Hurricane Nicole Upends Travel Plansby Dori Saltzman /
Hurricane Nicole made landfall in Central Florida early Thursday morning, forcing cruise lines to change itineraries, while at least three ports have shut down entirely. At the same time, some airports are closed and airlines have lifted ticket change restrictions. Walt Disney World also closed down, though it is expected to open back up sometime on Thursday.
Tropical Storm Nicole made landfall in the Bahamas around noon on November 9, and then hit Florida as a Category 1 hurricane early on November 10. Hazardous conditions are expected to hammer the state for as long as 48 hours.
As of 8 p.m. Tuesday (November 8), the U.S. Coast Guard set Port Condition Zulu for Port Everglades and PortMiami. Gale force winds are expected and all oceangoing vessels over 500 gross registered tons are prohibited from docking.
The same is true for the port of West Palm Beach. As a result, Margaritaville at Sea canceled its Tuesday sailing.
Because of the closure at Port Everglades, two Holland America ships are remaining at sea. Both Eurodam and Rotterdam were scheduled to conclude their sailings Wednesday (November 9) at Port Everglades. The cruise line is working with guests “to advise on revising their air or ground transportation home.”
Additionally, cruisers who were set to embark on Wednesday have been notified that their cruises will be delayed by at least 24 hours.
Three Carnival cruise ships altered course on their current itineraries.
Carnival Sunshine, which is currently sailing a five-day cruise out of Charleston is stayed out to sea Wednesday instead of visiting Nassau in the Bahamas today. It will call on Nassau on Thursday instead of Princess Cays.
Carnival Liberty, which is in the midst of a four-day cruise from Port Canaveral stayed at sea Tuesday instead of calling at Nassau, and visited Cozumel Wednesday instead of Princess Cays.
Carnival Elation, currently in the midst of a five-day cruise from Jacksonville, visited Freeport in the Bahamas Tuesday instead of Princess Cays.
Royal Caribbean altered the itineraries of six cruise ships.
Multiple airports have been impacted as wel, including Palm Beach International Airport, which closed to commercial flights at 9 a.m. on Wednesday morning, and Orlando International Airport, which closed at 4 p.m. on Wednesday. Both Fort Lauderdale and Miami international airports remain open, but are experiencing delays and cancellations.
Delta fliers with flights scheduled between November 8 and November 13 flying to and from the Bahamas, Turks & Caicos, Savannah (Georgia), and Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Orlando, Daytona Beach, Jacksonville, Tallahassee and nearby area airports may change their flights without penalty if rebooking a flight for November 16 or earlier.
American Airlines is waiving fees for flights to and from most Florida airports as well as some airports in the Caribbean and Georgia. Fliers may push their trip to November 18 (or earlier) for no fee, so long as they make the change by November 13.
JetBlue is waiving change and cancellation fees for fliers traveling November 9 through November 11 to and from Orlando or Tampa, only. Customers may rebook their travel through November 17. Original tickets must have been issued on or before November 8.
For passengers flying JetBlue to or from Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Miami or West Palm Beach, the airline is waiving change/cancel fees for those traveling from November 9 through November 10. Customers may rebook their flights for travel through November 13. Original tickets must have been issued on or before November 7.
Fliers with canceled JetBlue flights at any airport may also opt for a refund to the original form of payment.
Southwest is permitting customers to make changes without a fee to reservations to/from/through Charleston (CHS), Fort Lauderdale (FLL), Fort Myers (RSW), Jacksonville (JAX), Miami (MIA), Myrtle Beach (MYR), Nassau (NAS), Orlando (MCO), Sarasota (SRQ), Savannah (SAV), Tampa (TPA), and West Palm Beach (PBI). Only flights originally booked from November 7 to 11 qualify, and tickets must be issued for a date within two weeks of the original date.
United fliers with tickets for travel between November 8 and November 11 to/from/through Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Key West, Miami, Nassau, Orlando, Sarasota, Tallahassee, Tampa, and West Palm Beach may change their tickets without fee, so long as travel is rescheduled in the originally ticketed cabin and between the same cities as originally ticketed. Reservations must be rebooked between November 8 and November 18.