NEW ORLEANS, LA — Tropical storm Harvey continues to soak the south on Tuesday, after leaving behind a record breaking catastrophic flooding in Texas.
Harvey’s current path may be 200 miles away from New Orleans, but hundreds of Filipino crewmen aboard Carnival freedom are among the thousands of passengers and crew stranded in the big easy on Tuesday.
Carnival cruise lines re-routed nearly 15,000 passengers aboard three cruise ships to New Orleans while their destination port in Galveston, Ttexas remains closed due to Hurricane Harvey.
“Para sa mga kababayan ko diyan sa pilipinas, huwag kayong mag-alala kami naman ay ok dito, nasu-survive naman namin ang aming pang-araw-araw na pangangailangan at gawain kaya saludo tayo sa OFW,” said galley steward Alvin Lopez.
In a statement, Carnival spokesperson said passengers were allowed to disembark in New Oorleans if they wish to make their own plans to return home. Otherside, they can wait out aboard the ships until it’s safe to make their way back to Galveston in the next few days.
“Meron bumaba, yung iba, meron pa ring nag-stay, sasama sila sa amin hanggang galveston ngayon Saturday,” said Mark Gallardo.
Fewer passengers mean less income in the form of tips for many of these Filipino crewmen especially those who work as hospitality staff.
“Para sa akin, sa aming mga waiter, apekted kami kasi yung sahod, based on sa pasahero,” said Roel Bayo, a cruise ship waiter.
But for some Filipinos, this detour turned out to be an unplanned mini-vacation in the big easy.
“Mas napaganda pa po nung napunta kami dun, kasi sa galveston malayo po yung mall, walang bilihan, Filipino store lang, Starbucks,” said Gallardo. “Saka bago sa paningin namin.”
With only two hours to spare outside the cruise ship, this one stop Filipino shop is a big help to these overseas Filipino workers especially when it comes to sending money to their loved ones or just having an authentic Filipino meal.
And back on board, they wait, looking for the green light to finally sail for Galveston, Texas.
“Sabi kasi ng kapitan, kahapon, magda-dock nga kami kaninang umaga, tapos hanggang bukas nga kami, so titingnan pa nila kung bukas aalis kami… sa dagat pa rin kami, hindi pa rin kami makapagdock sa Galveston dahil baha nga. Ngayong Saturday kung ok na, pwede na kami mag dock sa Galveston.”
Officials at the port of Galveston believe the port will remain closed until the end of this week.