(4:50 p.m.) -- Hurricane Emily, which pounded Mexico's Yucatan peninsula earlier this week, today battered the Gulf Coast along the U.S.-Mexico border, "knocking down trees, kicking up huge waves and forcing entire villages to evacuate" according to Reuters.
Upcoming departures from Houston/Galveston will most likely not be affected; Emily is currently a Category One storm, and though a hurricane warning is in effect for northeastern Mexico, tropical storm warnings for Texas are likely to be discontinued or downgraded later this afternoon.
Western Caribbean cruise ports visited by Emily earlier this week seem to have lucked out, and are reporting minimal damage to tourism facilities.
According to a spokeswoman for the island, hotels and downtown restaurants are open, and major damage and debris (such as downed trees) has been cleaned up; removal of minor debris is expected to be 100 percent complete by Monday.
Carnival canceled yesterday's calls in Cozumel, but the line is resuming scheduled visits to the island today, as is Royal Caribbean.
Note: Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas, which departed Miami on Sunday, is sailing a modified itinerary this week, heading to the Eastern Caribbean instead of Western. The ship will call at San Juan, St. Maarten, St. Thomas and Nassau instead of Belieze, Costa Maya, Cozumel and Grand Cayman.
It's business as usual in Grand Cayman. Only wet and windy weather met the folks here, a blessing after last year's significant damage from Hurricane Ivan's visit. According to a statement from the Cayman Islands' tourism department, the islands "were very fortunate to be spared the potential devastating effects from a very serious storm." Port calls should not be affected from this point due to Emily.
Emily left 167 families homeless in Grenada and 2,641 roofs damaged according to a statement on the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Response Agency's Web site. However, and gratefully, this is nowhere near the devastation that befell the island last year, also from Ivan. The Grenada Board of Tourism anticipates that all public utilities will be restored within a day or two, and assures us tourist sites and attractions like hotels, restaurants and dive sites are all up and running.
We have not yet received word on whether or not port facilities are operational, and if ships will be visiting as planned. We'll keep you posted.
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Ships Return to Cozumel After Emily
July 20, 2005