Carnival Cruise Line has once again reached out to guests booked on the May 5, 2024, departure of Carnival Pride to update them about embarkation plans. While travelers have already been notified that the ship will be embarking and debarking from Norfolk, Virginia rather than Baltimore, Maryland, a local event in Norfolk may cause additional difficulties with reaching the cruise port.

A week ago, Carnival Cruise Line alerted guests that their cruise would be operating from Norfolk, a confirmation that was not surprising given that Baltimore Harbor is not yet fully reopened following the tragic collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge on March 26. While some progress has been made to reinstate marine traffic in Baltimore Harbor, cruise ships cannot yet operate from Baltimore.

Now, passengers for the May 5 departure date have been notified that a food and wine festival will be hosted in Norfolk on May 5, which could cause additional traffic congestion for guests seeking to reach the cruise port on Waterside Drive.

Francis Scott Key Bridge, Baltimore (Photo Credit: Andrew Leyden / Shutterstock)

“The city will be hosting a Food & Wine Festival, and this may cause some congestion at the entrance to the port,” the notification email read. “If you will be dropped off or will be parking in Norfolk, we suggest going directly to Cedar Grove Parking.”

The cruise line will be providing complimentary shuttle service from Cedar Grove Parking to the cruise terminal, a distance of approximately 1.4 miles (2.25 kilometers). Cedar Grove Parking is north of the cruise port, adjacent to Elmwood Cemetery.

Because of the possibility of delays due to the festival, Carnival Cruise Line is extending the overall embarkation time frame until 4 p.m., when all guests must be onboard for the 88,500-gross-ton, Spirit-class Carnival Pride to depart on schedule.

It should be noted that the cruise line is still offering limited bus transportation from Baltimore to Norfolk, with bus departures running from 8:30-10:30 a.m. Guests must register no later than noon on Thursday, May 2, to secure their space on the bus. The ride will take approximately five hours, and water and a light snack will be provided.

Read Also: Baltimore Harbor Reopening Update – What About Cruise Ships?

Similar bus transportation will also be offered back to Baltimore when the sailing ends on Sunday, May 12.

At this time, there is no anticipated change to Carnival Pride‘s 7-night itinerary, other than her temporary homeport. If weather permits, the ship will still be visiting Nassau, Princess Cays, and Freeport on the roundtrip Bahamas sailing.

Travelers arriving in Norfolk to meet Carnival Pride this weekend should note that the Spring Town Point Virginia Wine Festival is not the only event that may cause traffic congestion and road closures.

The weekend wine festival, which runs both Saturday and Sunday, offers more than 200 wines from Virginia vineyards, along with live music, shopping, and more in Town Point Park, on the southeast side of the cruise terminal.

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

The city is also hosting the annual Virginia Society of Association Executives (VSAE) Diamond Jubilee conference, which will be at the Hilton Norfolk The Main on East Main Street, one block from the festival and less than 500 yards from the cruise terminal. The conference begins on Sunday, May 5, and so attendees will be creating more traffic and congestion just as cruise travelers are arriving.

To accommodate the festival and the conference, as well as lane construction, several sections of Waterside Drive near the cruise terminal will be closed. Anyone driving to the cruise terminal should plan for additional time or investigate a different route prior to arriving in Norfolk.

It is not unusual for events such as music festivals, parades, or marathons to impact traffic patterns near popular cruise homeports. All travelers should be alert to the possibility of events – as well as road construction and other potential obstacles – when they will be traveling to their cruise.

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