Note: Carnival Valor docked Thursday in Mobile as a result of Tropical Storm Barry. In our opinion, Carnival Glory (scheduled to dock in New Orleans on Sunday) is likely to see a schedule change due to the storm. We have a full update on the Carnival Glory here. Further updates will be posted on that article.
Update 7/11/19 @ 8:00 a.m.: As a result of the tropical disturbance in the Gulf of Mexico near New Orleans, Carnival Valor has instead docked today in Mobile, Alabama.
It will sail as planned from Mobile. Passengers arriving in New Orleans will be taken by bus to Mobile to embark. At the end of the cruise, the ship will return to New Orleans.
Carnival released the following statement about the Valor cruise via Facebook:
We continue to work closely with our Fleet Operations Center in Miami to monitor Potential Tropical Cyclone Two, now located in the northeast Gulf of Mexico. Based on the latest forecast, a hurricane watch has been issued for the Louisiana area. Given the expected rise in river water levels and deteriorating port conditions, there is uncertainty about our ability to return to New Orleans tomorrow.
We have made the decision to proceed to the Port of Mobile, from where we will operate tomorrow’s cruise. This will allow us the opportunity to disembark guests on the current voyage, as scheduled, and deliver the cruise vacation you were expecting.
Complimentary bus transportation for all guests will be provided from New Orleans to the cruise terminal in Mobile. Please plan to arrive at the terminal in New Orleans at your pre-selected Arrival Appointment time. If you have purchased transfers from the airport, we will take you directly to Mobile. The final bus will leave from New Orleans at 2:00 PM (CDT). Check-in will take place when you arrive at the Mobile cruise terminal.
Please do not proceed to Mobile directly as the ship will be returning to the New Orleans terminal at the end of the cruise. Also, since parking at the New Orleans terminal may be limited, we suggest you make arrangements to be dropped off. Additionally, please hand-carry your travel documentation and any medications you may need, as luggage delivery may run later than normal.
Our arrival time in Cozumel on Saturday is now scheduled for approximately 9:00 AM and all guests must be back on board by 6:00 PM. Pre-purchased Carnival shore excursions will be adjusted to reflect the new time in port.
We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this change may cause and thank you for your patience and understanding. Our entire team will work to ensure your transfer to New Orleans is a smooth one and your cruise is fun and memorable!
Update 7/10/19 @ 9:30 p.m.: The tropical system likely to become Tropical Storm Barry continues to move westward, projected to make landfall between New Orleans and Galveston sometime this weekend. It also seems likely that the storm will eventually hit hurricane strength before making landfall.
While the wind strength of a Category 1 hurricane may not be that bad, the rains expected could cause havoc.
Already with the storm not even a tropical depression, New Orleans has seen flooding rains.
#BREAKING: Flash flood emergency issued for downtown New Orleans and surrounding suburbs. Between 5-7 inches of rain has fallen in the past 2 hours. This comes as Louisiana prepares for Invest 92L which is forecast to become Tropical Storm Berry. pic.twitter.com/buHIKDyMhv
— UA News (@UrgentAlertNews) July 10, 2019
At this point, the storm seems most likely to impact cruises from New Orleans — specifically the Carnival Valor that is set to dock Thursday morning and head back out on Thursday afternoon.
While Carnival hasn’t made any public announcement regarding the Thursday cruise and if flooding will impact its schedule, we did notice that the Valor has pushed ahead to get closer to port. Despite not docking until tomorrow morning, the ship is already just off the Louisiana coast.
Nevertheless, the entire Louisiana coast is under a hurricane watch and there is worry about flooding around the city.
While the weather in the area may not be that bad just yet, the flooding could make it difficult and dangerous for some people to get to the ship. In our opinion, it could be that the cruise is delayed tomorrow.
As for good news, at this time the Carnival Glory (departing Sunday from New Orleans) should be good to go as the storm is projected to be well out of the area by then. Cruises from Galveston also look to be largely unaffected by the storm unless the track moves westward.
You can check for any itinerary changes from Carnival here.
Update 7/10/19 @ 12:30 p.m.: Since our initial article about 24 hours ago on the tropical disturbance in the Gulf of Mexico, there has been some development in the situation.
At this time, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) has given the storm a 100% chance of developing into a tropical depression in the next 48 hours. Meanwhile, the NHC has even gone so far as to issue an official track of the storm over the next several days:
As you can see, the cone of the track takes it anywhere from New Orleans to Galveston, with the middle of the track aiming for the southwestern Louisiana coast. That puts it right in the middle of the two cruise ports.
More importantly, the forecast shows the storm becoming a hurricane before making landfall Saturday or Sunday. At this point, it looks to be a tropical storm by Thursday evening. Assuming it strengthens to that level, it would be named Tropical Storm Barry. The storm would then strengthen to Hurricane Barry Friday evening into Saturday morning if this forecast holds.
