Tropical Storm Claudette - which at 10 a.m. E.D.T. was nearing hurricane status with 70 m.p.h. winds (category one hurricane is 74 m.p.h. winds), is bearing down on the Cayman Islands and Jamaica. Tropical storm warnings have been issued for Grand Cayman and Jamaica. And, according to the National Hurricane Center's latest advisory at 8 a.m. today, a tropical storm watch remains in effect for Little Cayman and Cayman Brac. A hurricane watch may be issued for the Mexican Caribbean coast of the Yucatan Peninsula later this morning.
Obviously, the storm, which barely registered yesterday and has surprised a lot of folks this morning with its rapid wind speed increase overnight, will be impacting cruises to the Western Caribbean, particularly today and tomorrow. At this point, cruise lines we contacted say itinerary changes have not yet been made but changes most likely will be posted to their web sites. When there is a storm in the region in which we cruise we keep a close eye on it. The safety of guest, crew and vessel is our top priority and if it becomes necessary we will alter itineraries to steer clear of the storm, says Carnival spokeswoman Jennifer de la Cruz.
Tropical Storm Claudette is the third named storm of the 2003 hurricane season, which begins June 1 and ends November 30. This year, prediction experts have pretty much agreed this hurricane season will be fairly active. Travelers heading to the Caribbean this summer and fall, and who want to know what to expect, should go to Hurricane Concerns