|One Royal Caribbean ship was re-routed over the weekend. // Photo by Susan J. Young|
Cruise lines are closely monitoring two tropical storms this week, as the tropical disturbance (called Invest 99L) has re-emerged in the Gulf of Mexico as a stronger storm and may become a "named" storm as early as today.
According to the U.S. National Weather Service, the storm is moving slowly and will most likely head northward and to the east, possibly back across the Florida Peninsula, somewhere in central or northern Florida; Port Tampa Bay lies within that potential strike zone although it's too early to project exactly what track the storm will take or its intensity at landfall.
Separately, Tropical Storm Gaston re-energized in the Atlantic Ocean and is now Hurricane Gaston. It's located approximately 575 miles east of Bermuda with maximum sustained winds of 115 mph.
Hurricane Gaston is rated as a category 3 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale although weakening is forecast during the next 48 hours.
Late last week, Royal Caribbean International adjusted the schedule for Empress of the Seas' four-night cruise roundtrip from Miami. It called on CocoCay Friday as planned, but then called at Nassau on Saturday, rather than spending a day at sea.
It also skipped a planned port call at Key West on Sunday and instead spent the day at sea. The ship arrived back in Miami as planned this morning.
Owen Torres, a Royal Caribbean spokesman, told Travel Agent that the line has no additional schedule changes right now, but is "currently monitoring the path and progress of the tropical disturbance in the Caribbean to ensure our guests enjoy a safe and comfortable cruise. We will contact guests or their travel agents should we make any additional modifications to upcoming itineraries."
Several itineraries were also changed for Carnival Cruise Line. On Carnival Valor's August 19 sailing from Port Canaveral, the ship spent a day at sea instead of calling at Grand Turk August 25, and replaced its August 26 sea day with a call at Nassau. Carnival Freedom, which was sailing a seven-day cruise from Galveston, spent a day at sea instead of calling at Key West August 29, and will replace its August 30 Freeport and August 31 Nassau calls with stops at Montego Bay and Grand Cayman, respectively. The ship will stop at Cozumel September 1 instead of spending that day at sea. Finally, Carnival Dream, which sailed from New Orleans August 28 on a seven-day itinerary, will replace its Key West, Freeport and Nassau calls scheduled for August 30 through September 1 with calls at Cozumel August 30, Costa Maya August 31 and Mahogany Bay September 1.
Travel Agent has requested updates from other lines as well and will post them here when received. Keep visiting www.travelagentcentral.com for further details.