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First cruise ship to return to Port of Baltimore since collapse

Posted at 6:27 PM, May 10, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-10 18:27:13-04

BALTIMORE — When Ragina Ali set sail out of the Port of Baltimore, and crossed under the Key Bridge, she forgot to take a picture. She was pointing out the iconic structure to out-of-town family members. She didn't know it'd be the last time she ever saw it.

Two days later, the cruise ship's captain announced the bridge had collapsed, and would likely impact their return to Baltimore.

As AAA's Public and Government Affairs Manager -

"I pretty much knew immediately that we weren't going back. But some people were like, 'Oh they'll have it cleaned up by then.' And I was like, 'Yeah no. You clearly don't realize the magnitude of what's going on here.'"

The ship ended up returning to Norfolk, Virginia, and so has every ship that was supposed to leave from and return to Baltimore. Carnival is bussing people back and forth.

According to posts from travelers in various Carnival cruise groups on Facebook, people aren't finding out where they're sailing out of until a week before.

"It’s obviously a change so depending on where you’re coming from that may be a longer drive, that may be a shorter drive. It may mean an overnight stay at a hotel. It may mean flying in,” Ali said. "So, you have options. We don’t know unfortunately when cruises will return to Baltimore. We’re optimistic that it’ll be sooner rather than later, but at this point, none of us really know."

Carnival just gave this update to WMAR-2 News: "We informed our guests that we have been given a strong indication that cruise traffic can return to Baltimore before the end of May, and based on guidance from port officials, we are planning to embark guests on Carnival Pride's May 19 cruise in Norfolk, Va. but expect to conclude the sailing in Baltimore. We are encouraging our guests to register for our complimentary bus service between Baltimore and Norfolk for the sailing's embarkation. We remain in close contact with local, state, and federal officials regarding the return of our operations at the Port of Baltimore."

Port officials tell WMAR-2 News they have no new information to share yet. They're waiting for an updated "Marine Safety Information Bulletin" from the Coast Guard, which is expected to have more details.

As for the financial impact, the port's closure may have had on the cruise industry so far, Ali said, "I think it had minimal impact just because the Carnival Legend was the only Carnival ship sailing out of Baltimore at the time when this horrible tragedy occurred. The Royal Caribbean had a scheduled maintenance anyway.”

She says if there's one thing she learned from her most recent cruise, it's to always have a plan B when you're traveling.

"No one expected this. No one expected that when we left Baltimore on March 24, that we were going to be the last Carnival ship sailing under the Francis Scott Key Bridge. This is why I always say - you don’t need a passport to sail on a cruise. But it’s good to have one because God forbid you need to fly back home, you have a medical emergency, you’re going to need that passport to get back into the country."