Update: Tropical Storm Earl Sparks More Cruise Itinerary Changes

August 28, 2010
(8 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, Royal Caribbean and NCL have announced itinerary changes.

According to the National Hurricane Center's (NHC) 8 p.m. update, Earl is some 570 miles east of the northern Leeward Islands, which include the popular cruise ports of St. Thomas, St. Maarten and Tortola. Maximum sustained winds have risen to 65 miles per hour and Earl is expected to reach the 74 m.p.h. threshold necessary to become a hurricane on Sunday.

Cruise Ship Itinerary Changes

Carnival Cruise Lines has changed the itinerary for Carnival Dream, which departed 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.

Royal Caribbean has altered the itineraries of both Oasis of the Seas and Enchantment of the Seas. Enchantment, which left Baltimore on Thursday, will call on San Juan tomorrow. On Monday, it will visit Samana, Dominican Republic instead of St. Thomas, as originally scheduled. It will stop in Labadee on Tuesday and spend Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at sea as it returns to Baltimore on Saturday.

Oasis will be unable to make its scheduled port calls in St. Thomas on Tuesday and St. Maarten on Wednesday. Instead, the ship will make an extended visit to Nassau on Sunday, spend Monday and Tuesday at sea, and call on Costa Maya on Wednesday and Cozumel on Thursday. It will then spend Friday at sea as it returns to Fort Lauderdale on Saturday, as scheduled.

NCL has changed the itinerary for Norwegian Epic, which left from Miami today. The ship will now call in Cozumel and Roatan in place of St. Maarten and St. Thomas. Epic's call in Nassau on Friday has been extended.

A statement on NCL's Web site says that Norwegian Dawn will depart New York as scheduled on Sunday, August 29, but there is a possibility of an itinerary change depending on the storm's path.

We've also reached out to representatives from Princess Cruises and Disney Cruise Line regarding the status of their respective 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 warnings 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 warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected within the watch area within 36 hours. Tropical storm watches are also in effect the U.S. Virgin Islands, which include St. Thomas, and the British Virgin Islands, which include Tortola. A tropical storm watch means that tropical storm conditions are possible, generally within 48 hours.

We'll keep you posted.

--by Dan Askin, Associate Editor

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