(5 a.m. EDT) -- Tropical Storm Richard, the seventeenth named storm of the active Atlantic hurricane season, is slowly intensifying as it swirls close to the coast of Hondurus.
According to the National Hurricane Center's 5 a.m. EDT update, Richard is located about 55 miles north of Cabo Gracias a Dios, which is on the Nicaragua-Honduras border, and 230 miles east of Roatan, a popular Caribbean cruise port. Maximum sustained winds remain at 45 miles per hour, and Richard could reach the 74 m.p.h. needed to become a hurricane by Sunday. Hurricane watches and storm warnings remain in place for parts of Honduras, Belize and Mexico.
Cruise Ship Itinerary Changes
At this point there are no cruise ship itinerary changes -- we'll keep you posted.
Weather Outlook: Next Affected Ships & Ports
A hurricane watch is in effect for Honduras from the Nicaragua-Honduras border westward to Limon and the Bay Islands, which include Roatan. This means that hurricane conditions are possible in around 48 hours. A tropical storm warning is also in effect for Honduras from the border with Nicaragua west to Limon and the Bay Islands. That means tropical storm conditions are expected within 36 hours. A tropical storm watch has been issued for the Coast of Belize and parts of the coast of eastern Mexico. A tropical storm watch means that tropical storm conditions are possible within 48 hours.
Richard is expected to produce heavy rainfall which may begin to affect north-eastern Honduras late tonight.
Projections show the storm is headed in the direction of Belize and Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula after the weekend.
Representatives from NCL, Holland America, Royal Caribbean and Carnival -- the four lines have ships in the Western Caribbean (but not within the storm's cone) -- said there are no changes to report at this time.
In a related note, John Deiner, Cruise Critic's managing editor, has been onboard Norwegian Epic this week and reported heavy rains in Cozumel. Check out his picture of a soggy ship and read his take on cruisin' in the rain in our blog.