Travelers cruising to the Bahamas for Christmas vacations wound up in Boston instead


“We thought it was a joke.”

The MSC Meraviglia. Bernard Biger STX France

Travelers expecting a cruise to the sunny Bahamas this week wound up in chilly Boston instead.

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On Friday, the day before the MSC Meraviglia was set to depart from New York on a seven-day cruise to the Bahamas, the cruise ship alerted passengers that the itinerary had changed to Boston, Maine, and Canada due to bad weather.

“We have significantly altered the itinerary of your cruise due to adverse weather conditions expected across Florida and the Bahamas during the week ahead,” wrote the company in a letter to guests, which was posted by a Reddit user. “Heavy rain is expected across most of the destinations that we planned to visit, as well as wind gusts surpassing 40 knots which would render our maneuvers to enter destination ports unsafe.”

The company apologized for the inconvenience and said guests could cancel their cruise free of charge and receive a future cruise credit, according to the letter.

“The only alternative would have been to take the more extreme step of canceling the cruise — and thousands of people’s vacations — outright,” MSC told ABC, adding, “The complexities involved in obtaining last-minute berths for unplanned stops and provisioning the ship along its new route left sailing to Canada and New England as the only viable option.”

Chris Gray Faust, executive editor of Cruise Critic, a cruise ship review site, told ABC News that cruise lines usually have a “contract of carriage” clause, which means the itinerary is not guaranteed and the trip can change for reasons such as the weather.

The MSC Meraviglia, a 19-deck, 248 foot-tall ship that accommodates nearly 5,700 passengers, was in Boston from Sunday to Tuesday before heading to Portland, Maine on Wednesday and continuing on to St. John, Canada on Thursday, spending a day at sea on Friday, and then returning to New York City on Saturday, according to the new itinerary.

Girish Keswani from India found out about the itinerary change as he was boarding the ship, according to The Boston Globe.

“The guy helping us with our luggage said, ‘You’re going to Canada’ and we all laughed it off,” Keswani told the Globe. “We thought it was a joke.”

“I did not want to pay $5,000 [for my family] to come to Boston,” passenger Connie C. told the Globe. “This was supposed to be our Christmas vacation.”

Lakeya Allen planned the cruise to the Bahamas for nearly a year with her best friend.

“So this is some of my kids’ Christmas gifts,” Allen told “Good Morning America.” “[T]his was like, ‘Hey, you guys, you got to go to [the] Bahamas.’ We’re from Chicago, so we wanted to change the weather. I never fathomed that we will be back in cold weather.”

A Reddit user who planned the trip since August, wrote, “Not sure what to do. We have all of our holiday plans built around this cruise, lots of money, hotel bookings, airfare, etc. Really upset. In my 30 years of cruising, almost 50 sailings, this has NEVER EVER happened, with such a drastic change in itinerary with almost zero notice. Advice?”

Several Reddit users responded with advice.

“I can tell you this, I’m sitting on a drillship in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico and if the seas there are as bad as what we’re getting right now, you’ll be glad you didn’t sail in these seas,” wrote one Reddit user in response. “We’re currently getting 25ft waves and our rig is completely shut down. Winds gusting over 50mph and a ton of people are just staying in their rooms. It wouldn’t be a fun vacation being sea sick 75 percent of the time. I hope you can find some great things to do at your new port cities.”

A New Englander recommended activities in Boston such as the New England Aquarium, Boston Science Museum, and Boston Children’s Museum, as well as Faneuil Hall, adding, “Faneuil Hall is outdoors, so get some warm clothes first.”