Bahamas cruise diverted to New England and Canada

MSC Meraviglia leaves the port of New York on a previous sailing on December 9, 2023.

MSC Meraviglia leaves the port of New York on a previous sailing on December 9, 2023.Charly Triballeau/AFP/Getty ImagesCNN — 

Passengers on the cruise ship MSC Meraviglia didn’t get the balmy getaway they were expecting.

The ship, scheduled to sail to the Bahamas this week, instead headed to New England and Canada “due to unseasonable and rapidly worsening weather that would have made it impossible to safely reach the southern Atlantic Ocean from New York City,” Field Sutton, director of communications, MSC Cruises USA, told CNN via email.

The last-minute change left guests scrambling.

Lakeya Allen of Bloomington, Illinois, told CNN she was notified of the itinerary change around 8:30 p.m. Friday, just hours before she planned to head to Chicago with her three children to catch an early flight to New York City.

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“Once I got the notification, I rushed to Walmart to try and get my family winter clothes. I grabbed whatever I could, but Walmart was closing early that night, so we had to just bring what we had packed. We still have shorts, bathing suits and sunscreen with us,” Allen said.

“If the email did say anything about getting a refund or credit, it was in the fine print because I didn’t see anything. I was hoping they would reroute the ship once we got to New York.”

Guests were given a choice to cancel their trip for a future cruise credit at their convenience or to sail on the new itinerary, the cruise line’s statement said.

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“The only alternative would have been to take the more extreme step of cancelling the cruise — and thousands of people’s vacations — outright. The complexities involved in obtaining last-minute berths for unplanned stops and provisioning the ship along its new route left a sailing to Canada and New England as the only viable option,” the statement added.

A huge change of plans

Allen said she had been planning her family’s trip to the Bahamas since February as a Christmas gift for her children and already had family waiting for them on the island and in New York City.

“I told myself that we would do something different this year and instead of buying gifts, we were going to travel and make memories,” Allen told CNN.

“At first, everyone tried to make the most of it, so in the video you see kids jumping in the outdoor pool even though we were in New York, and it was 40 degrees, but we’ve all congregated around the indoor pool so now that pool is crowded,” Allen said.

Allen and her family spent the first two days of the cruise in Boston, where she says they spent Sunday on the ship because it rained. The following day, they got off the boat with other passengers to go in search of sweaters and coats.

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We’re in Portland now and on TikTok trying to find what to do in Portland or what’s in this area because we didn’t plan for this” Allen said. “The boat is beautiful, but I didn’t want to leave the cold weather to go to another place with cold weather. I just wanted to be in the sun.”

The MSC Meraviglia is scheduled to arrive in Saint John in the Canadian province of New Brunswick on Thursday after the stops in Boston and Portland, according to a social media post from Port Saint John.

The weather forecast there calls for a high of 27 degrees F (-3 C) and a low of 12 F (-11 C) on Thursday.

Itinerary changes

Cruise ships frequently skip or change ports of call and reserve the right to do so in their contracts of carriage.

MSC’s says “The Carrier does not guarantee that the Cruise Ship will call at any or every advertised port or follow any particular route or time schedule.”

Itinerary changes often are in the same region and involve diversions around weather systems.

CNN’s Marnie Hunter contributed to this report.

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