Tom Stieghorst
Tom Stieghorst

There are good reasons why South Florida is the cruise capital of the world, and one of them is that fog is very rare.

Your cruise might start or end in a downpour, but it is hardly ever stymied by thick gray mist that shuts down visibility and makes travel unsafe.

I thought of that after learning that Houston will once again lose the two cruise ships that have homeported there for the past three years. Starting in 2016, Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Jade is headed for Tampa, while Princess Cruises’ Caribbean Princess opts for Fort Lauderdale.

There are several reasons for the changes, but it can’t have helped the cause that Houston’s ship channel is periodically socked in, especially in the winter months. Warm air meeting cool baywater has delayed ship arrivals and departures in Houston for up to a day.

Fog also bedevils nearby Galveston, but not as much because it is closer to open water. When fog settles over South Florida, it generally dissipates quickly. But in southern Texas, it can linger for hours.

Starting in 2016 when the Caribbean Princess sails from Fort Lauderdale, it should avoid problems such as the 2013 season, when it was delayed in Houston three times in two months by fog.

The Norwegian Jade might not be so fortunate on the fog front. Tampa, like Houston, has had its issues with fog delays. In February, a smothering fog off Tampa Bay delayed the arrival of Royal Caribbean’s Brilliance of the Seas, and then forced cancellation of a follow-on cruise.

Fog has also been an issue for cruises sailing from New Orleans.

So to the list of advantages that South Florida enjoys — including proximity to the Bahamas and the Caribbean, large airports and well-developed terminals and infrastructure — add freedom from fog.

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