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(3 p.m. EDT) -- Tropical Storm Earl, the fifth named storm of the 2010 Atlantic Hurricane Season, continues to surge toward the islands of the Eastern and Southern Caribbean. In anticipation of the storm, Carnival Cruise Lines has announced an itinerary change.
According to the National Hurricane Center's (NHC) 2 p.m. update, Earl is some 660 miles east-southeast from the northern Leeward Islands, which include the popular cruise ports of St. Thomas, St. Maarten and Tortola. Maximum sustained winds are currently at 55 miles per hour. However, conditions are favorable for Earl to reach the 74 m.p.h. threshold necessary to become a hurricane over the next couple of days.
Cruise Ship Itinerary Changes
Carnival Cruise Lines has changed the itinerary for Carnival Dream, which is departing today from Port Canaveral. Instead of sailing an Eastern Caribbean cruise with stops in Nassau, St. Thomas and St. Maarten, the ship will sail a Western Caribbean route and visit Cozumel, Belize, Roatan and Costa Maya.
We've also reached out to representatives from NCL, Celebrity Cruises, Royal Caribbean, Princess Cruises and Disney Cruise Line regarding the respective status of their ships in the region.
Weather Outlook: Next Affected Ships & Ports
The NHC's latest forecast has the center of Earl approaching the northern Leeward Islands by Sunday; current forecasts predict that Earl will be a hurricane by that time. Tropical storm watches are in effect for numerous Eastern and Southern Caribbean islands, including St. Maarten, St. Barth's, Antigua and St. Kitt's. According to the NHC, a tropical storm watch means that tropical storm conditions are possible within the watch area, typically within 48 hours.
We'll keep you posted.
--by Dan Askin, Associate Editor
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Tropical Storm Earl Sparks Cruise Itinerary Change