Hurricane Paula Swirling Toward Cozumel, Impacting Cruises

October 12, 2010

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(1 p.m. EDT) -- Hurricane Paula, the sixteenth named storm of the active 2010 Atlantic Hurricane Season, is swirling off the coast of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, a region that includes the popular cruise port of Cozumel. The storm has prompted a trio of lines to alter itineraries for ships in the region.

According to the National Hurricane Center's 11 a.m. EDT update, Paula is currently located about 155 miles south-southeast of Cozumel. Maximum sustained winds have reached 75 miles per hour, and some slight strengthening is possible over the next day or two. The latest NHC tracking shows the center of the storm approaching the east coast of the Yucatan tonight and Wednesday.

Cruise Ship Itinerary Changes

Holland America has altered the itinerary for Ryndam due to the expected affects from Hurricane Paula. The ship will no longer call at Belize City, Roatan or Costa Maya as originally planned. The revised itinerary includes Half Moon Cay (HAL's private resort island) on Wednesday and Grand Turk on Thursday.

Carnival Cruise Lines has tweaked itineraries for Carnival Inspiration, Carnival Elation, Carnival Ecstasy, Carnival Triumph and Carnival Conquest.
To steer clear of Paula, Inspiration and Elation arrived in Cozumel today "a little earlier than scheduled and are departing a little earlier as a result."

Carnival Ecstasy will no longer call in Progreso and Cozumel as originally planned. The ship is swapping two ports for one and will call in Veracruz on Wednesday instead.

Carnival Triumph is also swapping two ports for one to avoid Paula. Instead of stopping in Progreso and Cozumel, the ship will visit Key West on Wednesday.

Carnival Conquest's revised itinerary features calls in Montego Bay (Wednesday) and Key West (Friday) instead of Montego Bay, Grand Cayman and Cozumel as originally planned.

Celebrity Cruises' Celebrity Solstice will also sail a modified itinerary. Instead of visiting Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Costa Maya and Roatan as originally planned, Solstice will call in Grand Cayman, Montego Bay, Labadee (sister line Royal Caribbean's private beach resort in Haiti) and Nassau.

Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line have yet to make any itinerary changes. Both lines are closely monitoring the situation.

Weather Outlook: Next Affected Ships & Ports

A hurricane warning is in effect for the east coast of Mexico from Punta Gruesa to Cabo Catoche, an area that includes Cozumel. The warning means that hurricane conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area, typically 36 hours before the first tropical storm force winds reach the area.

Ships from Carnival, Royal Caribbean, NCL and Celebrity Cruises are all scheduled to visit the east coast of Mexico in the next few days.

We'll keep you posted.

--by Dan Askin, Associate Editor