Sky Princess‘ captain has announced that the major storm hitting the Bahamas and South Florida this weekend has forced him to reroute the ship’s Caribbean route, skipping a popular port of call.

With passenger safety cited as a priority, Princess Cruises’ Captain Marco Fotezze informed passengers aboard the Sky Princess 7-night Eastern Caribbean cruise of a necessary course alteration due to high winds and rough seas.

In his December 16 letter to passengers arriving for departure, he detailed the ship’s diversion from its scheduled passage from Fort Lauderdale to the Bahamas, forgoing the December 17 visit to the cruise line’s private island, Princess Cays.

The decision, aimed at avoiding the operation of water shuttles in unsafe conditions, redirects the vessel along the Old Bahama Channel towards San Juan, Puerto Rico. 

Captain Fortezze assured passengers, “While we may still experience some rough seas, this should enable us to avoid the worst of the weather while providing you with the most comfortable cruise.”

He went on to add, “We realize the cancellation of a port of call, regardless of the reason, is disappointing. When we create itineraries, we look forward to taking our guests to the destinations they expect to visit. When unexpected issues occur and we must make the decision to change our itinerary, we share in your disappointment.”

Read Also: Severe Weather Impacting Multiple Cruise Ships

The new route extends time at sea, with an on-time arrival in San Juan anticipated for December 19. Acknowledging the inconvenience, Princess Cruises has assured guests with excursions booked for Princess Cays that their accounts will be automatically credited, negating the need for guests to handle refunds through onboard services.

The Sky Princess, able to host 4,610 guests, embarked from Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale on December 16 on an ambitious itinerary blending a 7-night Eastern Caribbean voyage with a 14-night Caribbean East/West Adventurer.

The extensive voyage was crafted to showcase the region’s most enchanting destinations, initially beginning with a leisurely day at Princess Cays on December 17.

Sky Princess in Southampton, UK (Photo Credit: Marcin Kanka / Shutterstock)

The itinerary also features visits to the historic streets of San Juan, Puerto Rico; the pristine beaches of Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos; and the vibrant cultural tapestry of Puerto Plata/Amber Cove, Dominican Republic, before culminating its first leg in Fort Lauderdale.

The cruise is set to continue as the Sky Princess is poised to navigate toward the treasures of the Western Caribbean.

Read Also: When is the Best Time to Cruise the Caribbean?

Again departing from Port Everglades on December 23, the ship will chart a course for the lush landscape of Roatan, Honduras; the rich histories and colorful coral reefs of Belize City, Belize; and the bustling markets and Mayan mysteries of Cozumel, Mexico, ending in Fort Lauderdale on December 30. This second leg is also scheduled to visit Princess Cays.

The powerful weekend storm impacting the Bahamas and South Florida has led to significant itinerary adjustments for multiple cruise lines.

Generating rough seas and strong winds, cruise lines are met with challenging ship docking and tender operations, forcing diversions and port cancellations.

Severe Weather Impacting Cruise Ships (Photo Credit: Dee Browning)

Carnival Freedom, for example, was forced to cancel all ports of call during a 4-night Bahamas sailing, and MSC Meraviglia changed its course from New York to the Bahamas to New England and Canada.

In such conditions, cruise ships face risks at sea and in port. High winds and waves may render harbor entries impassable and tender operations unsafe. Critical to these decisions is the necessity of a ship to dock without undue motion that could destabilize gangways or compromise mooring integrity.

Storm surges can make disembarking dangerous, and the potential for excursion cancellations due to local weather hazards like flooding may diminish the onshore experience. In these scenarios, cruise lines suggest guests remain aboard for safety and a more pleasurable experience. 

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