Maritime ports hosting hurricane-diverted cruise ships

Cruise ship Sea Princess arrives Thursday, Sept.14, 2006 in the harbour of St.John's, N.L. CP PHOTO/Jacques Boissinot

Ports around the Maritimes have been welcoming thousands of unexpected travellers due to hurricane Irma.

Two cruise ships were diverting to Port Saint John in New Brunswick – one Wednesday and another Thursday – bringing an influx of roughly 5,000 passengers.

The Port of Halifax said the Carnival Pride cruise ship, which can carry about 2,600 people, arrived in the harbour Wednesday after deciding to divert because of the storm.

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That vessel was expected to head to Saint John, N.B., on Thursday.

“I’m sure the ports down around Florida and the Caribbean would do the same for us if there was a bad storm in our waters,” said Betty MacMillan, manager of cruise development for Port Saint John.

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MacMillan said a ship diversion to Saint John in 1989 is what initiated the city’s cruise ship industry.

“There was a hurricane headed to Bermuda and the Cunard Princess came to Saint John with two days notice,” said MacMillan, adding that the port sees about two ships diversions per year because of storms.

“It’s happened many times since. We’ll get an email asking if we have a berth available and we do everything we can to accommodate.”

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Thousands flock to Halifax, Dartmouth waterfronts for Tall Ships Regatta

MacMillan said cruise lines are diligent about keeping their passengers safe, and are in contact with ports they could potentially divert to days or even a week in advance. She said ultimately the decision rests with the captain of the vessel.

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In Cape Breton, the Port of Sydney said it had received an inquiry from a German cruise line about possibly diverting there from the Bahamas, although nothing was confirmed.

Meanwhile, multiple cruise lines were reporting that scheduled cruises to areas south of Florida were now going ahead as planned.

Forecasters in the U.S. were keeping an eye on hurricane Jose – which was 760 kilometres south of Bermuda late Wednesday morning – although the National Hurricane Center said in an advisory the storm was not expected to impact land over the next several days. No coastal watches or warnings were in effect.

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