(12:40 p.m. EST) -- Cruise lines continue to alter itineraries following raging flash floods and mudslides on the island of Madeira:
Thomson Cruises' Island Escape yesterday skipped a port call at Funchal, where some 200 passengers were due to disembark. The ship instead continued to Las Palmas, a spokeswoman tells us, where Thomson Airways organised a special flight for the passengers returning to the U.K.
Costa Cruises, meanwhile, has cancelled Costa Marina's call in Funchal today (Tuesday). A spokesperson for the Italian line told Cruise Critic that the 25,000-ton, 776-passenger Costa Marina will now spend a day at sea tomorrow instead of calling in the port. On Wednesday, the ship will make a call in Tangiers instead of spending a day at sea.
Also, MSC Cruises has canceled MSC Fantasia's call in Funchal on 26 February. Instead, it will call in Arrecife de Lanzarote.
The devastating floods have claimed the lives of at least 42 people on the Portuguese island.
Other cruise ships due to call on Madeira include Costa Serena on Saturday. Island Escape is due back on 1 March. At this point, no other itinerary changes have been announced.
Funchal, the mountainous capital city that's a popular cruise port this time of year on Canary Islands itineraries (though it's not part of the Canaries), was hit especially hard. The Associated Press and other news outlets are reporting that heavy rains pummeled the city on Saturday, turning roads into rivers and damaging homes, flipping cars and downing trees. Under improved weather conditions today, authorities are engaged in rescue and recovery operations.
Madeira is an autonomous region of Portugal located in the Atlantic some 600 miles from the mother country. The island is known for its sweet wine, sunny year-round weather, and rugged natural landscape.
We'll keep you posted.
--by Kelly Ranson, U.K. Editor, and Melissa Paloti, Managing Editor
Mudslides Kill 40 on Madeira, Popular Cruise Stop