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Cruise lines cancel voyages as Hurricane Ian steams toward Florida

Cruise operators are canceling trips and rerouting ships as Hurricane Ian approaches Florida, where those in the storm’s path readied on Wednesday for storm surges and potentially deadly winds

Carnival Cruise Line canceled a planned Thursday cruise on its Carnival Paradise ship leaving from Tampa, where the port is currently closed to maritime traffic, along with a sailing the same day from Jacksonville. Passengers will receive a full refund and a 25% credit for future cruises, Miami-based Carnival said in a post on its website. 

Hurricane Ian’s “extremely dangerous” eyewall was moving onshore in southwest Florida late Wednesday morning, just hours after it grew into a Category 4 storm. It was packing sustained winds of 155 mph — making it just shy of a Category 5 hurricane, which is the most powerful storm possible.

Carnival Elation, which departed the now-shuttered Jacksonville port on Saturday, is changing its itinerary around the Bahamas to avoid Hurricane Ian and will stay at sea until Jacksonville’s JaxPort reopens. Carnival Paradise, which left the Port of Tampa Bay on Saturday and was in Cozumel on Wednesday, said it will extend its current trip until the storm has passed and the port in Tampa reopens, possibly on Saturday. 

A planned cruise by the Carnival Liberty leaving from Port Canaveral was also canceled, with the port closed and not expected to reopen until Friday. Carnival cruises that left from Mobile, Alabama; Miami; and New Orleans are rerouting their ports of call.

Disney Cruise Line late Tuesday canceled its Friday sailing of the Disney Wish due to forecasted weather conditions for Port Canaveral and Central Florida. It said customers would be fully reimbursed and offered a 20% discount on future cruises. 

Royal Caribbean postponed Thursday’s Mariner of the Seas departure from Port Canaveral until Friday, but that plan is subject to change. 

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Norwegian Cruise Line rerouted its Norwegian Sky to Puerto Rico and the British Virgin Islands from a planned itinerary that had included Grand Cayman, Honduras, Belize and Mexico. The line also canceled a 10-day Caribbean sailing on Norwegian Getaway that was to depart Thursday from Orlando, it stated on its site.

The high seas and winds also prompted the Big M Casino to cancel all of its cruises Thursday, Friday and Saturday, tweeted the company, which operates gambling vessels from Little River, South Carolina. 

Tampa Bay and St. Petersburg were among the cities bracing for the worst of the storm, but the latest forecasts suggested Ian would make landfall slightly further south, with the Ft. Myers region at risk of a possible direct hit. Given the size and strength of the hurricane and the storm surge it’s expected to drive into coastal areas, officials were clear that much of Florida remained at risk. Life-threatening impacts are expected and power outages are occurring.

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