New Jersey

Major Snowstorm Delays Cruise Ship's Return to Baltimore

For the passengers on a cruise ship heading back to snowy Baltimore from the Bahamas, one more day at sea doesn't sound like such a bad idea.

The Maryland Department of Transportation said Friday that a blizzard means the port won't be ready for the Royal Caribbean International's Grandeur of the Seas until Monday. The ship was to return Sunday from an eight-day trip to the Bahamas, said Cynthia Martinez, a Royal Caribbean spokeswoman. But plans changed after forecasters said the storm could dump more than 2 feet of snow.

Meg Ryan of Hamilton, New Jersey, one of the cruise ship's passengers, said she learned about 1 p.m. Friday of the postponement from the cruise line's website.

"I was not totally surprised and, frankly, happy to be delayed," Ryan wrote in an email to The Associated Press. "First, it is an extra day of vacation, but more importantly, safety comes first and travel Sunday would be difficult, if not impossible."

Ryan, 51, is an assistant manager of a luggage store in New Jersey. She is also a Master Cruise Counsellor, a certification from the trade organization Cruise Lines International Association. She works with a company called eCruisenet, which provides consulting services to passengers planning trips. Ryan said she was traveling with a group of eCruisenet clients.

Ryan said she expected the cruise line will have activities to entertain passengers, and the shops and casino will be open, "ready to separate guests from their money."

On the downside, Ryan said passengers were trying to rebook transportation from Baltimore to their homes. Also, the Grandeur of the Seas was to begin another cruise Sunday to the western Caribbean, so a fresh set of passengers will grapple with a delay. Ryan said the cruise line was helping passengers returning to Baltimore with free calls and Internet access; she took a photo of a line of people waiting to make calls.

Still, an on-board indoor solarium and pool presented an idyllic contrast to what awaited Ryan at home.

"I will return to Hamilton (near Trenton), N.J., to 2 feet of snow, and probably an irate cat, who I am sure will not be happy that I am delayed," she wrote.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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