(3:30 p.m. EDT) -- The fifth named storm of the 2011 Atlantic Hurricane season is chugging through the Caribbean, prompting storm watches and warnings throughout the region, according to the National Hurricane Center. Numerous cruise itineraries have been affected.
In the 2 p.m. EDT advisory, the NHC placed Tropical Storm Emily 60 miles south-southwest of Port Au Prince, Haiti. Maximum sustained winds from the storm have reached 40 miles per hour.
Tropical storm warnings -- meaning tropical storm conditions are expected within 36 hours -- are in effect for the southern coast of the Dominican Republic, Haiti, southeastern and central Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, and parts of Cuba. A tropical storm watch -- meaning storm conditions are expected within 48 hours -- is now in effect for the northwestern Bahamas.
Cruise Ship Itinerary Changes
Several Carnival ships are altering their itineraries to contend with the storm. Cruisecal.com reports that Carnival Liberty is in port in Freeport, Bahamas. Carnival Miracle, which is sailing an 8-night voyage out of New York, will call on San Juan instead of Grand Turk today, St. Thomas instead of Half Moon Cay on Saturday and Grand Turk instead of Nassau on Sunday. Additionally, Carnival Sensation and Carnival Fantasy have altered itineraries. Sensation will call on Freeport today and forego a second day in Nassau for a sea day on Saturday. Fantasy will call on Nassau instead of Freeport today and stay at sea on Saturday.
Caribbean Princess is in the region and has had minor changes to its itinerary. No further changes have been announced, but the line is closely monitoring the storm.
Norwegian Cruise Line also has ships in the area. According to an NCL representative, no changes have been made at this time, but the situation is being monitored closely.
Additionally, Royal Caribbean canceled scheduled ports calls to St. Thomas and St. Maarten for both Oasis of the Seas and Freedom of the Seas. Oasis will return to Fort Lauderdale today to conclude its current sailing, and Freedom will begin its return to Port Canaveral.
Disney Dream, which was scheduled for a sea day today, will now spend the day in Nassau, followed by a sea day tomorrow.
Weather Outlook: Possible Affected Ships and Ports
The National Hurricane Center says Emily's remnants will bring significant rain to affected areas and 20 inches of rain is possible over the high terrain of Haiti and the Dominican Republic, bringing with it the potential of life-threatening flash floods and mudslides in both countries.
More than 600,000 people still live without permanent shelter after last year's earthquake in Haiti.
While a minimal tropical storm at this time, it is possible that Emily could reform over the next 48 hours and progress up the Florida coast going into the weekend, clinging to the U.S. Eastern Seaboard.
We'll be keeping our eye out to see if Emily disrupts any weekend departures from the busy South Florida ports.
--by Jamey Bergman, Web Content Manager, U.K., and Shayne Rodriguez Thompson, Editorial Assistant