After 2-day maintenance delay, Carnival Miracle leaves Tampa

- It was an unexpected extended stay in Tampa for hundreds of cruise ship passengers. The Carnival Miracle was scheduled to set sail for the Caribbean on Sunday, but maintenance work kept it in port until Tuesday night.

On a day passengers expected to see blue water outside their balconies, they had Harbour Island on the port side and Channelside on starboard.

"As far as I can tell, it's as if we are in the middle of the water," said Kevin Tyll of Brandon. "No rocking."

"It makes you feel like you're in a house," said Isabella Garcia.

Last week, passengers got the disappointing news that their seven-day cruise would be delayed two extra days in Port Tampa Bay due to "pre-emptive but necessary maintenance work," according to Carnival.

The cruise line never specified where the work was being done.

"A ship can't stay in the water forever without maintenance," said Tyler Chapman of Mount Dora. "The one thing that's killing everybody is that nobody knows what's going on with it. Everybody wants to know and nobody can find out."

"Carnival has done the best to accommodate us," said Jennifer Garcia, whose family drove from Lancaster, S.C.

As a trade-off, Carnival gave passengers a two-day prorated refund, a $200 onboard credit and free shuttles to Tampa attractions so they could make the most of their time on land.

"We actually booked and went out to Busch Gardens and they offered us free shuttles which was very nice," Jennifer Garcia said.

"And we saw some cousins here that we'd never seen in our lives," said David Garcia.

"We just decided to go ahead to Ybor right here, went ahead and saw Solo," Tyll said.

By 8 p.m. Tuesday, the sound of the horn was music to sea-loving passengers' ears and even attracted a crowd on land.

The 2,124-passenger Miracle is the second Carnival ship to make Tampa its home port year-round, bringing an expected $6 million more to Port Tampa Bay each year.

Though this was an unexpected stay, at least Tampa made an impression.

"We'll be coming back to do the aquarium," said Tyler Chapman.

"I wanna stay here forever," cheered his daughter, Callia.

Passengers who didn't want a shortened cruise could also cancel for a full refund or reschedule.

Though they won't get to see Belize or Honduras, they still can look forward to stops in Grand Cayman and Cozumel before returning to Tampa.

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