So how will this impact cruises?
Obviously, hurricane force winds are a major issue — not just for travelers setting sail on their cruise this weekend but also those already on the ship and headed back to port. It now appears that ships sailing back to the Port of New Orleans specifically could be in for rough weather. Those sailing to and from Galveston may avoid much of the storm assuming it keeps the current track.
What’s likely to be the bigger issue is flooding. In fact, New Orleans is already seeing some flooding and the potential for considerable rain in the area for this system.
So far the cruise lines have made no public announcements about trips being altered due to the storm.
Royal Caribbean’s meteorologist James Van Fleet has said on Twitter that if the models stay consistent, then their ships sailing from Galveston on Friday and Sunday should be fine.
Update: New forecast discussion on #Invest92L for our @RoyalCaribbean Guests. Seeing some consistency for about 24 hours in Models track of this system. If we do end up with it in Southern Louisiana, Ships should be safe and good to go #Enchantment (Fri) #Liberty (Sun). pic.twitter.com/E3Q1HbAeqo
— James Van Fleet (@JamesVanFleet) July 10, 2019
Carnival, however, has yet to make a comment that we’ve seen. You can see their latest travel alerts on the Carnival website. We will continue to check for any updates.
Specifically, the Carnival Valor, which sails from New Orleans on Thursday (and is headed back to port tonight) is the most likely ship to face issues from Barry. The ship is sailing from Progreso, Mexico to New Orleans, meaning a straight shot through the storm’s current location.
Looking at the current track of the ship, it appears to be well on its way to New Orleans. Onboard webcams show some cloudy and rainy weather, but nothing too bad at this point. Given that, it will likely sail as scheduled in our opinion.
Meanwhile, the Carnival Glory doesn’t return to New Orleans until Sunday morning. By that point, the storm should be well past the area if the current forecast holds.
With June came the start of hurricane season. That means cruise passengers everywhere need to start watching the weather if they plan to sail any time during the summer and into the fall. And while it normally takes some time for the season to start producing storms (peaking in early September), tropical disturbances can occur at any point in the season.
Currently there is a low pressure system that could cause issues with cruises departing New Orleans and/or Galveston during this weekend.
Invest 92L is a spot of low pressure that has drifted south from Georgia over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. As of 1 p.m. central on Tuesday, the National Hurricane Center has given the system a 70% chance of developing into a tropical depression within the next 48 hours and an 80% chance within the next five days.
With the warm waters of the Gulf (where temperatures are close to 90 degrees Fahrenheit), the system could rapidly develop. In fact, the convection over just the past day has been impressive.
The good news is that no model has the potential storm becoming too intense. Most expect the system to turn into a tropical storm, with two showing it could hit the edge of hurricane status over the next few days.
The bad news is that the models are in near agreement that the system will move west, and likely make landfall somewhere between Galveston and New Orleans. Obviously that means it could impact cruises, especially with the storm anticipated to make landfall this weekend.
So far the forecasts call for the potential of heavy rain. The 7-day rainfall forecast even shows the potential for up to 10+ inches of rain in some spots.
In particular the Port of Galveston is prone to flooding. Past storms have caused street flooding, including some intense rainfall flooding some cars in cruise parking lots. Depending on the track and intensity of the storm, that’s a possibility this weekend.
Impact on Cruises
As of now there is no official word on any delays with cruises from Galveston or New Orleans. Royal Caribbean’s meteorologist James Van Fleet has kept updates via his Twitter page, most recently stating that it’s “too early at this time for any adjustments.” It’s doubtful any announcements for any cruise line would be made for at least 48-72 hours.
Update: #Invest92L for @RoyalCaribbean Guests. I still think we’ll be analyzing for another 24-48 hours before our confidence is high enough in exact track and strength. Possible impact on the return for #Liberty, #Enchantment, but it’s too early at this time for any adjustments. pic.twitter.com/bThJrQr8TQ
— James Van Fleet (@JamesVanFleet) July 9, 2019
For now, the best move is to continue to check with your cruise line and continue monitoring for any developments. In the past any changes to the schedule have been at the relatively last-minute. It’s frustrating for passengers, but the cruise lines don’t want to cancel a cruise — and cause a major disruption — if they don’t have to.
The following cruises are slated to sail from Galveston and New Orleans this weekend:
Friday: Enchantment of the Seas
Saturday: Carnival Dream
Sunday: Carnival Freedom;Liberty of the Seas
Thursday: Carnival Valor
Sunday: Carnival Glory
One thing that should be sure: If you are sailing from New Orleans or Galveston this weekend, be ready to get wet.