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Hurricane Harvey extends Caribbean cruise for thousands, blogger says

By Isis Simpson-Mersha From MLIVE Michigan

What’s not to like about an extra four or five days on a luxury cruise ship for an extended summer vacation?

For one, the hurricane and devasting flooding in Texas that has kept thousands of people from disembarking Royal Caribbean International’s Liberty of the Seas at the port of Galveston.

CMU grad Cynthia Drake, a travel writer who moved from Michigan to Austin, Texas, in 2014, is on the ship with her family, and has been blogging about the travails of this travel adventure on

Drake, a former employee of the CMU Marketing and Communications Department, and her family boarded the Royal Caribbean International’s Liberty of the Seas on Sunday, Aug. 20, in Galveston, Texas. So far, their trip has been extended by four days as of Thursday, Aug. 31, due to the impact of hurricane Harvey, which made landfall on Friday in Texas.

The cruise dates were scheduled for Aug.20-27, and the ports were Roatan, Honduras and Costa Maya and Cozumel, Mexico. On Sunday, Aug. 27, the cruise ship was seemingly on track and on its way to port back in Galveston, but the port closed.

“The captain hoped that it would be open by Sunday, or that they would make an exception for our vessel, but it remained closed,” Drake said. “We arrived on Sunday and waited several hours before the captain announced we would instead go to Miami on Tuesday.

“After an initial sense of shock following the Sunday announcement about changing course to Florida, passengers settled into the task of making alternate arrangements — changing flights, alerting family and friends back home, etc. Some cried; others celebrated,” Drake wrote.

While in Miami, about 2,000 people left the ship and purchased tickets to fly home, the other 2,000 remained on board. Drake said many of those remaining on the ship are from Texas.

She said the atmosphere on the boat now is fairly upbeat and the Royal Caribbean won’t be charging for the extra days of the cruise, which will include food, entertainment and discounts on drinks, specialty dining, spa services and internet.

“I want to acknowledge mainly that what we are going through is not hard by any standard,” Drake said. “This is some people’s dream, to wake up at the end of a vacation and be told that you are ‘forced’ to be on vacation for several more days.

“However, it’s also not something to dismiss out of hand — many passengers on the boat are working families who just wanted to take their kids on an easy trip before school. And some of them have ended up losing homes, cars and other property and will come home to lots of sadness,” she said.

Drake wrote that Capt. James MacDonald hosted an informal question-and-answer session with passengers on Monday to address the concerns about the continued impact of Harvey.

Drake wrote in her blog: “One passenger wanted to know: What happens if we have the same situation when we return to Galveston? Several people have been watching Houston weather reports with dire predictions for more rain coming into an already flooded city. Another passenger was concerned about getting her kids home to start school. ‘When does this end?’ she asked.”

As of Thursday, Aug. 31, the ship was en route to Galveston, in an attempt to port sometime on Friday.

The extended trip has caused her oldest child to miss the the first week of school, to start the first grade on Monday.

“It’s nothing compared to the suffering of others, just an unplanned inconvenience,” Drake said.

IMAGE: Cynthia Drake and her family on the Liberty’s Promenade.(Courtesy of Cynthia Drake)

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