(7:30 p.m. EDT) -- Hurricane Rick has weakened slightly in the Pacific, but it's still a very dangerous Category Five storm with maximum sustained winds of 160 miles per hour. The storm has prompted Carnival to change at least one of its ship's Mexican Riviera cruise itineraries.
According to the National Hurricane Center's 2 p.m. PDT (5 p.m. EDT) update, Rick is located some 450 miles south of the popular cruise port of Cabo San Lucas. Some slow weakening is expected over the next day or two. The NHC's five-day forecast (pictured right) has Rick making landfall over the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula by Wednesday. A hurricane watch may be required for southern portions of the Baja Peninsula later tonight or Monday.
With previously recorded wind speeds of 180 miles per hour, Rick is the second strongest Eastern Pacific storm on record after 1997's Hurricane Linda, whose winds reached 185 mph.
Cruise Ship Itinerary Changes
Carnival Splendor, which set sail today from Los Angeles' Long Beach port for the Mexican Riviera, will sail a revised itinerary to avoid Rick. The ship will visit Ensenada on Monday, Puerto Vallarta on Thursday and Cabo San Lucas on Friday. The original schedule was Puerto Vallarta (Wednesday), Mazatlan (Thursday) and Cabo San Lucas (Friday).
Carnival Spirit, which left today from San Diego for Mexico, will still operate its currently scheduled itinerary. However, changes may be required based on the actual path and speed of the storm.
Weather Outlook: Next Affected Ships & Ports
There are a number of other ships currently sailing Mexican Riviera cruises. Silversea Cruises' Silver Shadow is scheduled to visit Acapulco today, October 18. Holland America's Veendam, Sapphire Princess, Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas, NCL's Norwegian Star and Norwegian Sun are scheduled to visit cruise ports in the region, including Puerto Vallarta, Manzanillo, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas, on Monday and Tuesday.
Spokespersons for NCL, Holland America and Royal Caribbean said there are no changes yet to report. Representatives from Silversea have yet to respond to several e-mail and phone requests, made yesterday and this morning, for information.
--by Dan Askin, Associate Editor
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Hurricane Rick Sparks Carnival Cruise Changes
October 18, 2009