Hurricane Katrina closes ports in Florida, alters cruise plans

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MIAMI -- With Tropical Storm Katrina looming, the U.S. Coast Guard halted vessel traffic in and out of the ports of Miami and Fort Lauderdale on Aug. 25 at 8 a.m.

Now a Category 1 hurricane, Katrina was packing maximum sustained winds of 75 mph as of the latest National Hurricane Center advisory.

With Katrina bearing down on Florida, several cruise lines altered their itineraries to avoid the storm.

Carnival Cruise Lines Imagination, which was scheduled to end a cruise in Miami on Aug. 25, will stay at sea two extra days and return to Miami on Aug. 27. The voyage that was originally scheduled to depart on Aug. 25 was converted into a two-day Bahamas cruise departing on Aug. 27; passengers will receive a 50% refund and a 50% future cruise credit.

Carnivals Fascination, which was to finish a cruise in Miami on Aug. 26 will stay at sea until Aug. 27; the voyage that was to depart on Aug. 26 was converted into a two-day Bahamas cruise departing on Aug. 27; passengers will receive a 35% refund and a 50% future cruise credit.

Royal Caribbean Internationals Empress of the Seas, meanwhile, will not return to Fort Lauderdale on Aug. 25 and will instead finish its cruise in Tampa. Passengers on the sailing will be bussed back to Fort Lauderdale -- passengers on the cruise that was to depart Aug. 25 from Fort Lauderdale will be bussed from Fort Lauderdale to the Empress in Tampa. The ship will return to Fort Lauderdale on Aug. 29 as scheduled.

In addition, Royal Caribbean's Majesty of the Seas, is now scheduled to return to Miami on Aug. 27, a day late. The ships Aug. 26 sailing was moved to Aug. 27 and shortened to a two-day cruise; passengers will receive a 50% refund and a $100 per-cabin onboard credit.

To contact reporter Rebecca Tobin, send e-mail to [email protected]  

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