(Saturday, 11:15 a.m. EDT) -- Puerto Rico and most of Hispaniola have been spared by Tropical Storm Isaac, the ninth named storm of the 2012 Atlantic Hurricane Season. It is now about 40 miles east of Cuba and about 385 miles south-southeast of Nassau; it is expected to pass over eastern Cuba Saturday, central Cuba Saturday night and move near the Florida Keys by Sunday, when it is also predicted to become a hurricane.
According to the National Hurricane Center's 11 a.m outlook, maximum sustained wind speeds have increased to 60 miles per hour, and the storm is moving northwest at about 17 m.p.h. So far, the storm has forced 11 itinerary changes.
Cruise Ship Itinerary Changes
Allure of the Seas, which departed from Port Everglades on Aug. 19, is sailing a Western Caribbean itinerary (Falmouth, Jamaica; and Cozumel) instead of an Eastern Caribbean itinerary (Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas; and Philipsburg, St. Maarten).
Due to weather forecasts for southern Florida, Royal Caribbean has announced that Allure, which was originally due to conclude its current sailing on Sunday, Aug. 26, will stay at sea for two additional days. That means the ship's next sailing will be delayed by two days. The line is asking passengers booked on that voyage to arrive at Port Everglades on Tuesday, Aug. 28, between 11:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. for embarkation. The shortened cruise has resulted in itinerary changes. The new itinerary will include a sea day on Wednesday, a Cozumel call on Thursday, a sea day on Friday and a stop at Nassau on Saturday. Those booked on the upcoming sailing will receive onboard credit and a 10 percent discount on a future cruise. Passengers on the current sailing who booked their flights through Royal Caribbean will be automatically rebooked. Those who booked their travel arrangements independently will have free access to phone lines and the Internet onboard to make new arrangements.
Carnival Destiny, departing on a five-night voyage from Miami on Saturday, will stop at Grand Cayman (instead of Ocho Rios) on Monday and Ocho Rios (instead of Grand Cayman) on Tuesday.
Carnival Dream, which will be departing on a seven-night sailing from Port Canaveral on Saturday, will skip its Nassau call on Sunday in favor of a sea day. The ship will now pay a visit to St. Maarten (instead of St. Thomas) on Tuesday and St. Thomas (instead of St. Maarten) on Wednesday, and a sea day originally scheduled for Thursday will be replaced with a call on Grand Turk.
Carnival Ecstasy will replace its call on Half Moon Cay on Saturday with a stop at Freeport.
Carnival Imagination is currently sailing on a three-night cruise that departed on Friday and will remain at sea until the port of Miami reopens. Embarkation for the next sailing, a four-night cruise slated to depart on Monday, is expected to begin at 4 p.m., and the voyage is scheduled to depart at 7:30 p.m.
Due to port closures in Tampa, Carnival Legend's current sailing will instead conclude in Port Canaveral at 8 a.m. on Sunday. Passengers leaving the ship, as well as those embarking on the next sailing, will be bused 2.5 hours by complimentary motorcoach between the two ports. The next sailing, scheduled to depart on Aug. 26, will leave Port Canaveral at 8 p.m. At this time, the itinerary for the Aug. 26 voyage remains unchanged. However, it may be altered later, depending on the path of the storm. Although the Aug. 26 cruise will depart from Port Canaveral, it will end at the Port of Tampa as scheduled on Sunday, Sept. 3.
Carnival Liberty is slated to return to Miami on Saturday, as originally scheduled, after trading a sea day for a call on Nassau.
Carnival Valor will replace a scheduled sea day with a call on Nassau on Saturday and will return to Miami as scheduled on Sunday.
Due to port closures in Miami, Carnival Valor's next scheduled sailing will now operate as a five-night cruise departing Aug. 27, rather than a six-night voyage, departing Aug. 26. The itinerary will include Grand Cayman and Montego Bay. A scheduled call on Key West has been cancelled. Departure time is expected to be at 8 p.m. Passengers who opt to sail on this voyage will receive a one-day prorated refund of their cruise fare and a $50-per-person onboard credit. Those booked also have the option of canceling and receiving a full refund or a future cruise credit equal to the amount of their cruise fare.
Monarch of the Seas and Majesty of the Seas will forgo scheduled stops in CocoCay in the Bahamas. Majesty had been scheduled to call on CocoCay on Saturday, while Monarch was supposed to stop there on Sunday. The ships, which both departed Friday, will call on Nassau on Saturday and add an extra sea day on Sunday. Their time in Nassau will depend on the weather. Due to port closures in Miami, both ships (due back in port on Monday) may arrive late, sparking a necessary delay in disembarkation of the current passengers and embarkation of passengers for the next sailings.
Norwegian Dawn will expedite its arrival into Bermuda, docking at 8 a.m. on Sunday, three hours ahead of schedule. Depending on the storm's path, the ship may need to depart Bermuda earlier than scheduled.
Norwegian Gem will change the order of its ports, calling on Great Stirrup Cay on Tuesday, Nassau on Wednesday and Port Canaveral on Thursday.
Norwegian Sky is cancelling its stop at Great Stirrup Cay, originally scheduled for Saturday. The ship will instead call on Nassau from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and spend Sunday at sea. Depending on the path of Isaac, Norwegian warns the ship may be delayed on arrival back into Miami on Monday.
Weather Outlook: Possible Affected Ships and Ports
Hurricane warnings (conditions expected within 36 hours) are in effect for the following: the Florida Keys, including the Dry Tortugas; the west coast of Florida from Bonita Beach southward to Ocean Reef; and Florida Bay. Hurricane watches (conditions possible within 24 to 36 hours) are in effect for the following: parts of the Bahamas and Florida's east coast, from Golden Beach southward to Ocean Reef.
A tropical storm warning (conditions expected within 36 hours) is currently in effect for the eastern coast of Florida to the Sebastian Inlet. There are also warnings for the Dominican Republic, Haiti, parts of Cuba, the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, and Lake Okeechobee. There are storm watches (conditions possible within 48 hours) in effect for the eastern coast of Florida, from Sebastian Inlet to Flagler Beach, and for the west coast of Florida, from north of Bonita Beach to Tarpon Springs. Watches are also in place for parts of Cuba. Jamaica has discontinued its tropical storm watch.
--by Dori Saltzman, News Editor; updated by Ashley Kosciolek, Copy Editor