is our primary concern,” said Port Canaveral CEO John Murray. “We expect high winds and storm surge throughout the port and have urged the Port community to prepare their facilities so business can resume as quickly as possible after the storm.”
It is the port's first full shutdown due to weather in 12 years.
To the south, PortMiami has closed off all shoreside access as of Thursday morning. The gates to the tunnel leading to its cruise terminal are shut, and the port has blocked off its bridge as well. All the other ports within the Coast Guard's Miami Captain of the Port zone – Port Everglades, Port of Palm Beach and Port of Ft. Pierce – are also closed by order. No operations of any kind are permitted without Coast Guard authorization, and vessels remaining at berth must take added precautions, including deploying maximum number of mooring lines possible and readying their outboard anchors.
Affected cruise departures include the 10/6 sailing of the Carnival Victory out of Port Canaveral; the Carnival Sensation and Fantasy, out of Miami; Carnival Ecstasy, out of Charleston; and Carnival Elation, out of Jacksonville. Carnival is refunding fares for any canceled cruises.
The major lines have rerouted vessels at sea towards safe water. About a dozen ships are scheduled to return to Florida ports when they reopen Friday or Saturday.