'Better than not going anywhere': Diverted Caribbean cruise ship docks in Saint John

Saint John isn’t the Caribbean, but for 2,400 passengers originally bound for hot, sandy Caribbean beaches, it’ll do.

The Carnival Pride was sent to the city after Hurricane Irma changed its course

The Carnival Pride was originally supposed to make stops in the Caribbean, but passengers got to see some of the Maritimes, including Saint John, instead. (Matthew Bingley/CBC)

Saint John isn't the Caribbean, but for 2,400 passengers originally bound for hot, sandy Caribbean beaches, it'll do.

The city first got into the cruise ship business when stormy weather forced a ship to call at its port. So far this week, two ships have had similar luck.

We decided that we didn't care, we were going as a family and we were going to have fun and it was going to be a new experience.- Tammy Warner, cruise passenger

After the Carnival Pride set out from Baltimore, Hurricane Irma forced the ship to alter its route and head to the Maritimes. On Wednesday the ship docked in Halifax, before moving on to Saint John.

Kim Hughes laughed when it was pointed out his cruise hadn't taken him too far from his home in Woodbury, N.J.

"It's a little chilly, but we're fine," Hughes said, admitting he was disappointed not to be on a beach.

"We were supposed to be in Half Moon Cave in the eastern Caribbean, but they got hit pretty hard in regards to, you know, the hurricane."

Passengers like Kim Hughes, from New Jersey, were forced to abandon thoughts of beaches for the streets of Saint John. (Matthew Bingley/CBC )

Even without the voyage he had signed up for, Hughes said he was ready to see what Saint John had to offer.

So far, the Carnival Pride is the only ship to end up in Saint John because of a hurricane. Port Saint John spokesperson Paula Copeland said in an email that this hurricane season could see more surprise stops.

On Wednesday, the Mein Schiff 6 also made a call in Saint John. But Copeland said it was diverted by bad weather in the North Atlantic, not a hurricane.

Mein Schiff 6 and the Carnival Pride both carry 2,400 passengers and, according to Copeland, push the 2017 cruise ship tally up to 66.

Luckily for the passengers on the Carnival Pride, Saint John's weather, although not tropical, was still warm. Much to the relief of Tammy Warner's family.

2,400 passengers from the Carnival Pride spent the day in Saint John. It's the second ship to make a stop in the city because of bad weather this week. (Matthew Bingley/CBC )

The Baltimore resident said she found out on the Friday before the ship's Sunday voyage that the route had been changed. In preparation, Warner said her family had packed warm clothes.

She said she was pleased to see the sunny weather greeting them at port.

"We're very happy" Warner said. "Actually we're very pleasantly surprised."

Determined to enjoy

Rather than researching their new destination, Warner said her family opted to roll the dice.

"We decided that we didn't care, we were going as a family, and we were going to have fun, and it was going to be a new experience," she said.

After the brief taste of the Maritimes, Warner said her husband is looking into chances to return.

It is what it is; at least we got to come here.- Eugenia Glodzika, cruise passenger

"It is what it is; at least we got to come here," said Eugenia Glodzika ,onboard her motorized scooter.

The Myrtle Beach, S.C., resident said she was happy to escape any bad weather brought on by Hurricane Irma.

Glodzika said she and many other passengers had taken the change in the ship's itinerary in stride.

"It's better than not going anywhere," she said.

The added bonus of returning to a country where she once lived, also cheered her up.

"I love Canada," Glodzika said. "Lived here for a few months years ago."

Tony Tavolaro from North Brunswick, N.J., said he had been to Saint John before and liked it. To return on a cruise ship was a different story.

"Well, I wouldn't want to come back, but if we're here, we're here," he said.

About the Author

Matthew Bingley


Matthew Bingley is a CBC reporter based in Saint John.