(5:40 p.m. EDT) -- Although Category Four storm Hurricane Igor is still churning in the middle of the Atlantic, Royal Caribbean and Carnival were forced to change ship itineraries to avoid heavy surf today.
According to the National Hurricane Center's 5 p.m. EDT update, Igor is located about 505 miles east-northeast of the northern Leeward Islands and 1,015 miles southeast of Bermuda, and maximum sustained winds are at 135 miles per hour. The storm is moving in a west-northwesterly direction.
Right behind Igor is Hurricane Julia, a Category Three storm with maximum sustained winds of 125 miles per hour. At this point, Julia is even farther from land than Igor; there's no immediate cruise impact.
Cruise Ship Itinerary Changes
Royal Caribbean spokeswoman Cynthia Martinez told us that "the Captain [of Oasis of the Seas] was concerned about high swells in St. Maarten -- it seems that high swells are forecasted for Wednesday." So the ship reversed the order of its calls in St. Maarten and St. Thomas -- calling in St. Maarten on Tuesday and St. Thomas on Wednesday -- to avoid any possible rough seas. The rest of the ship's itinerary remains unchanged.
Carnival Dream also swapped its St. Maarten and St. Thomas calls. The ship visited St. Maarten on Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and St. Thomas on Wednesday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Weather Outlook: Next Affected Ships & Ports
No coastal watches or warnings are in effect for Hurricane Igor, and storm projections do not show the hurricane near any land masses through Saturday morning. However, swells generated by the storm may affect the Leeward Islands, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands today and Thursday, and the Bahamas from tonight through the weekend. Swells may also reach the East Coast of the U.S. Thursday or Friday and continue through the weekend. The forecast puts Igor on a path toward Bermuda, but the storm could change course or weaken before then.
No more itinerary changes have been announced, but cruise lines are keeping watch on the weather. Stay tuned.