NewsHillsborough County


Heavy fog leads to back ups at Port Tampa Bay; ships and passengers still waiting

Norwegian Pearl Port Tampa Bay
Posted at 6:04 PM, Dec 30, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-31 03:47:08-05

TAMPA, Fla. — Heavy fog in Tampa led to disruptions among cruise ships trying to get in and out of the Port Tampa Bay.

Even though it's now open and operating normally, passengers and cruises are still dealing with significant delays which could get worse with the Coast Guard expecting the fog to return tonight.

“Our number one concern is maritime safety and ensuring the safe transit of passengers,” said Cmdr. Bill Walsh, deputy commander Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg. “We are working closely with personnel from the Cooperative Vessel Traffic System, the Tampa Bay Pilots Association and other industry partners to monitor the weather, and to determine how and when we can facilitate commercial traffic. We expect the fog to return this evening thus reducing visibility and potentially causing additional closures within the ports of Tampa.”

The Coast Guard closed the port because visibility was under a mile, but later reopened it when the fog cleared. Still, the delay was enough to cause around 6,000 passengers to be displaced, according to a spokesperson for Port Tampa Bay.

Janie Hollerorth is waiting to leave on a 7-day Holland America Cruise, but she's been told they won't be boarding until between 9:30 and 11:30 p.m.

While she's disappointed, she says she's not surprised.

"It's not the first time it's happened, so it's not a total surprise," Hollerorth said.

A spokesperson for the port says Carnival and Royal Caribbean were the two cruise lines most impacted by the delays.

The Coast Guard urges all mariners to pay strict attention to the weather before getting underway especially during extreme fog and unpredictable weather conditions.