A couple of months ago I posted a concern my mom had. I had booked a cruise leaving out of San Juan for a 7 day southern Caribbean cruise. She just about hit the roof when she found out I had booked a cruise during hurricane season. She was very concerned and it was an uphill battle for me trying to convince her that everything was going to be fine...weeeeelllll.
Sunday, August 21 came and I was as a happy as a bumble bee. My stepfather and our driver were very concerned and fought with me to call the cruise line to find out if they had cancelled the cruise because of Irene. I tried telling them that the cruise would not cancel, but they thought I was hard-headed.
We arrived at the pier and Carnival Victory was docked magestically in port. What a sight to behold! Although hurricane Irene was looming in the horizon, the atmosphere was very bright and people seemed unconcerned about the bad weather.
While we were waiting in line to check in, employees were distributing a letter to all the passengers where it stated that due to hurricane Irene, there was a possibility of us not being able to leave port that evening, but that we were going to be given updates as they became available. I was fine with that. When we reached the counter, the young lady told us that Carnival was leaving port early. I told her that wasn't possible because we had all received a letter saying that there was a possibility of us not leaving at all. She told us that they had been informed that the ship would be leaving at 6 p.m.
6 p.m? I couldn't believe it being that passengers had until 8:30 p.m. to board and we were scheduled to depart at 10 p.m. She told me that there had been tons of flight cancellations and they were going with the last flight arriving, which I believe was 6 p.m. We were on the ship by 1:30 and went straight for the buffet line being that our rooms weren't ready yet.
Around 2:30 p.m. we were able to go to our cabins. After oohing and aahing for a couple of minutes, we left our luggage in our room and went up on deck. My daughter was dying to go to El Morro which was a hop, skip and a jump from the pier, but I was a bit tired and kept putting it off for later. Around 5:30 p.m. there was an announcement that the gangway was closing and no one would be allowed to leave the ship and if we had any loved ones outside to please try to contact them because the port authorities had closed the port and we would have to leave port at 6 p.m.
Sure enough, Royal Caribbean's Serenade of the Seas left at 6 p.m. and we left a short while later leaving people behind. I'm pretty sure it was a mess for those who were stranded in the east coast trying to fly to Puerto Rico. We left around 3 hours before schedule. It was raining pretty hard and the sea was rough. The sail away deck party that was scheduled for that evening was cancelled and I, for one, called it an early night. No matter how hard I tried to walk straight, I couldn't and kept bouncing from one wall to the next. I was already getting sick to my stomach, but was in awe of the rough waters as I looked out my window.
Instead of going to St. Thomas, which was our first port of call, we had 2 sea days and arrived in Barbados on Wednesday. After the first evening, everything was smooth sailing, with beautiful skies, calm seas and paradise at our fingertips. We skipped St. Maarten, got on board credit and the money I paid for a tour on the island was refunded...sweet. We stopped in St. Thomas on Saturday, the last full day of our cruise
Many of the passengers who missed the ship in San Juan actually flew into Barbados. I met one of the passengers who had missed the ship because his flight from New York had been cancelled. He flew into Barbados with his family. He told me that 500 passengers missed the ship in San Juan.
I was truly enjoying myself until I started watching CNN and heard about the earthquake in the east coast, and then the imminent arrival of hurricane Irene. The way the news kept us informed seemed more like doomsday to me. I was besides myself when I heard that Atlantic City had to evacuate. I was extremely concerned about my house and had pictures of uprooted trees going through the roof and windows blown away to smithereens. I was so worried sick I didn't go to the last show, which my mom and daughter told me was fantastic. I went to bed extra early with unpretty pictures of New Jersey being torn apart by the monstrous hurricane...oh brother!
MY MOTHER WAS RIGHT!!!! But, we had a wonderful trip, and I think what made it awesome was the fabulous cruise director and his crew.
Doesn't it figure huh? Last week was a meterorlogical mess..I felt my bed move,and the I had no lights for 5 days...BUT, I would still sail in hurricane season.
There is a thread here, about how Carinival stepped up to the plate, to take care of their customers, while RCI, said..sea ya! All in all, you made the best of the cruise as did Carnival...tell Mom....touche Yay for you both!
Trip, with her book & tea!
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Carnival did right by their passengers by putting them up in a hotel and then flying them to Barbados. Royal Caribbean really lost some PR credibility and probably a number of repeat passengers because of their frugality.
BTW: The ships were "ordered" out of port by the harbor master. That is why you received the letter saying you may stay in San Juan overnight and then when you checked in they told you about the 6:00 p.m. departure. The order came in after they printed and were distributing the letters but the check-in people were informed of it as soon as the ship knew. The ships had no choice in leaving port at 6.
I'm glad you had a good cruise despite the changes. Basically things happened as people said they would. The itinerary was changed because of the hurricane but the cruise still went out. About the only time they cancel a cruise is if the hurricane hits the port on the day of sailing or people can't get to the port because of the hurricane.
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"There is a great difference between being well traveled and just having been to many places." ~Me
While in St. Thomas, we met a father and his two young daughters going up Paradise Point, and we started talking. Serenade of the Seas was docked behind Victory and he had flown in from Colombia to San Juan for his trip on Serenade. He told me that Royal Caribbean sailed to Aruba instead. That was great, although I didn't mind having 2 sea days.
I just read the other posts regarding how Carnival stepped up to the plate and helped its stranded passengers. I couldn't understand why there were so many bags at port in Barbados and passengers lugging their bags on board. They had all been flown to Barbados.
It's a risk we take when we book a cruise during hurricane season, but life is a risk in itself, is it not?