Tweet (10:45 a.m. EDT) -- A Royal Caribbean spokeswoman tells us that Bermuda's ports will be closed from Friday through Monday, as Hurricane Igor bears down on the island nation. The port closures have forced several cruise lines to change itineraries.
According to the National Hurricane Center's 8 a.m. EDT update, Igor is located about 635 miles south-southeast of Bermuda. Maximum sustained winds are near 105 miles per hour, meaning Igor has decreased in strength slightly and is now a Category Two hurricane. The storm is moving in a northwesterly direction, with a turn to the north-northwest expected over the next few days.
Right behind Igor is Hurricane Julia, which has weakened further and is now a Category One storm with maximum sustained winds near 75 miles per hour. At this point, Julia is not near any land and will continue to weaken today and Saturday; there's no immediate cruise impact.
Cruise Ship Itinerary Changes
Royal Caribbean spokeswoman Cynthia Martinez tells us that the Bermuda port closures will impact Enchantment of the Seas, which is scheduled to depart from Baltimore on September 18. Instead of spending Monday and Tuesday docked in King's Wharf, Bermuda, the ship will instead sail to Nassau, arriving on Monday and staying overnight until noon on Tuesday. Royal Caribbean is offering passengers an onboard credit or the option to cancel and receive a future cruise credit for the amount of the cruise fare paid for the Enchantment of the Seas sailing.
Also, to avoid Igor's path and heavy swells caused by the storm, Majesty of the Seas which was set to call in Coco Cay on September 18, will instead sail straight to Nassau, where it will remain until 5 p.m. Sunday. Monarch of the Seas will also skip its scheduled call in Coco Cay on September 19, and instead remain in Nassau until 5 p.m.
MSC Poesia was scheduled to call in Hamilton, Bermuda, on Saturday and Sunday at the tail end of a transatlantic sailing before arriving in New York on September 21. Instead, the ship will spend two days in Boston, arriving at 9 a.m. on Saturday and departing at 7 a.m. on Monday.
NCL's Norwegian Spirit was also scheduled to call in Bermuda Sunday through Tuesday, and the cruise line has revised the ship's itinerary. The ship will depart Boston on schedule this afternoon and spend two days at sea before visiting Orlando (Port Canaveral) on Monday and Nassau on Tuesday.
Holland America's Veendam leaves Bermuda today and is scheduled to return on Tuesday. Holland America is waiting until the storm hits to announce whether a timing change will be necessary.
Weather Outlook: Next Affected Ships & Ports
A hurricane watch is now in effect for Bermuda, meaning that Bermuda could start feeling tropical-storm-force winds by late Saturday and hurricane conditions on Sunday. The center of the storm is expected to reach the island nation on Sunday.
Large swells generated by the storm will continue to affect the Leeward Islands, Puerto Rico, Hispaniola, the Virgin Islands and portions of the Bahamas over the next few days. Swells will also affect the East Coast of the U.S. through the weekend. Bermuda will experience dangerous surf conditions over the next few days.
--by Erica Silverstein, Senior Editor
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Bermuda Braces for Hurricane Igor, Three Cruise Ships Impacted
September 17, 2010