Baltimore Port has announced a tentative reopening date for the main channel leading to the port following the bridge collapse on March 26, 2024.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is working hard to ensure maritime traffic can start coming in and out of the port again. However, while this is good news in general, it remains unclear whether cruise ships will be allowed to resume their scheduled sailings.

The Port of Baltimore has been facing significant operational challenges since the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge on March 26, 2024, following a collision with the container ship Dali. The incident caused the suspension of all maritime traffic, directly impacting cruise operations.

Port of Baltimore provided an update on April 5, 2024, that the efforts of The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to reopen the port to maritime traffic are paying off. 

A temporary navigational channel, 280 feet wide and 35 feet deep, is anticipated to be operational by the end of April 2024. The full reopening of the permanent channel, which spans 700 feet in width and 50 feet in depth, is expected by the end of May 2024. Currently, the port remains closed to all ships.

The opening of the temporary channel in April and the main channel in May would be a significant achievement by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Initial estimates were that the channel could remain closed for several months. An earlier opening would somewhat mitigate the already devastating effect of the suspension of operations.

The Port thanked everyone involved in the salvage operations, and the efforts from all involved to return to operations as soon as possible:

Baltimore Port: “We appreciate everyone’s patience as we continue to work through this unimaginable situation. We thank all of our incredible federal, state, and local partners who are working around the clock to make this happen.”

“We remind everyone to keep their thoughts on the families that have suffered unreplaceable losses. Thank you to all of our valued business partners for your continued support of the Port of Baltimore during this incredibly difficult time.”

The Port of Baltimore is an important maritime gateway, contributing significantly to the local and regional economy. The suspension of maritime traffic poses challenges to cruise itineraries and the broader economy. 

The bridge collapse and channel closure have forced Royal Caribbean and Carnival Cruise Line to take immediate action. Ships originally scheduled to sail from Baltimore, such as Vision of the Seas and Carnival Legend, have been rerouted to Norfolk, Virginia. 

Despite announcing a phased reopening of the port, the timeline for the resumption of cruise ship operations from Baltimore is still being determined.

Vision of the Seas in Baltimore (Photo Credit: Cruise Maryland)

April and May 2024 sailings, in particular those onboard Carnival Pride and Vision of the Seas, will likely sail from Norfolk, although Carnival Cruise Line remains hopeful that Carnival Pride is able to sail to Baltimore for its arrival to Maryland on Sunday, April 21. However, the cruise line is closely monitoring the situation and awaiting further updates from port authorities and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. 

Should the cruise lines receive permission to sail from Baltimore, the question remains whether they will be allowed to do this on short notice, and if it is feasible.

Many guests have already been preparing to sail from Norfolk instead of Baltimore. Changing this once again would only lead to further disruptions. The eight June 2024 sailings for Carnival Pride and Vision of the Seas from Baltimore are likely to go ahead if the main channel is indeed open. 

Cruise lines are yet to react to the latest information from the Port of Baltimore.

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