NEW ORLEANS - Three Carnival cruise ships that were supposed to return to the Port of Galveston, TX days ago are taking turns restocking in New Orleans as they await the reopening of the Texas port. Thousands of passengers remain on board the ships, waiting to return home.
The Carnival Freedom, Carnival Valor and Carnival Breeze were all supposed to return to Galveston last weekend, but the extreme flooding forced the U.S. Coast Guard to close the port until conditions improve.
"Unfortunately, extreme flooding conditions caused by the storm continue to impact the Galveston and greater Houston areas. As a result, officials from the Port of Galveston and United States Coast Guard cannot predict, with any certainty, when the port will re-open, but now expect it will remain closed until late this week," a statement from Carnival reads on the Port of Galveston website.
The ships have been taking turns coming in and out of New Orleans to restock food, fuel and supplies. While Carnival has not released passenger counts, the ships hold thousands.
Some have chosen to disembark in New Orleans to try and make their way back to Galveston or back home. However, if they choose to leave the ship, they're on their own to make transportation arrangements.
"My family, we chose to stay with the cruise ship because why waste money on a hotel or to rent a car?Hopefully our cars are still safe back in Galveston," said Shannon Street, one of the passengers who has had four extra days added on to his Caribbean cruise.
Street calls Kileen home, in central Texas, and is not concerned about flooding impacting his home. But many other passengers live in the Houston area, including the Krobath family.
"Our neighborhood seems to be doing ok. We live near the lake. So, the lake's pretty high but our neighborhood hasn't flooded," said Catherine Krobath.
Their nine-month-old daughter has been staying with her in-laws since the rest of the family left for the cruise last week.
"It's very stressful because we're not there but at the same time, at least we know that we're safe. So, you've gotta look at it positively," Krobath said.
Carnival wasn't the only cruise line with a ship stranded because of the Galveston port closure. A spokesman for Royal Carribean Cruises, LTD said the Liberty of the Seas has docked in Miami with thousands of passengers on board waiting for Galveston to reopen.
That ship alone held 4,451 passengers, 2,000 of whom decided to get off in Miami and find a way back to Texas.
Carnival said in a statement that the company expects the three ships to head back out to sea on Wednesday or Thursday in hopes the port will re-open by week's end.