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'A tremendous challenge:' Work underway in Norfolk to prepare for cruise ship re-routed from Baltimore

Cruise ship scheduled to arrive in Norfolk march 31
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Posted at 5:00 PM, Mar 27, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-27 19:48:07-04

NORFOLK, Va. — From the air, Norfolk’s cruise terminal may look ready to handle a ship like the 963-foot, 2,100-plus guest Carnival Legend.

But that doesn't mean the ship can dock at any time.

As of Mar. 27, the ship was scheduled to arrive in Norfolk Mar. 31 at the end of a cruise. Originally destined for Baltimore, it was being diverted because of the deadly bridge collapse.

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“This is a tremendous challenge," said Nauticus Executive Director Stephen Kirkland.

Nauticus operates the Half Moone Cruise Terminal in Norfolk.

Bringing in a ship requires planning and coordination. Kirkland said Wednesday afternoon he had been on the phone with Carnival since 6 a.m. Tuesday trying to figure out what to do.

"This is a community effort. Customs and Border Protection, our stevedore services locally, the entire maritime industry has come together to pull this off. On Easter Sunday, no less," said Kirkland. "So we're going to do what we can as a community to support our friends at Carnival and we're thinking about our friends in Baltimore."

At the same time, a roughly year-long renovation to prepare the city for year-round cruises was getting ready to start.

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"There's a lot that we've had to rearrange in the terminal. As you can imagine, we were preparing for a construction project," Kirkland explained.

The cruise and the people it brings could be good for the area’s economy, though.

“It impacts the city tremendously," said Visit Norfolk President & CEO Kurt Krause when asked how a cruise coming impacts the city.

Visit Norfolk works to promote tourism in the city. Krause said, like Kirkland, he had been busy working to figure out how the city can help the cruise passengers.

“From 7 a.m. (Tuesday) on, I've been in touch with my counterpart in Baltimore, with the port authority here, and with the cruise terminal folk," Krause emphasized. "This catastrophe in Baltimore is a great example of how our cities come together to assist Baltimore."

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He said notes will be taken by everybody involved so they can be as prepared as possible for future events.

Carnival is offering to bus any of the passengers on the cruise coming in Mar. 31 back to Baltimore. The Legend will then leave Norfolk that same day for another cruise that was scheduled to leave that day from Baltimore. Carnival said passengers on that cruise had been informed of the change.