BALTIMORE — Annette McKenny Neufeld dreamed for months about a tropical beach vacation, on a sunny, sandy beach hundreds of miles from the brisk autumn in her hometown of Ontario, Canada.
When she, her husband and her 12-year-old son departed Baltimore, however, Hurricane Matthew forced them northward. Their dreams of Caribbean paradise became a New York detour.
“To me this hasn’t been a cruise,” she told The Associated Press in a Facebook message Thursday, still hundreds of miles from Baltimore’s harbor. “Now all we want is to get off and head home.”
Neufeld is one of 1,600 passengers who bought tickets for a seven-day trip to Grand Turk island in Turks and Caicos, and Half Moon Cay and Freeport in the Bahamas, aboard the Carnival Pride ship. But the ship was re-routed at the last minute and instead headed north to New York.
Vance Gulliksen, a spokesman for Carnival, said the ship was to make a stop in Saint John, New Brunswick, but was forced to enter the Chesapeake Bay ahead of heavy weather conditions. The ship will arrive back in Baltimore on Sunday.
Gulliksen said guests were offered the option of canceling their reservation and receiving a full refund. Those who chose to set sail will receive $250 shipboard credit and a half-off voucher for a future cruise.
Neufeld said she and her family didn’t know of the route change until they arrived in Baltimore and printed their tickets. She considered canceling the trip altogether, but after her son cried for hours, inconsolable at the thought of staying onshore, she and her husband took a gamble. But on Tuesday, after one day in New York, guests were informed that there would be no second port visit.
“You could till a cannon down the hall it was so quiet,” she said, adding that people stood in line for hours after the announcement to file complaints. “I know we’re not the only people disappointed.”
Now en route back to Baltimore, Neufeld said some passengers are still angry and upset, while others took the news in stride.
Among them was frequent cruise passenger Debbie Grau of Scottsboro, Alabama, who told the AP in a Facebook message that she has been impressed by Carnival’s handling.
“We have had nothing but a great time and Carnival has been amazing,” she said. She and her husband did have to buy some gym shoes and sweats in brisk New York, however, in anticipation of the Canadian leg that was canceled.
“We’re making ‘lemon drops’ out of lemons,” she said. “And happy to be aboard.”
Hartounian reported from Phoenix.