(7:30 a.m. EST) -- Hurricane Ida, now a category one storm, has finished pounding Mexico's Caribbean coast and Grand Cayman and is now setting its sights on the U.S. Gulf Coast.
A hurricane watch is in effect from Eastern Louisiana to Florida's panhandle. A hurricane watch means that Ida could begin to affect weather conditions there in the next 24 - 36 hours. The National Hurricane Center specifically notes that Hurricane Ida will not impact New Orleans.
Ida is expected to weaken to tropical storm status before making landfall early Tuesday morning.
Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Spirit, which is based in New Orleans, did depart 1.5 hours early yesterday as a precaution. Cruise lines that left this weekend for Western Caribbean cruises from other ports -- namely Ft. Lauderdale's Port Everglades, Miami and Tampa, along with Galveston -- departed on schedule but did rearrange itineraries for ships such as Princess' Crown Princess and Carnival's Inspiration, Liberty and Conquest.
Cruise Ship Itinerary Changes
Crown Princess will be rearranging the port calls on its November 7 itinerary to avoid Ida. The ship did depart Fort Lauderdale as scheduled, and the new cruise itinerary is as follows: Princess Cays; sea day; Grand Cayman; Roatan, Honduras; Cozumel, Mexico; sea day; return to Fort Lauderdale.
Carnival Liberty, after departing Saturday from Miami, will have its regularly scheduled sea day and then visit Ocho Rios. On Tuesday, it will be at sea – also as planned – and will then call at Grand Cayman and Cozumel before heading back north to Miami. Carnival had announced that Inspiration's five night cruise from Tampa, leaving Saturday, would make an unexpected visit to Key West and skip Grand Cayman but it's now reversed the decision.
Carnival announced Sunday that passengers on Carnival Conquest, which sails seven night Western Caribbean voyages, will also notice a shakeup in the itinerary; the ship will still call at Grand Cayman, Cozumel and Montego Bay.
Royal Caribbean, which also has ships cruising in the Western Caribbean this week, has reported that there are no changes in itineraries.
Weather Outlook: Next Affected Ships & Ports
Carnival's Carnival Fantasy is due to arrive in Mobile, Alabama, tomorrow (and subsequently to depart again). Mobile is potentially affected by the storm though Carnival has made no announcement yet about its impact on Carnival Fantasy.
Cruise Critic readers on cruises in the Caribbean this week are reporting that sea conditions are a bit rambunctious.
There's likely some flooding and beach erosion at this point in Cozumel, Playa del Carmen and Grand Cayman but Hurricane Ida will not have a great impact on the ports for visitors this week.
We'll keep you posted.
--updated by Carolyn Spencer Brown, Editor in Chief
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Hurricane Ida Aims for Gulf Coast
November 9, 2009