|(c) 2011 NASA|
As Hurricane Irene, the first named hurricane of the season, moved through Hispaniola on Monday with 75 mph winds, its track has shifted northerly and away from the mountainous terrain that could have played havoc with its winds. That's not good for residents or cruisers in the Category One storm's path. It's now taking aim at the Turks & Caicos and Bahamas, and experts anticipate Irene will become a more powerful Category Two storm with 100-110 mph winds before hitting south and central Florida late Thursday and into Friday.
Cruise lines are racing to re-route their ships on eastern Caribbean itineraries. Carnival Cruise Lines (www.goccl.com) is adapting the itinerary for Carnival Miracle. That ship spent yesterday at sea in lieu of San Juan, and will spend today at Grand Turk instead of St. Thomas and Tuesday at Half Moon Cay instead of Grand Turk.
Carnival Conquest, originally set to call this week at Nassau and Freeport in the Bahamas, as well as Key West, FL, (on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday respectively), will now call at Costa Maya, Cozumel and Progreso, Mexico on those days.
In addition, Carnival Liberty will call at Grand Turk today, instead of being at sea. Carnival spokesman Vance Gulliksen added, "we're evaluating the remainder of the itinerary" for that ship.
In addition, John Heald, the line's senior cruise director, told his Facebook page fans that the Port of San Juan ordered all ships to leave as it was closing over the weekend. So the Carnival Victory -- which embarks its guests in that port -- had to sail earlier than advertised and, unfortunately, some guests planning to embark had to be left behind.
"One or two contacted me via email and here on Facebook, and I wanted to sincerely apologize to you all," Heald said. "But we had no choice, the port was closed and all ships had to leave." Heald also said the line was working to get these guests on flights to Barbados, where they can hopefully meet up with the ship.
Gulliksen also confirmed the line cancelled Carnival Victory's St. Thomas call today; the ship is now en route to Barbados for its scheduled call on Wednesday. Carnival also said it's still evaluating the rest of that ship's itinerary.
Royal Caribbean (www.cruisingpower.com) has changed four itineraries this week thus far, including that of its two largest ships, Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas.
Oasis will now sail a reversed itinerary, visiting Cozumel, Mexico today, Falmouth, Jamaica on Wednesday; and Labadee, Haiti on Thursday. Allure will spend a day at sea today instead of calling at Nassau, Bahamas, and move that call to Saturday, the rest of the ship's itinerary is unchanged.
In addition, Freedom of the Seas and Serenade of the Seas will also sail reversed itineraries. Freedom will visit Cozumel on Tuesday, then Grand Cayman on Wednesday, Falmouth on Thursday and Labadee on Friday. Serenade will call at Aruba on Tuesday, Curacao on Wednesday, St. Kitts on Friday and St. Thomas on Saturday.