While there have been reports of cruise ships sailing through rough weather at sea in recent months, Carnival cruise ship “Ecstasy” is stuck out at sea because of it. On October 2, the cruise ship left the port of Charleston, South Carolina and was scheduled to visit the Bahamas over a 6-day excursion. Scheduled to visit the Bahamas islands of Half Moon Cay, Freeport, and Nassau, the ship changed course and went to Cozumel, Mexico for one day and spent and extra days at sea with Hurricane Matthew interfering with the planned itinerary. In addition to impacting the itinerary, it also forced Carnival Cruises to extend the cruise “indefinitely” due to Port Charleston being closed also because of the Hurricane.
Late Friday night and Saturday, Charleston was rocked by damaging winds, heavy rain, and substantial storm surge flooding. As Hurricane Matthew approached the South Carolina coast, whitecaps raced through Charleston Harbor as a 9′ storm surge pushed inland, the third highest storm surge ever recorded (behind Hurricane Hugo and the “Great Storm of 1940.”)
With the port closed, the Carnival Ecstasy has been stuck at sea, unable to return home. The ship is now currently drifting off the coast of Georgia as guests onboard grow frustrated on if/when they’ll ever return home. The 6-day cruise is now on it’s 8th day; beyond extending the cruise at no cost to passengers, Carnival Cruises is giving guests $50 ship-board credit and a 25% off discount towards a future cruise. Carnival also will refund any Bahamas shore excursions that had been booked in advance and the difference in government fees and taxes.
This morning, South Carolina Ports announced that they’ll be opening all ports in Charleston tomorrow morning. While the port itself will be open, the US Coast Guard will explore the port area this afternoon to determine if it is safe for cruise traffic. If it is, the Carnival Ecstasy may be able to return as soon as tomorrow.
This Carnival Cruise isn’t the only ship impacted by Hurricane Matthew. Disney Cruises, Royal Caribbean, and other Carnival Cruise Line ships had ships re-routed and/or itineraries changed due to Hurricane Matthew.