(NEW YORK) — It’s been one of the most difficult weeks in memory for travelers. Nearly 20,000 flight cancellations, hotels that are flooded and shuttered, cruise ships stranded at sea. But a few days after Hurricane Sandy, travelers are beginning to travel once again.
While air travel is by no means back to normal (600-plus flights were cancelled Thursday, but that’s far from the nearly 8,000 cancelled Tuesday and Wednesday), all three New York metropolitan airports — JFK, LaGuardia and Newark — are open. Other previously shuttered airports in the Northeast are also open to flights.
“Barring any unforeseen airport damage or operational issues like staff getting to the airport, road warriors should pretty much be back in business on Monday,” said Rick Seaney, CEO of Fare Compare. “The trend in cancellations since Oct. 29 is a hockey stick in the downward direction.”
Amtrak, too, is beginning to move. Starting Thursday, there is modified Northeast Regional service between Boston and New Haven, Conn., and between Newark, N.J., and points south. Amtrak will also operate shuttle service trains between Springfield, Mass., and New Haven; Keystone Service trains between Harrisburg, Penn., and Philadelphia; and Downeaster service trains between Boston and Portland, Maine, along with additional overnight services to and from the Northeast.
Amtrak is also taking reservations for modified service between New York City and points south, including Trenton and Philadelphia.
And the cruisers aboard the Norwegian Gem who were forced to stay at sea when the Port of New York closed the day they were scheduled to return from a nine-day cruise? They were given the option to leave the ship in Boston on Wednesday. Vanessa Lane, a Norwegian Cruise Line spokesperson, said 50 percent opted to leave. The others returned to sea and will wait until New York’s port re-opens to end their trips. The cruise line thinks that could be on Friday, Nov. 2.
Ericka Nelson, general manager of The Muse New York, said the hotel’s been completely sold out since Saturday. Only now are guests starting to travel home. “In some cases they’re renting cars, a few are getting on flights.” But, she noted, “now we’re focused on getting those rooms to locals who need a place to stay.”
Orbitz, the travel booking website, reported a 15 percent increase in hotel bookings in New York City this week as compared with last week. In Washington, D.C., bookings were up a whopping 68 percent.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Susan Scutti, CNN
Paul Menser, BizMojo Idaho
Ivaylo Vezenkov and Lauren del Valle, CNN