This week, the Caribbean and most of Florida have been in intense preparation for Hurricane Irma. From securing homes to stocking up on essentials that may be necessary in the coming weeks, communities in the path of the storm have taken this massive natural disaster with appropriate seriousness.
Early on Friday, September 8th, Hurricane Irma was downgraded from a category 5 to a category 4 storm, but only after leaving a trail of destruction in her wake. Already, the hurricane is responsible for 12 deaths and severe devastation in several Caribbean Islands. The National Hurricane Center issued a warning to all individuals living in the path of the storm, advising, “Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion.”
The impending hurricane has had a serious impact on the cruise industry. Given the fact that many major cruise lines have their home ports in Florida, it is no surprise that precautions have been necessary, to make sure that both passengers and crewmembers are safe.
Passengers Dropped Off in PortMiami
In our last report, we explained the measures that some cruise lines were implementing in order to divert itineraries out of the path of the storm. However, as Irma draws closer, increasingly weighty decisions have been made.
In the past few days, numerous cruise lines have been allowed to enter PortMiami ahead of schedule. In some cases, passengers were dropped off in the city. In others, such as the case with Norwegian, passengers were accommodated on a cruise headed out of the path of the storm. Either way, the situation is dire.
For out of towners, the struggle to find a way out of Florida is very real. With flights either booked up or asking outrageous prices, gas stations without gas, and minimal help from the cruise lines, many of the passengers dropped off in Miami are faced with an uphill battle.
As for the approximately 4,000 passengers on the Norwegian cruise that will sail out of the path of the storm, only time will tell what they have left upon their return.
Upcoming Voyages Yet to be Cancelled
Future passengers with vacations scheduled to depart this weekend are also unsure of what will happen. Carnival Cruise spokeswoman Jennifer De La Cruz explained, “Our first priority is always to ensure guest and crew safety. If we can operate a voyage to preserve people’s highly anticipated vacation plans, we will do so.” However, she went on to note that, given the potential for the storm’s trajectory to change at a moment’s notice, it is difficult to make itinerary cancellations and changes in advance.
So far, Royal Caribbean is the only cruise line to keep all of its ships away from PortMiami, choosing instead to remain at sea until after the storm passes. Given Royal Caribbean’s history with the Anthem of the Seas disaster, where the company thought they could outrun a massive winter storm that ended up subjecting thousands of passengers to the sheer terror of cruising through a hurricane, this is likely a wise move. We will keep our eyes on the news as this storm progresses.
LMAW Can Help After the Storm
As the hurricane makes landfall across Florida, we hope that everyone will continue to stay safe and out of harm’s way. Our team has helped numerous clients navigate their legal battle after an accident aboard their cruise. As a result, every maritime lawyer at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, PA understands what you are facing.
We have been on the front lines of every major maritime disaster in recent history: the Carnival Triumph, the Costa Concordia, the Anthem of the Seas, The El Faro Sinking. We are honored that we were able to help roughly a thousand families affected by each of these disasters. And we pray that we will not have to face another disaster because of Irma.