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SHELTER FROM THE STORM:
CRUISING ON CARIBBEAN
PRINCESS DURING HURRICANE
Richard H. Wagner
Our third day in Boston was mostly cloudy but the wind had died down. Those passengers who were not disembarking were asked to return to the ship by 9:30 in the evening as the ship now expected to get underway for New York shortly thereafter. The authorities had informed Princess that the port would probably be open by Friday and that Caribbean Princess could dock at the Passenger Ship Terminal on the West side of Manhattan.
For those passengers interested in doing another day of sightseeing, a free shuttle bus service was initiated between the cruise terminal and Boston's popular Quincy Market. Alternatively, there would be a program of activities onboard.
Above: Norwegian Gem in Boston.
During the day two other cruise ships arrived at Black Falcon Terminal. Norwegian Dawn had sailed from Boston on the 19th on a Canada-New England cruise that had taken her all the way to Quebec City. She was now returning to Boston as scheduled.
Her fleet-mate Norwegian Gem had been on a Caribbean cruise that had been scheduled to return to New York on October 29 - - the day Hurricane Sandy had hit the East Coast. Gem instead had ridden out the storm at sea. Because the Port of New York was still closed, she like Caribbean Princess, was unable to return to where her cruise had begun.
At about eleven at night, Caribbean Princess cast off her lines and with the assistance of one tug, maneuvered past the other two cruise ships and a container ship docked nearby. It was a cool but beautiful night and the two other cruise ships looked spectacular with their bright lights. As we passed Norwegian Gem, passengers on the two ships shouted to each other: “See you in New York!” “Tell Bloomberg we're coming!” The adversity of the storm had created a common bond between the two ships.
Above: Norwegian Dawn with Norwegian Gem in the background as Caribbean Princess puts out to sea.
The final day at sea was like a typical sea day. It was a day full of activities and entertainment in the evening. The sky was overcast for much of the day but eventually turned sunny. The seas were smooth and Caribbean Princess proceeded along at 14 knots. People packed and prepared for disembarkation the next morning.
In the afternoon, the captain spoke once again on the public address system. He reported that the authorities had confirmed that the Port of New York would be open tomorrow and that Caribbean Princess would be docking at the Manhattan Passenger Ship Terminal. Furthermore, Princess was offering as a “token of good will” a credit towards a future cruise equal to half the fare that the guest had paid for this cruise. A round of spontaneous applause followed the announcement.
Above: Sunshine on the homeward voyage.
New York Regained
During the night, Norwegian Gem passed us, so when Caribbean Princess arrived at the Passenger Ship Terminal in the early daylight of November 1, we found the Norwegian ship already docked on the south side of Pier 88 in her usual berth. Caribbean Princess prepared to dock on the north side of the pier.
Docking at the Passenger Ship Terminal can be tricky. A ship wishing to do so has to sail up the Hudson River and make a 90 degree right turn across the current of the river. It is a strong current and if it has been boosted by flood water, it can cause a ship to collide with the dock. Since the river was carrying the run off from Hurricane Sandy, there was the potential for a difficult docking. However, Captain Manfuso and Caribbean Princess were able to execute this maneuver uneventfully.
Indeed, the only unusual aspect of the ship's arrival was that all passengers had to carry their own luggage off the ship. Princess attributed this to “conditions at the pier.” However, since most passengers had only packed for a four day cruise and many were planning on carrying their bags off anyway, this did not appear to create widespread problems. After a nice breakfast in the Coral Dining Room, I walked off the ship, past the television camera crews and into the early morning sunshine.
* * *
In conclusion, I am glad that I went on this cruise. Yes, I would have preferred a relaxing day in Bermuda to three days of anxiety and uncertainty in Boston but given the circumstances Caribbean Princess was a good place to be during the hurricane. Indeed, when I returned home to New York, I found that there was no electricity and would be none for a week in my neighborhood. Houses had been damaged and trees were down nearby. A shelter had been opened for residents in one of the buildings in a local park. I felt somewhat guilty having been in safety and comfort onboard the ship.
In my opinion, Princess did a very good job of taking care of the passengers. First and foremost, the passengers were kept safe throughout. In fact, with the tugs and mooring lines deployed during the first day in Boston, you would have had to look out a window to know that there was a storm in progress. Princess may have been overly optimistic in thinking that it would be able to run shore excursions during the first day in Boston but otherwise, the shipboard programming was quite good. Dining remained up to Princess' usual high standards even with two days that had not been planned for added to the length of the cruise. I was also impressed by the fact that Princess repeatedly went beyond what it was legally required to do under the contract between it and the passengers. After all, the storm was not Princess' fault.
All in all, it was a memorable cruise.
Above: Caribbean Princess in Manhattan.
Cruise review - - Princess Cruises - - Caribbean Princess - - page 3