Tropical Storm Rick Weakens Further

October 20, 2009

(6 p.m. EDT) -- Rick, once a Category Five storm with winds of 180 miles per hour, has been downgraded to a tropical storm. Maximum sustained winds have fallen to 65 mph, but little weakening is expected before the storm makes landfall near or south of the southern part of the Baja Peninsula late today or early Wednesday.

According to the National Hurricane Center's 2 p.m. PDT (5 p.m. EDT) update, Rick is located some 175 miles south-southwest of the popular cruise port of Cabo San Lucas, and 305 miles southwest of Mazatlan. A tropical storm warning is in place for southern portions of the Baja Peninsula -- meaning tropical storm conditions are expected within 24 hours. The warning area includes Cabo. There's also a warning in place for mainland Mexico, from San Blas to Altata.

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

Norwegian Star's call to Cabo San Lucas was canceled on Monday; the ship instead remained at sea. The ship called in Mazatlan today as originally scheduled.

Carnival Splendor, which set sail Sunday from Los Angeles' Long Beach port for the Mexican Riviera, is sailing a revised itinerary to avoid Rick. The ship visited Ensenada on Monday, and will visit 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, is also sailing an altered itinerary. The eight-day cruise will now operate as follows: sea days on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday (Acapulco originally scheduled for Wednesday); Acapulco on Thursday; Manzanillo on Friday; at sea on Saturday; Long Beach on Sunday; return to San Diego on Monday.

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

<a href="/reviews/cruiseline.cfm?CruiseLineID=21"
class="plain">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. According to the line, Veendam is swapping scheduled calls in Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta for extra time at sea and a call Friday in Ensenada. No determination has yet been made on Statendam.

Royal Caribbean's Radiance of the Seas departed San Diego on Monday. 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."

Mariner of the Seas was scheduled to go to Cabo San Lucas on Tuesday, but instead proceeded directly to Puerto Vallarta. According to a spokeswoman for the line, RCI "has not made a determination yet on the rest of the itinerary. It is possible that Mariner will do Mazatlan Thursday and Cabo San Lucas on Friday, or dock overnight in Puerto Vallarta."

Weather Outlook: Next Affected Ships & Ports

NCL's Norwegian Sun is also in the region. Although NCL has made changes to Norwegian Star's cruise (see above), a spokesperson for the line says there are no changes at this time for Norwegian Sun, which is visiting Cabo San Lucas today.

Stay tuned.

--by Dan Askin, Associate Editor