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Cruise ship carrying newlywed Utah couple rerouted due to Hurricane Harvey

SALT LAKE CITY — Two newlywed Utah State University students are in for a longer than expected honeymoon thanks to Hurricane Harvey, but they will miss the beginning of their fall semester classes.

Zachary and Michelle Nelson were on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship that has been rerouted to Miami rather than arriving home as they initially planned to do Sunday. But are keeping the change of plans in perspective.

"Its kind of a little bit alarming to see (that) we're just in Houston and now it's so flooded and everything," Michelle Nelson said. "But luckily, the cruise ship has been really on top of it in keeping us behind the storm and keeping us in a safe place, so we haven't had to worry about if we were going to get caught in a hurricane or anything like that."

The couple got married in Salt Lake City on Aug. 18 and boarded their cruise on Aug. 20. For the most part, they said, the waters on the cruise have mostly been calm and the weather has been beautiful at their destinations in Mexico and Honduras. There was one exception: A particularly rocky night they encountered early in the excursion before Harvey had reached hurricane strength.

"It was rough, it was raining, but it was at night so we slept through a lot of it and it passed,” Zachary Nelson said.

The cruise ship crews made a go at docking Sunday morning, getting within 8 miles of its port at Galveston, Texas, but ultimately the ship had to turn away because of bad weather, the Nelsons said.

"You could hardly see the city. You could just see the outlines of buildings. … There was maybe an opportunity for us to get there, but the port's closed and apparently people can't get in and out of Galveston," Zachary Nelson said.

The Nelsons' ship is expected to arrive in Miami on Tuesday. They said they will try to get a flight home from there as soon as possible, but they added that many of the cruise passengers, who are from Texas, will be staying on the ship until Friday, when it is expected to arrive back in Galveston.

Zachary Nelson said some of their fellow cruise passengers will have to see whether the cars they drove to Galveston "are still there" when they return. Still, he said, "they're grateful that they weren't in the storm."

"I think they're grateful that they were behind it and not living it," he said.

Classes begin tomorrow at USU for fall semester, but Zachary, a mechanical engineering major, and Michelle, who is studying family psychology, have been reassured by their professors that they won't fall too far behind.

"They've just been saying, 'Don't worry about it, when you get back talk to us, there's stuff you can watch and we'll record our lectures.' So (it's no) worries as long as (we) get back somewhat soon," Zachary Nelson said.

The couple has been watching news reports about Hurricane Harvey's widespread destruction, which has put their own, much lesser inconvenience in its place, they said.

"It's just been alarming to see the destruction that's happened in Texas, and we definitely feel for them. … Our thoughts and prayers are with them (and) we hope that everything turns out OK," Zachary Nelson said. "We hope that the damage is minimal and the people's lives are safe. That's the most important thing."

Contributing: Nicole Vowell