Port Canaveral Evacuates Workers as Hurricane Irma Closes In

Florida’s Port Canaveral has closed commercial operations in preparation for the arrival of the Hurricane Irma, which is packing sustained winds of 180 mph.

The Canaveral Port Authority has released all non-essential employees from work at a close of business on Thursday acting upon the Brevard County evacuation order.

“As of 12 Midnight tonight, all non-hurricane port operations will have ceased,” the port authority said in a release.

Brevard County announced on Thursday that mandatory evacuations will start at 3:00 pm on Friday, September 8 for the barrier islands, Merritt Island, and some of the mainland areas along the Indian River Lagoon.

Due to the port closure, Carnival Cruise Line said that its ship Carnival Magic would re-route to New Orleans to avoid the weather.

“Carnival Magic current cruise (Sept. 3-9 from Port Canaveral) will proceed directly to New Orleans where we will arrive on Saturday, Sept. 9. Guests will be given the opportunity to disembark and make independent arrangements to travel home. Guests also have the option to remain on board and sail back with us to Port Canaveral, where we will disembark the ship as soon as the port reopens,” the latest update from the company reads.

Furthermore, given the storm’s projected path, Carnival canceled the following sailings:

– Carnival Liberty – Sept. 7 three-day Bahamas cruise from Port Canaveral
– Carnival Victory – Sept. 8 three-day Bahamas cruise from Miami
– Carnival Splendor – Sept. 9 – five-day Eastern Caribbean cruise from Port Everglades
– Carnival Liberty – Sept. 10 – four-day Bahamas cruise from Port Canaveral

The company said all guests would be provided with a full refund.

“We remain in constant contact with port officials regarding potential port closures in South and Central Florida. Given the uncertainty of the storm’s impact, we will be shortening the duration of several upcoming cruises,” the company added.

Royal Caribbean said that it was cancelling planned truips of the Empress of the Seas for September 9 Cuba cruise, and the September 8 Bahamas cruises for the Enchantment of the Seas and Majesty of the Seas.

The return of the current sailings of Oasis, Harmony and Allure of the Seas, has been delayed until the storm has passed.

Virgin Islands seaports are closed to commercial traffic, including the seaplane. There is no ferry service to the BVI or St. Croix.

However, there is ferry service between Cruz Bay, St. John and Red Hook, St. Thomas until further notice, Virgin Islands Port Authority said.

Port readiness condition whiskey was set for the Ports of Savannah and Brunswick due to the potential impact from the hurricane. Port condition X Ray was set for the Port of Miami and Port Everglades on Thursday, which is likely to switch to condition Zulu by Saturday morning.

Port Condition X-RAY was set for the ports of Manatee, St Petersburg, and Tampa Bay.

The eye of the category 5 hurricane Irma continues to move north of the coast of Hispaniola, approaching the Turks and Caicos and southeastern Bahamas. It is expected to reach somewhere between Cuba and Florida by early Sunday morning.

World Maritime News Staff