Two Carnival Cruise Line ships at two different US homeports were delayed on Sunday, December 3, 2023 for heavy fog that made it unsafe to navigate to docking. This has impacted the ships’ embarkations for their next sailings, though the inconvenience is relatively minimal.

Carnival Pride in Tampa, Florida and Carnival Spirit in Mobile, Alabama, were both delayed on Sunday morning, December 3, due to heavy fog in their respective regions. Dense fog makes navigation difficult, particularly for tricky channels and docking.

While both ships were scheduled to arrive back at their homeports at approximately 8 a.m., Carnival Spirit actually arrived closer to 11 a.m. Carnival Pride, however, was delayed for much longer and did not dock at the cruise terminal in Tampa until approximately 3 p.m.

Because of the delays for the ships returning from their cruises, embarkation for the next sailings were also impacted. Guests were notified via email and text message in the morning before embarkation was scheduled to begin.

“The Port of Tampa is closed due to fog and the ship’s arrival is delayed. This will impact your embarkation,” the notification to Carnival Pride guests read.

Carnival Pride Cruise Ship (Photo Credit: SeregaSibTravel / Shutterstock)

Similar notifications were sent to guests setting sail on Carnival Spirit from Mobile today. All guests were updated later in the morning about embarkation arrival times as the fog cleared and the ships were able to safely dock.

Carnival Cruise Line also provided a $25 (USD) onboard credit to incoming guests aboard Carnival Pride as compensation for the longer delay and the missed lunch from the late embarkation.

Carnival Pride was returning from a 7-night Western Caribbean itinerary that included Grand Cayman, Roatan, Belize, and Cozumel as ports of call. The ship’s next sailing is a 6-night Western Caribbean cruise that will call on Cozumel, Belize, and Costa Maya. No changes to the ship’s itinerary have been noted.

Carnival Spirit is homeported from Mobile, Alabama and was also returning from an 8-night Western Caribbean cruise, having visited Cozumel, Costa Maya, Belize, and Roatan. The ship’s next voyage is a 6-night Bahamas itinerary, with visits to Bimini and Nassau. As with Carnival Pride, no itinerary change has been reported.

Both vessels are 88,500-gross-ton, Spirit-class ships with a guest capacity of 2,124 travelers at double occupancy.

Thick fog regularly affects cruise ports, particularly those that border the Gulf of Mexico – Tampa, Mobile, New Orleans, and Galveston.

During the winter months – December, January, and February – the warm, humid air over the Gulf interacts with cooler air over land in the coastal areas, creating thick fog in the early morning hours. As the sun rises and heats up the air, the fog “burns off” and dissipates, though this may take several hours depending on overall air temperatures, wind currents, and humidity.

Thick fog impedes visibility and navigation, and port authorities may entirely close the port or may restrict vessels of certain sizes depending on the density of the fog.

Cruise Ship Fog (Photo Copyright: Cruise Hive)

When a ship is delayed, the crew onboard will try to add new activities for guests to enjoy during their extra hours, and meals will always be served. Guests may be asked to vacate their staterooms in the late morning so the rooms can be cleaned and prepared for the next cruise, as the turnover at the terminal will happen more quickly than usual.

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Passengers waiting to embark will have their arrival appointments delayed, and may be offered compensation for the loss of the time onboard, depending on the length of the delay before they can begin their cruise.

In extreme cases – such as when a cruise may not be beginning until very late at night or even delayed a full day, guests may be given a pro-rated refund or significant onboard credit.

Travelers with cruises booked when there is a high risk of fog should always be flexible in their travel plans for embarkation and debarkation. Investigating hotels with late check-out options and booking flights later in the day (or better yet, the next day) can help minimize difficulties if delays occur.

It is also important to stay in close contact with the cruise line and make sure contact information, particularly email addresses and cell phone numbers, are updated so passengers quickly receive alerts, updates, and changes.

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