Cruises

Hurricane Matthew strands hundreds of Carnival cruisers in New York City

Gov. Scott announces state of emergency, urges residents to prepare for storm

 

Hundreds of cruise passengers bound for the Bahamas have been stuck in a concrete jungle after Carnival Cruise Line abruptly changed one of its ship’s itineraries in the wake of Hurricane Matthew.

On Saturday, just hours before the Carnival Pride was due to set sail from Baltimore to the Bahamas, the cruise line sent passengers an email alerting them that they would be sailing to New York City instead, then onto New Brunswick, Canada. The ship was originally scheduled to visit Grand Turk, Half Moon Cay and Freeport in the Bahamas.

The ship docked in New York Tuesday but after passengers arrived, they were told the sailing to Canada was also cancelled due to bad weather up north. The Pride is currently docked at Pier 88 in Manhattan but, according to WCBS, it won’t be heading back to Baltimore until later this evening. And many passengers, already disappointed about missing out on a beach vacation, are anxious to know why they can’t get home sooner.

“If they’re really concerned about our lives and the danger of the storm, we should be headed back now,” said one furloughed cruiser.

Others are just annoyed they have to shell out extra cash due to the inconvenience of being stuck in a colder location. 

“We all have bathing suits, flip-flops, sundresses,” said passenger Melissa Walker of Lynchburg, Va. “We’re trying to get sweatshirts. I’m walking around New York City in my husband’s shoes with toilet paper stuffed in the toes.”

"I cannot afford to pay $3,500 to ride from Baltimore to New York," Fred Loney told NBC4. He says he’d been planning the trip to the Bahamas with his wife for a year. "That's basically what I've done." 

In a statement to FoxNews.com, Carnival said that "guests had the option of canceling and receiving a full refund. Those who opted to sail on the cruise are receiving a $250-per-person shipboard credit and a 50-percent future cruise discount." The decision was made to stay in New York an extra night to "give those guests who wish to disembark ample opportunity to do so and, for the rest of the guests, to provide an additional day for sightseeing in New York."

But Loney isn’t satisfied. "I want my money back and to be clear of this, and if you cannot provide the service, you need to provide the funds that we paid you back." 

Passengers onboard the Pride reported waiting in customer services lines up to two hours for information on their changing itinerary.

But Pride passengers aren't the only displaced cruisers facing major trip changes. On Monday, several cruise lines announced itinerary alterations as Hurricane Matthew, a Category 4 storm, approached the Caribbean.

The Carnival Pride is scheduled to depart New York City at 5 p.m. Wednesday and head back to Baltimore.

A representaive for Carnival Cruise Line reiterated to FoxNews.com that passenger and crew safety is of the utmost importance: "We sincerely apologize for this disruption to our guests’ vacation plans. Given the unpredictability of tropical weather systems, and with guest and crew safety as our foremost priority, we are taking a prudent course of action to keep the ship out of harm’s way and provide our guests with a safe and enjoyable vacation experience."