Cruise ship delayed due to spill could set sail

The Royal Caribbean Navigator of the Seas and the Carnival Magic sit idle with dozens of other ships off the coast of Galveston, Texas on Sunday, March 23, 2014. At least 33 vessels, including two cruise ships, are waiting to enter the Houston Ship Channel from the Gulf of Mexico after a ship and barge collided near the Texas City dike on Saturday afternoon. (AP Photo/ Houston Chronicle, Smiley N. Pool)
The Royal Caribbean Navigator of the Seas and the Carnival Magic sit idle with dozens of other ships off the coast of Galveston, Texas on Sunday, March 23, 2014. At least 33 vessels, including two cruise ships, are waiting to enter the Houston Ship Channel from the Gulf of Mexico after a ship and barge collided near the Texas City dike on Saturday afternoon. (AP Photo/ Houston Chronicle, Smiley N. Pool)

GALVESTON, Texas (KXAN) — Thousands of people on board a cruise ship heard Monday afternoon from the captain that they should be sailing out Monday evening. The Caribbean Princess was set to leave the port Saturday afternoon but was delayed due to the oil spill.

KXAN talked to an Austin couple Sunday afternoon on the ship, who said they were waiting it out. Monday, they told us the captain of the ship said they are authorized to sail out Monday night.

Harrell and Virginia Hoffman live in Austin. They say the cruise was supposed to be seven days with stops at three ports. They told us if in fact the ship sails out in the evening, they’ll still be able to make it to two ports.

The Hoffman’s also told KXAN the cruise line is offering full refunds plus 25 percent credit to those on board–but that was only valid only if you disembarked the ship by 4pm Monday. If passengers chose to stay and do the remaining 5-day cruise they were told they’d get 50 percent credit for future cruise.

The Hoffman’s said the port terminal building was reopening and six buses were waiting for those who did not arrive by car to take if they wish.

Sunday KXAN reported that cruise ships trying to get in and out of ports in the area were stuck. Harrell and Virginia Hoffman boarded the “Caribbean Princess” around 1:30 Saturday afternoon.

“Pretty quickly, the captain came on and said that unfortunately he had some bad news,” said Harrell Hoffman, “We assumed it was something that would delay us a bit, but turns out, it was the closure of the entire port because of the oil spill. [The captain] was optimistic that we would get out later in the day, but I turned to Virginia and said, ‘I bet we’re not out of here for several days.’ And, that’s still my opinion.”

It was an unusual way to begin a vacation at sea.

“It started off really quiet. Everything had this atmosphere of–no one was really partying, because we were waiting for our vacation to begin, and it wasn’t beginning,” said Virginia Hoffman.

By Sunday evening, still no movement. So, vacationers started to make the most of it.

“People were swimming in the pool up until it started raining today,” said Harrell Hoffman, “The entertainment is going on. Of course, the food is abundant and great.”

What was supposed ot be a seven-day cruise, now might be a four- or five-day cruise–at best–if they leave port at all.

“As reality is setting in, everyone’s going, ‘Well, what are we going to do?’ You can only play bingo so many times,” said Virginia Hoffman, laughing.

The Hoffmans, though, say they won’t complain too much about being stuck on an idle cruise ship.

“These cruise issues are nothing compared to the potential environmental impact [of the oil spill,]” said Harrell Hoffman.

He says the captain said if they don’t leave port by Monday, they could consider letting passengers off the ship if they wish.

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