(Updated: 4:30 p.m.) -- Dennis, the fourth named storm of the Atlantic season, just gets stronger and stronger -- the system is barely below the threshold of Category Three intensity, and will likely reach it this evening. The storm is currently passing just to the northeast of Jamaica with maximum sustained winds of 110 miles per hour.
Cruise lines have moved ships out of harm's way; here are the most current updates:
Carnival Victory has scrapped Cozumel and Grand Cayman in favor of sea days and visits to Freeport and Nassau; the ship called safely in Ocho Rios on Wednesday.
Imagination will bypass Ocho Rios today and instead call in Cozumel.
Carnival Conquest will skip Grand Cayman today and arrive in Cozumel a day earlier than planned and overnight there.
This week's Carnival Glory voyage will skip a call in Progresso and has already skipped a call in Key West in favor of two extra sea days.
Explorer of the Seas will remain at sea today and tomorrow in place of Cozumel and Grand Cayman, and call in Nassau on Saturday before returning to Miami as scheduled on Sunday.
Empress of the Seas will also remain at sea today in place of a visit to Costa Maya, and call at Nassau tomorrow before returning to Port Everglades tomorrow as scheduled.
Mariner of the Seas will remain at sea today and tomorrow in place of Grand Cayman and Cozumel, and call in Nassau on Saturday before returning to Port Canaveral as scheduled on Sunday; Mariner called in Ocho Rios yesterday.
Rhapsody of the Seas will be calling in Cozumel today and Progresso tomorrow in place of Grand Cayman and Cozumel, and spending a day at sea Saturday before returning to Galveston on Sunday as scheduled.
Other cruise lines with ships in the area, such as NCL, have told us they are keeping a close eye on the storm but have not yet altered itineraries. Princess tells us that Caribbean Princess is safely berthed in Cozumel and is expected to depart and arrive in Port Everglades on schedule ahead of the storm.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a hurricane warning is in effect for Jamaica, Haiti and the Cayman Islands. A hurricane watch has been issued for the Florida Keys, and a tropical storm watch called for Florida's southern peninsula; Dennis is expected to reach Florida within the next 36 hours. Various parts of central and eastern Cuba are also under hurricane watches and warnings. On a more positive note, a previously issued tropical storm warning for the Dominican Republic was discontinued last night.
The tourism department of the Cayman Islands, which suffered heartbreaking damage last year at the hands of Hurricane Ivan, has issued a statement regarding an impending visit from Dennis: "Hurricane Dennis is now following a northwest track and is not expected to pass directly over the Cayman Islands. However, the system continues to intensify and should be a Category Three hurricane when it passes north of the Islands early Friday. The Cayman Islands Government is taking all necessary precautions."
We'll continue to monitor the storm, and keep you posted. Check back with Cruise Critic's news for additional changes.
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Dennis Nearing Jamaica, Affecting Some Itineraries
July 7, 2005