PORT CANAVERAL, Fla. (FOX 35 ORLANDO) - Six cruise ships and thousands of passengers sailed into Port Canaveral Thursday, one day after the port reopened after Hurricane Dorian passed through the area.
The Port Authority said ships had to extend their itineraries and stay out at sea because of Dorian and Port Canaveral being closed.
The Disney Dream was the first ship to dock around 5:45 a.m. Thursday. Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas and Mariner of the Seas, Carnival Elation and Carnival Liberty also sailed in on Thursday.
One cruise ship, the Carnival Ecstasy, was diverted from its original destination in Jacksonville while the port there recovers from Dorian. The Port Authority had to use a cargo berth to move ships around.
Passengers onboard the Royal Caribbean Harmony of the Seas said the cruise line re-routed them away from the storm and kept them safe.
“You never would have thought a hurricane was happening around us,” said passenger Candi Mercer. She said she only felt some slight rocking as the ship was coming into port and her daughter got sea sick. “Just like rocking, [like a] water bed.”
One ship visited the Bahamas just days before Dorian hit the islands.
”We went through the same thing two years ago and just recently because it just passed the Virgin Islands so we are familiar with it and my heart goes out to them,” said passenger Amelisa Toban.
“We were just praying for the people there, praying that the hurricane would bypass the Bahamas and keep everyone safe,” said passenger Bob Shnider.
Port Canaveral pilots and the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office Marine Unit assessed the harbor and waterways Wednesday before the U.S. Coast Guard reopened them.
Port Director and CEO Captain John Murray said the port only had minor damage like broken gutters and debris. He said it was a relatively smooth process to get the port up and running again.
“We were in contact with the cruise lines from the time the port was shut down and communicating with them on which ship would come in first,” Murray said.
Murray said they are eager to the cruise schedules back on track and to get more fuel in for the cruise ships on Friday.
“One of the challenges is that we did draw down all of the number six fuel because they were taking full fuel before they left for the hurricane so we’re anxious to get that fuel.”