Update: Hurricane Jimena Strengthens, Causing Multiple Itinerary Changes

August 30, 2009

(1:15 a.m. EDT) -- Update: A hurricane watch has been issued for the southern portion of the Baja California peninsula, which means the region is likely to experience hurricane conditions within 36 hours. Hurricane Jimena's maximum sustained winds have increased to 145 miles per hour.

(5:21 p.m. EDT) -- Hurricane Jimena, a dangerous Category Four hurricane, has gotten stronger since this morning.

According to the 5 p.m. advisory from the National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Jimena's maximum sustained winds have increased to 140 miles per hour. The Category Four storm may experience some fluctuations in strength over the next few days.

Jimena is located 270 miles south-southwest of Cabo Corrientes, Mexico, and 480 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 Elation -- which departed from San Diego on Saturday -- will be at sea today and tomorrow and visit Catalina on Tuesday and Ensenada on Wednesday. This new itinerary replaces the existing schedule of consecutive port calls in Cabo San Lucas on Monday and Tuesday.

Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas will depart Los Angeles today on schedule. The ship will sail west to avoid the storm and Monday will be a sea day as planned. Royal Caribbean will decide Monday afternoon whether or not to alter the ship's itinerary based on the latest weather forecast.

Weather Outlook: Next Affected Ships & Ports

Hurricane Jimena is moving toward the west-northwest, and is expected to turn gradually toward the northwest and then the north-northwest during the next 48 hours. The western side of mainland Mexico and the southern Baja California peninsula may be impacted by the storm in the next few days, and a hurricane watch for the southern Baja California peninsula may be issued today or tonight. According to the NHC's five-day forecast, the center of the storm will reach the Baja California peninsula on Tuesday.

Carnival has already altered the itineraries of two of its ships sailing in the Pacific, and Carnival Paradise's itinerary next week will keep it away from the storm with no changes needed. Royal Caribbean will make any announcements regarding Mariner of the Seas' schedule on Monday afternoon.

Stay tuned for updates.

--by Erica Silverstein, Senior Editor