Jimena Becomes Category Four Hurricane, Carnival Changes Itineraries

August 30, 2009
(12:39 p.m. EDT) -- Hurricane Jimena is now a dangerous Category Four hurricane.

According to the 11 a.m. advisory from the National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Jimena's maximum sustained winds have increased to 135 miles per hour. The storm is likely to strengthen further over the next 24 hours.

Jimena is located 285 miles south of Cabo Corrientes, Mexico, and 515 miles south-southeast of the southern tip of Baja California.

Cruise Ship Itinerary Changes

Carnival has altered Carnival Splendor's Mexican Riviera itinerary. Instead of sending the ship south toward Puerto Vallarta during two sea days on Monday and Tuesday, Carnival will keep Splendor closer to its Long Beach homeport, visiting Catalina Island on Monday and Ensenada on Tuesday. The remainder of the itinerary is unchanged for now. Carnival is still evaluating options for Carnival Elation -- which departed from San Diego on Saturday and is due into Cabo San Lucas Monday -- and says more information will become available later today.

Royal Caribbean will be making a decision regarding Mariner of the Seas later this afternoon.

Weather Outlook: Next Affected Ships & Ports

Hurricane Jimena is moving toward the northwest, and is expected to turn gradually toward the north-northwest over the next few days. Although no hurricane watches or warnings have been issued, the western side of mainland Mexico and the southern Baja California peninsula may be impacted by the storm in the next few days. According to the NHC's five-day forecast, the center of the storm will reach the Baja California peninsula on Tuesday.

Four ships are currently sailing Mexico itineraries in the Pacific: Carnival Elation, Carnival Paradise, Carnival Splendor and Mariner of the Seas. Carnival Splendor's itinerary has already been altered due to the storm (see above), and although no other revisions have been announced yet, it's highly likely that other ships will be forced to alter their schedules to avoid the storm.

Stay tuned for updates.

--by Erica Silverstein, Senior Editor