Hurricane Harvey Leaves 15000 Travelers Stranded on Cruise Ships

With 20,000 vacationers waiting at sea on cruise ships and beach parks shuttered for the weekend, Galveston is hunkering down for the storm.

Two of the Carnival ships are diverting to New Orleans, where they will let people off if they don't want to wait around until it's safe to dock in Texas.

The National Hurricane Center says the Indianola hurricane ranks as the fifth strongest hurricane to make US landfall, behind the 1935 Keys hurricane, 1969's Camille, 2006's Katrina and 1992's Andrew.

By Friday night, Hurricane Harvey was classified as a Category 4 storm. While Galveston schools plan to remain open, that could change as the storm moves closer, said spokesman Kyle Bolen.

The center says Harvey has sustained wind speeds of 130 miles per hour (209kph) as the powerful storm churns off the Texas coast. About 150 people died, putting it in the top 25 most fatal hurricanes.

The port of Galveston, where some Carnival cruise trips begin and end, was closed because of the storm. They are now at sea and "will remain a safe distance from the storm", a spokesperson said in an email.

Carnival said the next scheduled voyages for Carnival Freedom and Carnival Valor will be shortened with itineraries to be determined. The statement says they'll resume their return to Galveston as soon as possible.

But because of Harvey, her cruise ship is staying for an extra day in Cozumel, the island off the coast of Mexico, she told CNN.

A third Carnival ship, Breeze, was scheduled to return to Galveston on Sunday. That shipt has more than 6,000 on board. Typically, the strongest winds are found in the northeastern side of the eye wall for a storm moving from south to north, like Hurricane Matthew.

"Right now we are being asked to stay onboard for an undetermined amount of time", said Bravo.

"A lot of our infrastructure - water systems, delivery systems, wastewater pump stations, sewer systems - most of those have been upgraded", Yarbrough said. If that happens, "there here won't be time or capacity for any evacuation", the mayor said.

  • Jacqueline Ellis