Hurricane Rick Sparks More Cruise Itinerary Changes

October 19, 2009
(10 a.m. EDT) -- Hurricane Rick has weakened in the Pacific, but it's still a very dangerous Category Three storm with maximum sustained winds of 125 miles per hour. The storm has prompted a number of lines to alter Mexican Riviera cruise itineraries.

According to the National Hurricane Center's 5 a.m. PDT (8 a.m. EDT) update, Rick is located some 365 miles south-southwest of the popular cruise port of Cabo San Lucas. Some slow weakening is expected over the next couple of days. The NHC's five-day forecast (pictured right) has Rick making landfall -- still as a dangerous hurricane -- over the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula by Wednesday. A hurricane watch -- hurricane conditions are possible within 36 hours -- is in place for southern portions of the Baja Peninsula. The watch area includes Cabo San Lucas.

With previously recorded wind speeds of 180 miles per hour, Rick is the second strongest Eastern Pacific storm on record after 1997's Hurricane Linda, whose winds reached 185 mph.

Cruise Ship Itinerary Changes

Carnival Splendor, which set sail Sunday from Los Angeles' Long Beach port for the Mexican Riviera, will sail a revised itinerary to avoid Rick. The ship will visit Ensenada on Monday, Puerto Vallarta on Thursday and Cabo San Lucas on Friday. The original schedule was Puerto Vallarta (Wednesday), Mazatlan (Thursday) and Cabo San Lucas (Friday).

Carnival Spirit, which left Sunday from San Diego for Mexico, will still operate its currently scheduled itinerary. However, changes may be required based on the actual path and speed of the storm.

Sapphire Princess will sail an altered itinerary as follows: Monday at sea; Tuesday, San Francisco; Wednesday, Catalina Island; Thursday, San Diego; Friday, Ensenada, Mexico; and Saturday, Los Angeles.

Holland America's Veendam and Statendam are scheduled to be in the region this coming week -- Veendam earlier in the week, Statendam after transiting the Panama Canal. A Holland America spokeswoman tells us that "Veendam is on a chartered sailing and is planning to call on Cabo San Lucas as scheduled [on October 19]. Options for Tuesday and beyond are being discussed. Other itinerary changes are likely for both ships but are not fully determined yet. We should know more by mid-morning Monday."

Royal Caribbean's Radiance of the Seas is set to depart San Diego on Monday. According to the most recent weather forecasts, the ship will be able to depart on time and head south to Ensenada, Mexico. However, Royal Caribbean said in a statement that "it is too early to know if the storm track will permit the ship to continue to visit Cabo San Lucas on Thursday. Should the ship be unable to visit Cabo San Lucas, an alternate itinerary will include stops in Ensenada, Los Angeles and Catalina Island.

Weather Outlook: Next Affected Ships & Ports

There are a few other ships currently sailing Mexican Riviera cruises. Silversea Cruises' Silver Shadow visited Acapulco today, October 18. Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas, and NCL's Norwegian Star and Norwegian Sun are scheduled to visit cruise ports in the region, including Manzanillo, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas, on Monday and Tuesday.

A spokesperson for NCL said there are no changes yet to report. Representatives from Silversea have yet to respond to several e-mail and phone requests, made yesterday and this morning, for information.

Stay tuned.

--by Dan Askin, Associate Editor