Planning a cruise from Central Florida in the next few days? Prepare for delays and disruptions.
Departures from the cruise ports of Tampa, Port Canaveral and Jacksonville scheduled to depart in the next few days are currently in flux due to the rapidly approaching and strengthening Hurricane Ian.
As of Tuesday morning, Port Tampa Bay — the Tampa-area port — had already been closed to all marine traffic, including cruise ships, with anticipation that high winds (34-47 knots) from the hurricane Ian would arrive soon. The ports of Port Canaveral and Jacksonville are scheduled to close to ship traffic Wednesday night for the same reason.
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
A dozen cruise liners, including some of the largest in the world, are based at the three ports and have scheduled departures between Tuesday and Sunday.
For more cruise news, guides and tips, sign up for TPG’s cruise newsletter
Among the ships likely to be most affected is Carnival Cruise Line‘s Carnival Paradise, which has 2,052 passengers. The ship is scheduled to depart Tampa on Thursday for a four-night voyage to Cozumel, Mexico.
Carnival told passengers scheduled to sail on the ship on Monday evening not to proceed to the cruise port on Thursday unless they received confirmation from the line that departure was still in progress – which increasingly seems unlikely.
Carnival Paradise Tuesday was in Cozumel and is expected to return to Tampa early Thursday, at the same time Hurricane Ian is expected to hit the Tampa area and the west coast of Florida with strong hurricane-force winds.
“At this point, Carnival Paradise’s return to Tampa may be delayed due to the storm,” Carnival said in a notice sent to passengers Thursday. “The safety and security of our guests and crew is our first priority, and changes to your cruise may be required.”
Related: Cruising During Hurricane Season? Better read this first
A Carnival spokesperson told TPG on Tuesday that the company had no further updates on the Carnival Paradise schedule.
A Port Canaveral shutdown in the coming days could have an even greater impact on cruisers. Port Canaveral is the second largest cruise port in the world, currently home to 10 cruise ships operated by major cruise operators such as Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Norwegian Cruise Line and Disney Cruise Line.
In a video update released Tuesday, Royal Caribbean’s chief meteorologist James Van Fleet warned that Port Canaveral could close on Wednesday as Ian approaches central Florida.
“You will hear [Royal Caribbean] if any adjustments are made, those are just my thoughts, and nothing is official yet, but what I anticipate is that we could see Port Canaveral close starting Wednesday, continuing through Thursday , and [the port reopening] Friday,” Van Fleet said in the second of two Twitter videos offering his perspective on the storm and its effects on cruisers.
Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Seas, which carries 3,344 passengers and is based in Port Canaveral, is due to return to port early Thursday to disembark passengers from its current five-night Eastern Caribbean voyage. He is scheduled to depart Port Canaveral later the same day for another four-night trip to the Bahamas.
“There is a chance [that the return of] Mariner gets fired one day,” Van Fleet said in the video. “You will hear from the company if the decision is made, and the port is closed, and we have to fire it.”
A Port Canaveral port closure on Thursday would also affect Thursday departures of MSC Cruises’ MSC Divina and Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Getaway. Neither line had announced a postponement of departures from Tuesday.
Van Fleet said it expected the Port of Canaveral to reopen by Friday, in time for the 4,370-passenger Independence of the Seas line based in Port Canaveral to return to port that day as planned . The ship is due to depart Port Canaveral Friday evening for a three-night trip to the Bahamas.
In addition to Independence of the Seas, Disney Cruise Line’s Disney Wish and Carnival’s Carnival Liberty are scheduled to depart Friday from Port Canaveral.
Van Fleet said the departure of the 5,479-passenger Harmony of the Seas from Port Canaveral on Sunday is also expected to continue uninterrupted.
A Royal Caribbean spokesperson told TPG that the company has no further updates on the line’s ships leaving Port Canaveral.
On Tuesday, the US Coast Guard established Port Condition X-Ray for Port Canaveral. This means high winds are expected within 48 hours. Vessels are allowed to return to and leave ports under Port Condition X-Ray.
Carnival Elation, which has 2,052 passengers and is based in Jacksonville, will also face disruptions in the coming days. The ship is due to return to the city on Thursday morning to disembark passengers from its current navigation. He is due to leave town later in the day for a four-night cruise to the Bahamas.
On Tuesday, the Coast Guard also completed a port condition x-ray for the Port of Jacksonville.
Nearly a dozen cruise ships operating in the Caribbean and Bahamas have already changed course in recent days to avoid Ian as he headed for Florida.
Related: Find out which cruise ships were affected by Ian
The disruptions come as one of the region’s busiest cruise ports that often serves as an alternate stop for hurricane-avoiding cruise ships, Grand Turk, remains closed for now due to storm damage. Fiona.
As of 11 a.m. EDT Tuesday, Ian was about 305 miles south-southwest of Sarasota, Fla., and moving north at 10 miles per hour. The hurricane had maximum sustained winds of 115 miles per hour.
The storm is expected to strengthen significantly over the next 12 hours as it moves towards the west central Florida coast. Current projections call it a very powerful Category 4 hurricane with sustained winds of 130 miles per hour as it approaches the Florida coast late Wednesday through early Thursday. .
Planning a cruise? Start with these stories: