Hurricane Bill Reaches Category Four, Cruise Ships Alter Itineraries

August 19, 2009
(6:30 p.m. EDT) -- Hurricane Bill, the first hurricane in the Atlantic this season, has been upgraded to a dangerous category four hurricane, as it continues to move to the northwest.

According to the National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Bill has maximum sustained winds of nearly 135 miles per hour and is currently located about 335 miles northeast of the leeward islands and about 970 miles south-southeast of Bermuda.

Cruise Ship Itinerary Changes

Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas, which will depart Cape Liberty on Thursday, will sail a revised itinerary that will visit San Juan on Sunday; St. Maarten on Monday; St. Thomas onTuesday; and Kings Wharf, Bermuda, on Thursday. No other RCI ships are affected at this time.

Carnival Glory, which is currently in the middle of a seven-night Caribbean sailing, stayed at sea Wednesday, rather than visiting regularly scheduled St. Maarten. On Thursday, the ship will forego its previously planned sea day and, instead, will call in Grand Turk. No other Carnival ships have been affected at this time.

Norwegian Cruise Line has slightly altered schedules for its current Bermuda sailings on Norwegian Dawn and Norwegian Majesty, both of which will depart Bermuda a bit early -- 5 p.m. -- on Thursday. No changes have yet been made to weekend itineraries for Norwegian Dawn, Norwegian Majesty or Norwegian Spirit, which are all scheduled to sail Bermuda voyages from the United States' East Coast during the coming week.

Weather Outlook: Next Affected Ships & Ports

Bill is expected to continue to gain speed over the next 24 hours, and the northeast Caribbean islands will likely experience large swells within the next one to two days. Bermuda and the East Coast of the United States may also see the effects of the storm by Friday or Saturday.

Ships scheduled to be in Bermuda ports over the weekend include NCL's Norwegian Dawn and Norwegian Spirit, as well as RCI's Explorer of the Seas.

We'll keep you posted as further updates become available.

--by Ashley Kosciolek, Copy Editor