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Travel industry news

07 Sep 2017

BY Sophie Griffiths


Cruise lines cancel sailings as Hurricane Irma sweeps across Caribbean

Cruise lines have cancelled sailings while ports in Florida have closed, as Hurricane Irma continues to sweep across the Caribbean.


Sailings cancelled as Hurrican Irma wreaks havoc across Caribbean

Carnival Cruise Line said it had cancelled two three-day Bahamas cruises on Carnival Liberty and Carnival Victory, promising that a full refund would be provided to all guests.


In a statement the line added: “We remain in constant contact with port officials regarding potential port closures in South and Central Florida.


“Given the uncertainty of the storm’s impact, we expect that we may have to shorten the duration of certain cruises scheduled to depart this weekend.”


It added that six Carnival ships were currently sailing on “modified itineraries to maintain a safe distance from the storm”, and stressed that passengers sailing on shortened cruises would receive a pro-rated refund of their cruise fare.


Carnival Cruise Line added that it was also “making preparations” for its employees at its headquarters, in advance of the hurricane’s potential landfall in South Florida.


Elsewhere Royal Caribbean International said it was “watching Hurricane Irma closely”, adding that it would “adjust our ships’ itineraries as needed to keep our guests and crew away from the storm. "We’re communicating with guests about any possible changes” it said.


Norwegian Cruise Line said four of its ships were affected. It has shortened a seven-day sailing on Norwegian Escape to five days, and is “strongly encouraging” those who did not drive to PortMiami or are unable to fly home to stay on the ship which will set sail on Thursday evening “on a course away from the storm”.


Other sailings affected include a four-day Cuba voyage on Norwegian Sky which has been shortened to three days, while the following sailing on the ship has been cancelled. A seven-day voyage on Norwegian Escape has also been cancelled.


Meanwhile MSC Cruises announced on Wednesday (September 6) that Divina would head directly to Miami, arriving this morning (Thursday).


This was ahead of the port’s likely closure on Friday, to allow guests who wish to disembark to go home.


As soon as the disembarkation is completed, the ship will sail to Cozumel (Mexico), beyond Irma’s reach, allowing those guests that wish to remain on board to continue their cruise. Divina will then stay there until it is “safe for her to return to Miami”.


Guests who disembark today will receive a refund for the two days shortening of their cruise holiday and, in addition, will also be given a voucher for a 25% discount on the price of a future MSC holiday.


Passengers who continue the cruise will also receive the voucher.


Meanwhile, due to the timing of Irma’s likely arrival to the South Florida coast, MSC said it would be impossible to complete the turnaround operation scheduled for Saturday September 9 and has cancelled Divina’s next cruise, originally scheduled to sail on that day.


Guests scheduled to depart on this cruise will have the option to either be rebooked on another MSC holiday or receive a full refund as well as a 25% discount voucher on the price of a future cruise.


Elsewhere, the Port of Havana is expected to stop operations from Friday onwards, impeding MSC Opera’s turnaround operation scheduled for Saturday.


As such, MSC has extended Opera’s call to Cozumel (Mexico) through Sunday, when the cruise will come to an end.


MSC will arrange transfers from Cozumel to Cancun Airport and back in order to allow our outward-bound guests to start their journey home and help our incoming guests reach the ship before starting their cruise.


MSC is also assisting those guests that need to rebook their flights.


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