A Strengthened Tomas Sparks More Cruise Itinerary Changes; Threatens Islands

November 4, 2010

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(Update, 7 a.m., November 5: Tomas, about 145 miles south of Cuba, is now a Category 1 hurricane packing winds of 80 mph. Further strengthening is possible.)
(6:40 p.m. EDT) -- Tomas is steadily moving toward Jamaica and Haiti as a tropical storm, resulting in a slew of cruise ship itinerary changes and prompting a number of storm watches and warnings.

According to the National Hurricane Center's 11 a.m. EDT update, Tomas is currently located about 110 miles south-southeast of Kingston, Jamaica, and 280 miles west-southwest of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Maximum sustained winds are at 50 miles per hour, and the storm is moving toward the north at five miles per hour. A turn toward the north-northeast is expected over the next 48 hours, and the storm could once again reach hurricane strength.

In addition to the tropical storm watch that was issued for Jamaica earlier this week, watches and warnings have been issued in Haiti, Cuba, the Dominican Republic and the Bahamas.

As previously reported, the U.S. Department of State has issued a travel alert for Haiti, home to Royal Caribbean's private island of Labadee.

The alert says, "Even storms that do not reach hurricane strength have caused widespread damage and loss of life in Haiti in recent years. U.S. citizens who nevertheless plan travel to Haiti should defer travel until Tropical Storm Tomas has passed."

Those who choose to travel to Haiti despite the alert are encouraged to register their itinerary on the State Department's Web site. A travel warning that was issued as a result of the devastating earthquake Haiti experienced last December is also still in effect.

New York Daily News reports that Haitian officials are calling for the more than one million people that have been living in tent camps since the earthquake to evacuate. The Haitian government asserts that there are more than one thousand shelters that can accommodate evacuees.

Several Southern Caribbean islands were battered over the weekend by Tomas, the 12th named hurricane of the Atlantic season. There have been widespread media reports of injuries, fatalities, downed power lines and damage to homes on Barbados, St. Vincent and particularly in St. Lucia.

MSNBC is reporting that in St. Lucia, "at least 14 people were killed and seven others were missing after the storm caused an estimated $37 million in damage."

The island is now closed to cruise traffic and will remain so until November 7, at which point cruise lines are welcome to resume calls.

St. Lucia's tourism board posted a statement on Tuesday, which noted that cruise ships will resume calls to the island on November 7. The statement added that "the country and its vital tourism industry will be back to normalcy by Friday November 12, at which time the island will be in a position to welcome all visitors...."

Full Report: How is St. Lucia Fairing in Tomas' Wake?

In anticipation of the storm's impact, the port of Grand Turk has announced that it will close to all cruise traffic 6 p.m. today through Sunday, November 7.

Cruise Ship Itinerary Changes

Princess Cruises' Caribbean Princess, which was scheduled to visit St. Lucia on Thursday, will no longer be able to call there.

Grand Princess' scheduled calls to the Dominican Republic on Friday, November 5 and to Grand Turk on Saturday, November 6 have both been cancelled. A visit to San Juan on Friday has been added to the ships itinerary.

Ruby Princess will no longer call in Grand Turk on Friday, November 5. Th ship will take a longer southerly route in order to avoid Tomas, but is expected to arrive in Fort Lauderdale on time.

Silversea Cruises' Silver Spirit, which was scheduled to visit St. Lucia on Friday, will call in Roseau, Dominica.

Carnival Miracle, which was scheduled to dock in St. Lucia on Saturday and St. Kitts on Sunday, instead spent the weekend at sea. To compensate, it stopped in Grand Turk on Monday and Nassau on Tuesday.

Carnival Victory, which was scheduled to stop in St. Lucia on Thursday, November 4, will now spend the day at sea.

Carnival Freedom's scheduled call to Ocho Rios on Thursday, November 4, is being replaced with a visit to Cozumel.

Freedom of the Seas replaced yesterday's sea day with a visit to CocoCay, and instead of calling in Labadee today the ship will remain at sea.

Serenade of the Seas departed from San Juan for a Southern Caribbean cruise on Sunday, and rather than calling on Curacao, Aruba and Dominica, the ship will now visit Barbados, Antigua, St. Maarten and St. Thomas.

P&O's Ventura will skip its scheduled call in St. Lucia tomorrow, and will instead call in Dominica.

Celebrity Millenium will no longer call on St. Lucia on Friday, November 5, but will instead visit Martinique.

We'll keep you posted on any other changes.
Weather Outlook: Possible Affected Ships & Ports

According to the NHC, a dangerous storm surge will raise water levels by as much as one to three feet, and that near the coast the surge will be accompanied by large and destructive winds. Total rain accumulations of five to 10 inches are expected over much of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Rain may cause life threatening flash floods and mudslides.

Hurricane warnings are in effect for Haiti, the southeastern Bahamas, the Cuban province of Guantanamo and the Turks and Caicos.

Tropical storm warnings are in effect for Jamaica and parts of Cuba.

A tropical storm watch is in effect for the southern coast of the Dominican Republic.

--by Shayne Rodriguez Thompson, Web Content Producer