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SHELTER FROM THE STORM:
CRUISING ON CARIBBEAN
PRINCESS DURING HURRICANE
Richard H. Wagner
The Storm Arrives
The next morning, Monday October 29, 2012, the rain was blowing horizontally past the Caribbean Princess. On the shore opposite our berth, trees were bending and waves were breaking against the pilings that divided the land from the sea even in this sheltered basin. Winds clocked at 33 knots in the morning and 63 knots in the afternoon were blowing against Caribbean Princess' starboard side. However, 22 mooring lines, the ship's thrusters and two powerful tug boats that were pushing against Caribbean Princess' port side to held her against the pier. As a result, the ship experienced no rocking.
Captain Mariano Manfuso came on the public address system and announced that the tour operators had canceled all of the scheduled shore excursions. In addition, the local authorities were urging against all but essential travel. As a practical matter, everything was closed in Boston. Still, if a guest wanted to leave the ship, they were reminded that they would need to have their stateroom key card and a photo I.D. with them in order to re-board.
He also announced that the current plan was for Caribbean Princess to sail for New York the next day. Because of the sea conditions, the ship would have to proceed slowly and so would not arrive in New York until Thursday, a day late. This was now a five day cruise.
The schedule in the ship's daily program, the Princess Patter, was a schedule for a port day. Realizing that most, if not all, of the passengers would be staying onboard, the cruise director announced that several additional activities and events would take place beyond those set forth in the Patter. Consequently, the day unfolded like a day at sea except that no one was venturing out onto the open decks.
Although we were safe and enjoying the luxury of Caribbean Princess, there was an underlying tension. Even though the storm had come ashore well south of Boston, the weather conditions that we could see from the ship were nonetheless furious. In addition, the television news channels that were on the stateroom television showed the impact of the storm on New York and New Jersey where many of the passengers lived. Even discounting for the possibility of journalistic sensationalism, the reports of devastation caused people onboard to worry about family, friends and property at home.
Along the same lines, the change in our arrival time in New York meant that some passengers' onward travel arrangements would be disrupted. This was another cause for concern. To help allay such concerns, Princess distributed a letter to the passengers' staterooms offering free internet time and telephone service at the hospitality desk so that passengers could change their travel arrangements.
Princess also said that since this was “not the cruise vacation that you intended” each passenger would receive a Future Cruise Credit equal to a portion of the cruise fare paid for this voyage. The exact amount would be announced later.
Above: Jewel of the Seas setting sail after the storm.
Some Time In Boston
By Tuesday morning, the storm had passed. It was windy and the skies were still gray but every so often a patch of blue would appear. Crystal Symphony sailed; followed later in the day by Jewel of the Seas. The tug boats that had held Caribbean Princess fast against the pier also departed.
An announcement was made that passengers could go ashore. However, they should return to the ship by five in the afternoon as the ship hoped to be able to sail to New York.
Boston was beginning to recover from the storm and so some passengers went off to view the city's sights. Many more stayed onboard where another day of activities was planned.
Still others decided to disembark in Boston. Some were people who lived in the Boston area. Others had obligations elsewhere and some were people who just wanted to get home as quickly as possible. The latter seemed like a forlorn hope because the intercity transportation network had been hard hit by the storm and was still barely functioning. Indeed, this was apparent just by going on deck. The Black Falcon Cruise Terminal is just across a narrow stretch of water from Logan Airport and so it is common to see and hear aircraft taking off and landing while berthed in Boston. But on this day, nothing appeared to be stirring across the water and all was silent.
At around five in the afternoon, the captain again came on the public address system. He said that he had been informed that the cruise terminal in Brooklyn was closed and it was uncertain when it would be operational. Princess was therefore looking for an alternative disembarkation facility. In any event, the ship would not be sailing today.
By now some passengers were quite on edge. Those who had parked at the cruise terminal in Brooklyn had been informed that the parking lot had flooded and that their cars had been damaged.
Also, there was tension due to the uncertainty about when Caribbean Princess would sail for New York. It was fertile ground for rumor and speculation.
As a result, a considerable number of passengers decided to disembark in Boston the next day. To assist them, Princess chartered buses to take them from Boston to Manhattan.
Above: Caribbean Princess at the Black Hawk Cruise Terminal after the storm.
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