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Carnival reroutes Baltimore-bound cruises to Norfolk through April

A cruise ship docked at Norfolk’s Half Moone Cruise Center in 2022. (Photo by Kyle J. Little via Shutterstock)
A cruise ship docked at Norfolk’s Half Moone Cruise Center in 2022. (Photo by Kyle J. Little via Shutterstock)

Downtown Norfolk is bracing for several weeks of cruise ship arrivals and departures that it didn’t expect.

It’s part of the fallout from the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore Tuesday morning.

Carnival announced late Tuesday it would move its operations from Baltimore to Norfolk as crews continue cleanup efforts of the collapsed bridge.

“We’ve worked with Carnival for 23 years and they called early yesterday morning and said ‘We need some help,’ and that’s what we’re doing,” said Stephen Kirkland, the director of Cruise Norfolk.

Kirkland said Norfolk was also talking with other cruise lines.

“They’re in a mess up there, so we’re going to do what we can,” he said.

Roughly 3,600 passengers will disembark in Norfolk this Sunday and board dozens of buses to get them back to Baltimore, which Downtown Norfolk Council President Mary Miller said will make for a busy day downtown. 

“Patience please on Sunday, because all those passengers are going to be loaded on buses, it's Easter Sunday and there’s a Tides game at one, “Hadestown” is at Chrysler Hall in the afternoon and the evening so downtown is going to be a little hectic,” Miller said.

The next set of passengers will board the ship here, and tractor-trailers full of supplies will load the ship up for the next seven-day cruise departing Sunday night. 

Miller said Carnival is planning for a cruise arrival and departure every Sunday at least through the end of April.

Norfolk is preparing to start renovating its Half Moone Cruise Center terminal to accommodate larger ships, with work set to start in the next few weeks. That’s in part to service Carnival, which is planning to start year-round cruise service out of the city next year.

Other cruise lines have also contacted Norfolk about handling more arrivals.

Ryan is WHRO’s business and growth reporter. He joined the newsroom in 2021 after eight years at local newspapers, the Daily Press and Virginian-Pilot. Ryan is a Chesapeake native and still tries to hold his breath every time he drives through the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel.

The world changes fast.

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