Cruise Passengers Disembark to Find Their Cars Flooded

Carnival passengers are upset after storm raged through Charleston while they were at sea
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 22, 2023 12:30 PM CST
They Returned From Cruise to a Most Unpleasant Surprise
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/Doctor_bass)

No one ever wants their vacation to end, but for a group of recent Carnival passengers, their arrival back on terra firma served up an extra dollop of angst. Charleston City Paper reports that a nor'easter swept through downtown Charleston on Sunday, flooding the parking lot owned by South Carolina's State Ports Authority with salt water—meaning many who'd parked there to go on the cruise aboard the Carnival Sunshine disembarked Monday to find quite a mess on their hands when it came to their vehicles.

"Honestly, we've never seen anything like it," Stephanie Royal of Brevard, North Carolina, tells WCSC. "Everybody had their hoods up, it was crazy." She says people's cars weren't starting, and that when she and her husband finally got to their own car, "the water had come up at least 3 to 4 feet" and flooded it as well. This, Royal says, came after a rough cruise in stormy weather, and at a time when the couple didn't have much charge left on their cellphones to arrange for help. The Royals eventually left their totaled car in the lot, renting another vehicle to make the trip home to Brevard.

The SPA estimates that about 400 vehicles, or two-fifths of the ones left in the lot during the cruise, were impacted by the inclement weather, per the Post and Courier—but the agency says it's not assuming any liability for what happened. "There are signs indicating that parking is at their own risk," a spokeswoman says. In a statement to WCSC, the SPA says port police and staff "worked closely with passengers to provide assistance from the moment they arrived until the last passenger departed the terminal," including by helping with reports needed for insurance purposes, making calls to tow companies, and arranging for alternate transportation when needed. Some passengers are upset with Carnival for not giving them a heads-up about the storm.

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"Absolutely no way they didn't know a port had suffered that much damage," passenger Shannon Moody noted to the Post and Courier, adding that the cruise line "could have given passengers some warning to have made some arrangements versus being stranded for four to five hours." A Carnival rep said, per WCSC: "We assisted in some ways where we could, for instance with helping guests connect with their insurance providers, but ultimately this was not our facility." (More Carnival Cruise Lines stories.)

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