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Carnival Pride will arrive back in Baltimore early Saturday

The Carnival Pride cruise ship will arrive back at the Port of Baltimore on Saturday, a day earlier than scheduled, in an effort to avoid Hurricane Irene.

Passengers will begin debarkation from the ship at 7 a.m. Afterwards, the cruise ship will be positioned at an alternate location on the bay as directed by the U.S. Coast Guard, where it will ride out the storm, said Jennifer de la Cruz, a spokesperson for Carnival Cruise Lines.

Carnival sails year-round from the Port of Baltimore and another cruise was set to depart on Sunday. But that cruise will now leave on Monday.

De La Cruz said passengers from both cruises will be issued a pro-rated one-day refund for the missed day of the cruise.

After changing its itinerary to make two of three scheduled port calls, the Carnival Pride on Thursday escalated its speed to stay ahead of Irene.

A spokesperson for Carnival Cruise Lines said the cruise ship, which departed Baltimore on Sunday with 2,600 passengers, is "well ahead of the storm" and with increased speed, will be off the coast of the mid-Atlantic by late Friday.

 The ship made stops in Port Canaveral on Tuesday and Freeport on Wednesday. it was scheduled to be in Nassau today, but that port call was canceled.

Hurricane Irene has forced more than a dozen ships to re-route or change their itineraries. Some cruise lines have evacuated staff and employees from the private islands, mainly in the hard-hit Bahamas region, that serve as port calls.

Meanwhile, Royal Caribbean's Enchantment of the Seas set sail at 5 p.m. from Baltimore this afternoon on a nine-day cruise to the eastern Caribbean. A spokesperson for RCCL said no changes have been made to its itinerary or departure time.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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