Tomas Regains Hurricane Status; Heads for Bahamas

November 5, 2010

<img src="" border="0" width="260" height"208" align="right">
(10:10 p.m. EDT) -- Hurricane Tomas continues to bring heavy rains and winds to Haiti and the Dominican Republic as it heads for the southeastern Bahamas.

According to the National Hurricane Center's 11 p.m. EDT update, the Category One Tomas is currently located about 135 miles east of Guantanamo, Cuba, and 50 miles south of Great Inagua Island. Maximum sustained winds are now at 75 miles per hour, and the storm is moving northeastward at 14 miles per hour.

A turn toward the east-northeast is expected to occur between Saturday and Sunday at a reduced speed.

A number of storm watches and warnings are currently in effect for Haiti, the Bahamas, Cuba, the Dominican Republic. The tropical storm warning has been discontinued for Jamaica.

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.

The New York Times reports that while the storm veered away from a direct hit on Haiti's capital, where nearly a million people are still living in tent camps, flooding and mudslides were still a threat. The Haitian government has confirmed that at least one person died attempting to cross a river in the countryside.

Several Southern Caribbean islands were battered by Tomas last weekend, and 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. For more details, check out our report here.

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...."

In anticipation of the storm's impact, the port of Grand Turk
will also be closed through November 7.

Cruise Ship Itinerary Changes

Princess Cruises' Caribbean Princess' skipped its scheduled visit to St. Lucia on Thursday.

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. The 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 skipped a scheduled call in Labadee, and to compensate replaced a sea day with a visit the CocoCay.

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.

Liberty of the Seas will not call in Labadee today, November 5. The ship will spend the day at sea before calling in Nassau on Saturday.

P&O's Ventura replaced a scheduled call in St. Lucia with a visit to Dominica.

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

On Facebook, Shelia Lilley Trentini, who is currently onboard Holland America's Zuiderdam, reports that the ship skipped a scheduled call in Half Moon Cay on Thursday. The cruise line has not yet responded to our request for comment on this matter.

Norwegian Epic's departure from Cozumel on November 4 was delayed due to strong winds. The ship overnighted in Cozumel and is expected to return to Miami at 10 a.m. on November 6 instead of at its regular arrival time of 8 a.m. Embarkation for the November 6 sailing will begin at 4 p.m. and the ship will set sail at 8 p.m.

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 waves. 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.

A tropical storm warning is in effect for parts of Cuba and the central Bahamas.

--by Shayne Rodriguez Thompson, Web Content Producer