Cruise Lines Adjust Itineraries as Cat-5 Hurricane Irma Approaches

Carnival
Carnival Cruise Line has adjusted schedules for four ships departing from Miami, Port Everglades, Port Canaveral and Baltimore, MD. Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and MSC Cruises have each adjusted the schedule for one of their ships.

Now a powerful Category 5 hurricane churning in the Atlantic Ocean and approaching the Caribbean's Leeward Islands, Hurricane Irma is on a path to hit the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico this week and potentially Florida or other parts of the Southeast or East Coast this weekend and into early next week. 

The "cone" of impact is uncertain at this time, but Floridians are making hurricane preparations. On Sunday, Florida's Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency for the Sunshine State.

Three cruise lines have already adjusted itineraries of seven voyages in progress this week. Carnival Cruise Line has adjusted the itineraries of four ships that departed over the past few days from Miami, Port Everglades, Port Canaveral and Baltimore.

Similarly, Royal Caribbean International adjusted Allure of the Seas' schedule for the September 3 departure, and Celebrity Cruises adjusted the current itinerary of Celebrity Equinox to a more westerly path in the Caribbean. MSC Cruises also shifted MSC Divina to the western Caribbean. 

None of the lines has issued any itinerary changes for upcoming voyages departing this weekend. Here's a look at the changes for voyages already under way this week:

Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises

Royal Caribbean has 12 voyages departing either from Florida ports or East Coast cities this weekend. The line's chief meteorologist, James Van Fleet, is monitoring the storm and posting updates on Twitter (@jamesvanfleet) twice daily. 

On Monday, he tweeted that passengers for Empress of the Seas' departure a few days ago from Miami were  "good to go" for that vessel's short voyage from South Florida to Cuba and Key West. He noted that the ship will sail there and back prior to the storm.

In a statement, the line also provided this update:

"Given the storm's location and progression, it was necessary to alter our scheduled itineraries for [the current voyages under way by] Allure of the Seas and Celebrity Equinox.

Allure of the Seas Promenade Editorial Use Only Copyright Susan J Young
Grand Promenade on Allure of the Seas // Photo by Susan J. Young

"Allure of the Seas' eastern Caribbean itinerary was altered to a western Caribbean itinerary when the ship departed Port Everglades on Sunday, Sept. 3. (The ship's Grand Promenade is shown in the photo above by Susan J. Young.) 

"Celebrity Equinox's itinerary was also modified to stay at a safe distance away from the storm.

The line is posting twice daily updates on its Web site at this link: http://www.royalcaribbean.com/beforeyouboard/itineraryUpdates.do?cS=NAVBAR&pnav=3&snav=10 and frequent updates on its Facebook page. 

Again, no changes have yet been made for any upcoming Royal Caribbean or Celebrity voyages that have not yet sailed.

On his most recent Twitter update, Van Fleet indicated that Wednesday, September 6, will be the day when the cruise company will decide about any potential changes to itineraries departing this weekend; guests will also be notified on Wednesday. 

Carnival Cruise Line Changes

Here's a look at the existing schedule and revised schedule for four Carnival ships already sailing this week:

Carnival Glory (seven-day cruise from Miami)

Revised Itinerary                               Original Itinerary

Sept. 2 – Miami                                 Sept. 2 – Miami

Sept. 3 – At Sea                                Sept. 3 – Half Moon Cay

Sept. 4 – Grand Cayman                   Sept. 4 – At Sea

Sept. 5 – Mahogany Bay (Roatan)     Sept. 5 – St. Thomas

Sept. 6 – Belize                                  Sept. 6 – San Juan

Sept. 7 – Cozumel                              Sept. 7- Grand Turk

Sept. 8 – At Sea                                 Sept. 8 – At Sea

Sept. 9 – Miami                                  Sept. 9 – Miami

Carnival Magic (six-day cruise from Port Canaveral)

Revised Itinerary                                       Original Itinerary

Sept. 3 – Port Canaveral                            Sept. 3 – Port Canaveral

Sept. 4 – At Sea                                         Sept. 4 – Nassau

Sept. 5 – Cozumel                                      Sept. 5 – At Sea

Sept. 6 – Belize                                          Sept. 6 – Amber Cove (D.R) 

Sept. 7 – Costa Maya                                 Sept. 7- Grand Turk

Sept. 8 – At Sea                                         Sept. 8 – At Sea

Sept. 9 – Port Canaveral                            Sept. 9 – Port Canaveral

Carnival Splendor (six-day cruise from Port Everglades)

Revised Itinerary                                       Original Itinerary

Sept. 3 – Port Everglades                          Sept. 3 – Port Everglades

Sept. 4 – At Sea                                         Sept. 4 – Nassau

Sept. 5 – Cozumel                                     Sept. 5 – Half Moon Cay

Sept. 6 – Mahogany Bay (Roatan)  Sept. 6 – Grand Turk

Sept. 7 – Belize                                          Sept. 7- Amber Cove, D.R. 

Sept. 8 – At Sea                                          Sept. 8 – At Sea

Sept. 9 – Port Everglades                            Sept. 9 – Port Everglades

Carnival Pride (seven-day cruise from Baltimore)

Revised Itinerary                                        Original Itinerary

Sept. 3 – Baltimore                                     Sept. 3 – Baltimore

Sept. 4 – At Sea                                          Sept. 4 – At Sea

Sept. 5 – Charleston                                    Sept. 5 – At Sea

Sept. 6 – Freeport                                        Sept. 6 – Grand Turk

Sept. 7 – Nassau                                          Sept. 7- Half Moon Cay

Sept. 8 – At Sea                                           Sept. 8 – At Sea

Sept. 9 – At Sea                                           Sept. 9 – At Sea

Sept. 10 - Baltimore                                     Sept.10 – Baltimore

No changes have yet been made for voyages departing this weekend. 

"We’re closely monitoring the path of Hurricane Irma and thus far we’ve made itinerary changes to four ships,” said Vance Gulliksen, a Carnival spokesperson. "The safety of our guests and crew is our first priority and we will continue to monitor and make adjustments as necessary."

MSC Cruises

In a statement, MSC Cruises said it doesn't expect any effects on future cruises, other than MSC Cruises' current cruise on MSC Divina, which is now sailing on a revised itinerary this week. Here's the new itinerary:

09/03/17: At Sea

09/04/17: Montego Bay (Jamaica)

09/05/17: Georgetown (Cayman Islands) - departing at 4 p.m.

09/06/17: Costa Maya (Mexico) - arriving at 10:30 a.m., departing at 5:30 p.m.

09/07/17: At Sea

09/08/17: At Sea

09/09/17: Miami - arriving at 7 a.m.

In its statement MSC Cruises said: "As the safety and security of our guests and crew is MSC Cruises’ number one priority, we are working closely with the relevant local authorities responsible for the monitoring of Hurricane Irma and are following the guidance provided by the U.S. Coast Guard."

The line says it will refund any shore trip add-ons that were cancelled when the port line-up changed. Guests will have the option to apply the credit to a new excursion in one of the added ports of call, or receive a refund. 

The line said guests with questions may contact its call center at 877-665-4655. In addition, it will post updates on its website -- www.msccruisesusa.com.

With multiple ports serving tens of thousands of cruisers a day, the impact of a direct hit by a major hurricane on Florida this weekend -- the peak time for Florida cruise turnarounds -- could be significant, not to mention the safety issues on land for both residents and cruise visitors. 

Stay tuned to www.travelagentcentral.com for the latest updates as they're received from the cruise lines.

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