Editor's note: This article appeared in The Daily News' print addition today, but was inadvertently omitted from the online edition.
GALVESTON — Cruise ships that had been stuck at the Port of Galveston after a Saturday oil spill closed the Houston Ship Channel, were cleaned and cleared to sail Tuesday on delayed and truncated voyages. But hundreds of passengers chose not to leave with the ships.
The sailings began after U.S. Coast Guard officials agreed to reopen the Houston Ship Channel, with restrictions, and the ships’ hulls had been cleaned of oil and inspected.
At about 11:45 a.m. Tuesday, Carnival Magic sailed out of Galveston on a five-day cruise with calls in Grand Cayman and Cozumel. The original voyage was to have been a seven-day cruise scheduled to depart Sunday. Passengers who opted to proceed with the five-day cruise were receiving a two-day, prorated refund along with a 25 percent discount on a future cruise, spokesman Vance Guilliksen said. Initially, about 4,350 passengers were on the Carnival Magic, but about 930 chose not to sail on the shortened cruise, port officials say. Those who chose not to sail were offered a full refund, Guilliksen said.
Later Tuesday, the Carnival Triumph departed the island port. Triumph will operate a four-day cruise to Cozumel. It was originally scheduled to sail on a five-day voyage that was supposed to depart Monday. Guests who chose to sail on the shortened cruise are receiving a one-day prorated refund and a 25 percent discount on a future cruise.
As with the Carnival Magic scenario, those who chose not to sail were offered a full refund. Initially, about 3,150 passengers were on the Magic, but about 800 chose not to sail on the shortened cruise, port officials said.
Carnival ships are based year-round at the Port of Galveston. Carnival Magic operates seven-day cruises to the Caribbean and Carnival Triumph operates four- and five-day Mexico voyages.
Royal Caribbean International announced Monday night that its Navigator of the Seas’ cruise from Galveston had been canceled, but passengers would be allowed to stay onboard until Sunday and partake in food and entertainment. But port officials Tuesday evening said the Navigator planned to sail this morning. Typically, the Navigator, which sails year-round from the island, offers seven-night western Caribbean itineraries.
The ship channel was closed after more than 168,000 gallons of heavy fuel oil leaked from a damaged barge into Galveston Bay after a vessel collision Saturday near the Texas City Dike.