My cruise to France and Spain last week on Fred Olsen’s Balmoral (more of that to come soon) made it difficult to carry news updates here. And there was plenty happening, particularly with the disruption caused by Sandy – which I have seen variously described as a hurricane, a tropical storm, a superstorm and the ultimate Frankenstorm. Here’s an updated version of the column I wrote in midweek for publication in the print edition of the Daily Mirror on November 3.
Superstorm Sandy wasn’t just bringing floods and devastation to New York and the USA’s eastern seaboard this week – it also caused chaos to cruise ship schedules.
Dozens of ships were affected, from the Caribbean to Quebec.
The closure of the port of New York forced several cruise ships to divert or remain at sea to ride out the storm.
Two days after it had been due to dock in Manhattan on its return from a Caribbean cruise, the 2,394-passenger Norwegian Gem made an unexpected visit to Boston to take on supplies and fuel before returning to sea. Caribbean Princess, with 3,100 passengers on board, also put into Boston because it was unable to berth in Brooklyn. Both ships were finally able to put into Manhattan on Friday.
The 904-passenger Crystal Symphony, which had been due to begin a voyage from New York to Los Angeles, was in port at Charleston, South Carolina instead.
Royal Caribbean was able to embark passengers on Brilliance of the Seas from Bayonne, New Jersey on Friday afternoon for an eight-night Caribbean cruise to San Juan.
Several cruise lines’ private resort islands in the Bahamas suffered damage as Sandy blew past. Royal Caribbean ships Monarch of the Seas and Majesty of the Seas had to abandon calls at CocoCay and Norwegian Cruise Line’s facility at Great Stirrup Cay was affected.
Disney Dream cancelled a visit to Castaway Cay because debris was being cleared away and sister ship Disney Fantasy suffered minor damage in heavy seas off the coast of Florida.
Carnival Glory’s cruise from Norfolk Virginia, and a Carnival Pride sailing from Baltimore were both cancelled because the ports were closed.
Meanwhile, Cunard’s flagship Queen Mary 2 lived up to its claims to be a true ocean liner rather than a cruise ship by sailing serenely through the turmoil at the start of a Transatlantic crossing to
The ship left Red Hook terminal in Brooklyn a couple of hours early because of the port’s closure, and steamed at top speed northwards past Newfoundland, on a course designed to keep it out of the worst of the weather.
Avid cruise blogger Aaron Saunders takes up the story: “Captain Kevin Oprey advised us we were going to encounter significant winds and heavy swells and the outer decks would be locked off.
“As the full brunt of Hurricane Sandy became apparent, with strong winds whistling through my balcony door, I couldn’t tell what was spray and what was rain; my windows were coated with a thick layer of water and salt, and I’m on Deck 12, 200 feet above the waterline.
“And yet Queen Mary 2 was just absolutely smoking through this bad weather like it was nothing.”
After a night of Force 10 winds and waves of more than 24 feet, the weather eased slighly on Day Two and the sheltered after decks were opened to passengers.
“Let me tell you: Queen Mary 2 is deceptively quiet and cozy on the inside,” says Aaron. “Once outside, the decks were a roaring inferno of wind and spray, like standing behind a jet aircraft on takeoff.”