(1:00 p.m. EDT) -- Hurricane Bill continues to surge through the Western Atlantic, albeit in slightly weakened form. The National Hurricane Center forecasts that the center of the now-Category Three storm will pass between Bermuda and the U.S. East Coast early Saturday morning.
A hurricane watch and a tropical storm warning, issued yesterday by the Bermuda Weather Service, are still in effect, meaning that tropical storm conditions are expected in the area within the next 24 hours, and hurricane conditions are possible. Cruise lines have altered itineraries in anticipation of the storm.
According to the 11 a.m. advisory from the NHC, Hurricane Bill has maximum sustained winds of 115 miles per hour -- down from a high of 125 m.p.h. yesterday -- and is currently located about 335 miles south-southwest of Bermuda and about 755 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.
Cruise Ship Itinerary Changes
Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas, which departed Cape Liberty yesterday (Thursday), will sail a revised itinerary that will visit San Juan on Sunday; St. Maarten on Monday; St. Thomas on Tuesday; and Kings Wharf, Bermuda, on Thursday.
Carnival Glory, which is nearing the end of a seven-night Caribbean sailing, stayed at sea Wednesday, rather than visiting regularly scheduled St. Maarten. The ship also skipped its planned sea day Thursday and, instead, called in Grand Turk. No other Carnival ships have been affected yet, and Carnival Triumph, Carnival Miracle and Carnival Pride, sailing from the U.S. this weekend, are expected to depart on schedule.
Norwegian Cruise Line slightly altered schedules for its current Bermuda sailings on Norwegian Dawn and Norwegian Majesty, both of which departed Bermuda a bit early -- 5 p.m. -- Thursday. No changes have yet been made to weekend itineraries for Norwegian Dawn, Norwegian Majesty or Norwegian Spirit, which are all scheduled to sail Bermuda voyages from the United States' East Coast during the coming week. A notice on NCL's Web site says Norwegian Spirit will depart as scheduled from Boston on Friday but may arrive in Bermuda later than scheduled, depending on what Bill brings.
Weather Outlook: Next Affected Ships & Ports
The NHC is forecasting that Bill could strengthen over the next 24 hours, possibly regaining its Category Four status. Islands in the Eastern Caribbean are experiencing large swells, and Bermuda, the East Coast of the United States and the Atlantic Maritimes of Canada may begin to feel the effects of the storm in the next few days. Predictions say Bill could dump up to five inches of rain on Bermuda and may also cause rough weather and surf in Puerto Rico, Hispaniola and the Bahamas. (See above for impacted itineraries.)
The NHC's "five-day cone," a map that outlines the possible movement of the storm over the next five days, shows Hurricane Bill passing over Nova Scotia on Sunday and the eastern coast of Newfoundland on Monday morning. Holland America's Eurodam and Maasdam, and Princess Cruises' Tahitian Princess are scheduled to be in the area next week -- just after Bill's currently scheduled arrival -- but it's still too early to tell if cruises will be impacted.
--by Ashley Kosciolek, Copy Editor
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Hurricane Bill Weakens Again, No New Itinerary Changes
August 21, 2009