As Tropical Storm Harvey has stalled over the Texas coastline, creating unprecedented flooding in coastal Texas, the Port of Galveston remains closed. Royal Caribbean International has cancelled Liberty of the Seas' sailing for August 27, and the ship is heading for Miami.
Carnival Cruise Line also cancelled this past weekend's Carnival Valor sailing. Guests on the cancelled cruises will receive full refunds. Carnival is also still planning to possibly operate two shortened voyages from Galveston this week on other ships. Here's the latest.
Liberty of the Seas
In its statement, Royal Caribbean International told guests who were slated to board Liberty of the Seas at Galveston last weekend the following:
"Due to the severe impact of Hurricane Harvey and Galveston port closure, we unfortunately have to cancel your cruise scheduled for Sunday, August 27. We are sorry for the impact that this storm has had on your vacation and appreciate your patience as we worked through this. Please know that this decision was made with your safety in mind.
"Your cruise fare and fees will be 100 percent refunded to the original form of payment. It may take four to five business days to reflect on your account. We are looking forward to welcoming you back, so we are offering a 25 percent future cruise credit, based on your cruise fare, if you choose to book another cruise in the next 30 days. Please stay safe.
Liberty of the Seas is expected to return to Galveston on Friday, providing the port is open at that time."
Separately, Carnival Cruise Line issued this statement as of 5 p.m. on Sunday:
"While Hurricane Harvey was downgraded to a tropical storm yesterday, the storm continues to generate significant rainfall in Galveston and Houston, which has caused severe flooding. The heavy rains are impacting the roads leading in and out of Galveston.
"The port announced it will be closed for at least the next 24 hours, so our earliest potential opportunity to debark current guests is on Tuesday. As you can imagine, this is a fluid situation and we have no way of knowing if the port opening could be delayed further.
"We will continue to maintain close contact with port officials in Galveston monitoring conditions on Galveston Island, and within neighboring areas including Houston, and will provide ongoing updates as we receive additional information."
Carnival's statement discussed Carnival Valor's planned sailing this past weekend: "Unfortunately, as a result of the delay caused by the weather and considering the short duration of this five-day cruise, it will now be necessary to cancel this voyage. A full refund will be automatically processed, including any pre-purchased Carnival Adventures, Fun Shop purchases and beverage packages.
"The refund will be processed to the original form of payment within three weeks. We would love nothing more than to welcome you on a future Carnival cruise where we will apply a 25 percent future cruise credit."
Carnival Freedom and Carnival Breeze
Carnival also said in its statement that it still plans to operate short cruises on two other vessels:
"At present, we intend to operate shortened itineraries on Carnival Freedom and Carnival Breeze once we are able to dock in Galveston, weather and local conditions permitting.
- Carnival Freedom is currently in position to enter the Port of Galveston as soon as the port reopens.
- Carnival Breeze is on its way to New Orleans to make a short technical stop to replenish water and provisions on Monday. She will then resume her course to Galveston.
More information for guests who were scheduled to sail on Carnival Freedom and Carnival Breeze on August 26 and August 27 will be provided as soon as we have a more definitive estimate of the ships’ arrival into Galveston."
The Carnival statement continued:
"Guests who opt to sail on the shortened itineraries will receive a pro-rated refund of their cruise fare as well as an onboard credit posted to their Sail & Sign account. Specific details on the itinerary and onboard credit amount will be determined once our plans for these voyages are finalized.
"Additionally, anyone who purchased our beverage packages will also receive a pro-rated adjustment. These refunds will be processed to the original form of payment within three weeks.
"Pre-purchased Carnival Adventures for cancelled ports, as well as any taxes, fees and port expenses will be refunded to your onboard Sail & Sign account. Gratuities will also be adjusted to reflect the shortened duration.
"Please do not proceed to the cruise terminal until you have received notification from us with additional details.
"We regret the impact the storm has had on your vacation plans. Should you wish to cancel and receive a future cruise credit, please call 1-800-CARNIVAL, contact your Personal Vacation Planner at 1-800-819-3902, or your travel agent. A refund for any pre-purchased Carnival Adventures or Fun Shop purchases will be processed within three weeks to the original form of payment."
The line also urged guests to stay up to date by signing up for text alerts by texting the codes below to CRUISE (278473):
- Carnival Freedom 08/26/17 - CCL1
- Carnival Breeze 08/27/17 - CCL3
"We sincerely apologize to all our Galveston guests for the disruption to your vacation plans and are grateful for your patience and understanding," the line's statement said. "On behalf of Carnival Cruise Line, our thoughts and prayers remain with those in the affected communities."
Carnival provided a bit more detail on that 25 percent future cruise credit as well. It's based on the cruise fare paid for the specific voyage, is non-transferable, cannot be used as a deposit or applied to a chartered sailing, and has no cash value.
The credit must be redeemed by September 27, 2017 on a sailing prior to February 27, 2019. In addition, there is no refund for unused portions of the credit or for any cancellation penalties assessed. After the guests or agent has booked the new cruise, he or she can provide the line with the new booking information to process the credit.
Port of Galveston Parking
Many cruise guests now on ships at sea who parked their personal vehicle at the Port of Galveston's parking lots have been concerned about what they'll find when they return. That said, the port assured many guests over the weekend that the port parking was not flooded at that time.
On its Facebook page late yesterday, the port said: "Port Police has been patrolling the official Port of Galveston parking lots and they have once again confirmed NO FLOODING."
The port also said emails related to parking refunds and condition of the parking lots are being answered and guests with cars in the lots can email questions to: [email protected].
Southern Mississippi Cruises
Potentially, the storm -- if it continues to hover over the Gulf Coast -- could impact both ocean cruises from other Gulf of Mexico ports or lower Mississippi River river cruises. A representative of the Port of New Orleans tells Travel Agent that the port does not anticipate any impacts on port operations at this time, and that the port and its Emergency Preparedness team will continue to monitor the storm’s development in the coming days.
Travel Agent has also reached out to American Queen Steamboat Company and American Cruise Line for feedback on their operations and any potential impact.
Stay tuned to www.travelagentcentral.com for updates as they're received.