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'Devastated': Passengers speak out after Bahamas-bound cruise diverted to New England, Canada over weather

Passengers had the option to cancel for future credit, the cruise line said.

December 19, 2023, 6:12 PM

Passengers of a cruise who were expecting a sunny getaway in the Bahamas this week were instead sailed to a much colder climate due to severe weather.

The MSC Meraviglia was forced to sail from Brooklyn, New York, to ports in New England and Canada on Saturday instead of its original destination in the Bahamas "due to unseasonable and rapidly worsening weather that would have made it impossible to safely reach the southern Atlantic Ocean from New York City," the MSC cruise line said in a statement to ABC News.

The move came after heavy storms struck the East Coast and the Bahamas causing flooding, power outages and several deaths.

PHOTO: The MSC Meraviglia cruise ship leaves the port of New York, on Dec. 9, 2023.
The MSC Meraviglia cruise ship leaves the port of New York, on Dec. 9, 2023.
Charly Triballeau/AFP via Getty Images

"The only alternative would have been to take the more extreme step of canceling the cruise -- and thousands of people's vacations -- outright," MSC said.

"The complexities involved in obtaining last-minute berths for unplanned stops and provisioning the ship along its new route left sailing to Canada and New England as the only viable option," the cruise line added.

MSC also said it offered passengers a choice of sailing to the new destinations or canceling for future credit, "which allows them to put the full value paid for this cruise toward another at their convenience."

PHOTO: In this Jan. 30, 2022, file photo, people watch as the MSC Meraviglia cruise ship departs from Port Canaveral, Fla.
In this Jan. 30, 2022, file photo, people watch as the MSC Meraviglia cruise ship departs from Port Canaveral, Fla.
Sopa Images via Sipa USA via AP, FILE

The MSC Meraviglia is slated to arrive in the Port of Saint John in Canada on Thursday, the port wrote on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.

Speaking to "Good Morning America," Lakeya Allen, who said she arranged the trip with her best friend Val Montgomery as a joint family holiday to the Bahamas, said she was "devastated" by the divergence of the course.

"Good Morning America" airs at 7 a.m. ET on ABC.

"So this is some of my kids' Christmas gifts," she said. "[T]his was like, 'Hey, you guys, you got to go to [the] Bahamas.' We're from Chicago, so we wanted to change the weather. I never fathomed that we will be back in cold weather."

Allen and Montgomery said they have been planning for the trip for almost a year, since last February.

"When they first sent out that message, I wish they would have given us options right in that message and we could at least have a choice," Montgomery told ABC News. "We didn't have a choice at all."

Allen also said they were given such short notice about the decision to change course, saying, "It was beyond short. Yeah, it was unexpected."

As for the cruise, Montgomery said it's getting "a little depressing because you can imagine as we’re making the most of it, but most people are walking around in coats, gloves and hats."

The cruise ship can accommodate up to 5,624 passengers and 1,608 crew members, the cruise line says on its website. It was unclear how many passengers were aboard the rerouted Bahamas cruise.

Chris Gray Faust, executive editor of review site Cruise Critic, told ABC News this kind of scenario and decision to change the cruise's itinerary is "not necessarily out of the question," and that some other cruise lines were reportedly impacted by the inclement weather.

Faust said that cruise lines typically have a "contract of carriage" clause that doesn't guarantee the ports the ship will travel to and allows the cruise operator to change the itinerary for various issues, including weather.

"Generally weather in December is fairly stable in Florida and the Bahamas, but it has been rough last weekend in particular," she said.

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