August 29, 2011 Updated August 29, 2011
Royal Caribbean, Carnival Strand Hundreds in San Juan
(Updated noon EDT) -- What was once Tropical Storm Irene became sub-tropical near the U.S./Canada border this evening, and the National Hurricane Center has issued its last advisory. After an epic run through the Bahamas and up the East Coast, the storm -- still packing 50 mile per hour winds -- is expected to dissipate as it moves over eastern Canada.
Tropical storm warnings have been dropped for all of the East Coast, though they remain for portions of Canada.
All told, the storm forced lines to alter itineraries for dozens of cruise ships in the Northeast, Eastern Caribbean, Bermuda and Bahamas, with numerous lines contracting or expanding voyages to allow Irene to pass.
Cruise Ship Itinerary Changes
Veendam, which left Sunday from New York on a seven-day Bermuda Cruise, arrived back in New York one day early on Saturday. Passengers were able to disembark on Saturday or overnight until Sunday. Veendam will delay the departure of its Sunday cruise until Monday, August 29, at 2 p.m. Passengers will be able to embark as scheduled on Sunday provided there is access to the cruise terminal -- but access to the terminal may be limited (or it may be closed on Sunday). Boarding on Monday will run from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Maasdam arrived in Boston on Saturday at 7 a.m. The schedule for Maasdam's next sailing, a Canada and New England cruise that left the same day, has been revised. Because of anticipated rough seas, calls at Bar Harbor, Maine, and Halifax, Nova Scotia, have been canceled. The ship instead will call at Quebec's Gaspe and Saguenay. These changes will not impact the time of departure from Boston.
Celebrity Summit, currently sailing a Bermuda cruise, departed the island on Friday, August 26. It's expected to arrive in its homeport of Bayonne, New Jersey, early on Monday, August 29 -- one day later than scheduled. As a result, Summit's next Bermuda sailing will depart Monday afternoon instead of Sunday. The line says passengers on the shortened voyage "will receive a letter at check in with the amount of onboard credit each stateroom will receive."
Norwegian Cruise Line
Norwegian Gem, due to return to New York Sunday from a week-long Bermuda cruise, will instead return to Manhattan on Monday morning, August 29. In addition, the ship will now depart Monday afternoon at 4 p.m. on its next voyage, instead of Sunday. Passengers are asked to arrive at the pier at noon on Monday. A Norwegian spokeswoman tells Cruise Critic that because this is a weather-related change, no compensation will be offered to guests on the storm-shortened cruise.
Norwegian Jewel, which is in the midst of a week-long Bahamas and Florida cruise, returned to NYC early on Saturday, August 27, and will disembark passengers starting at 6 a.m. Then the ship will depart three hours earlier than scheduled -- at 1 p.m. (guests for the August 27 sailing are advised to arrive at the pier between 10 a.m. and noon). The line is cautioning that there may be changes to the itinerary as well.
Norwegian Dawn, sailing from Boston on Friday for a seven-night voyage to Bermuda, departed as scheduled. The line warns that it may need to modify the itinerary if the path of the storm changes.
Norwegian Sky, departing Friday from Miami, did not call at Great Stirrup Cay, the line's private island in the Bahamas, on Saturday, August 27. Instead, it will spend the day at sea.
Explorer of the Seas departed from Bayonne, New Jersey, on Saturday, August 27, at 4 p.m., one hour earlier than originally scheduled. The ship is scheduled to sail a five-night Bermuda cruise.
Monarch of the Seas will not call on CocoCay on Sunday, August 28, because of damage to the line's private Bahamian island. Instead, the ship will overnight in Nassau and depart at 11 a.m. on Sunday, August 28.
Majesty of the Seas did not call on CocoCay on Saturday, August, 27. The ship spent Saturday at sea and call on Nassau on Sunday, as scheduled.
Freedom of the Seas will not call on CocoCay on Monday, August, 29. The ship will call on Nassau instead.
Carnival Cruise Lines
Carnival Pride, sailing a week-long Bahamas and Florida cruise, returned to Baltimore a day early, on Saturday. According to the line, "All guests will be required to disembark early ... and the ship will then be moved to an alternate location as directed by the U.S. Coast Guard." The next voyage will begin on Monday instead of Sunday and sail a revised itinerary. Pride will now visit Port Canaveral (Wednesday), Nassau (Thursday) and Freeport (Friday). The original itinerary included a stop in Half Moon Cay, sister line Holland America's private island, which is closed until September 4. All passengers on the storm-shortened cruises will receive a one-day refund.
Carnival Valor, which left Miami on Sunday, August 28, for a seven-night Eastern Caribbean cruise, has traded Monday's visit to Half Moon Cay for a stop in Nassau. The remainder of the itinerary will proceed as originally scheduled.
Carnival Miracle, which left New York on Friday, August 26, will no longer call on Half Moon Cay Tuesday. The ship will spend the day at sea instead.
Carnival Glory left New York on Saturday, August 27, two hours early -- at 3 p.m. instead of 5 p.m. In addition, the five-night Canada cruise will now skip Saint John and overnight in Halifax (4 p.m. Monday - 6 p.m. Tuesday) instead.
Carnival Fantasy which left its Charleston, South Carolina, homeport Thursday, August 25, for a six-night cruise, was not able to call on King's Wharf, Bermuda, on Saturday and Sunday. The ship visited Cozumel (Sunday) and Key West (Monday) instead.
Caribbean Princess arrived in New York on Saturday, August 27, one hour early at 6 a.m. The ship then departed early in anticipation of the storm. The itinerary has also has been altered slightly; Monday, a sea day will replace a call at Halifax but the ship will visit there Tuesday. The planned Tuesday call at St. John is canceled.
Disney Dream did not stop at the line's private island of Castaway Cay on Saturday, August 27, due to the storm's impact. Instead, the ship spent an additional day in Nassau.
Irene has been on a destructive tear since forming last Saturday, slicing through the Caribbean before veering north up the East Coast.
According to Reuters, 800,000 people in Puerto Rico -- half of the island's electricity customers -- were left without power Monday when Irene brushed the island's east coast, felling trees, swelling rivers over their banks and flooding some roads. Crews are still working to restore power to tens of thousands. Early Tuesday, Irene skirted the north coast of the Dominican Republic, bringing heavy winds, rain and surging seas.
On Wednesday and Thursday, the Bahamas and cruise line private islands in the region took a lashing. A report from the Nassau Guardian said the storm caused severe flooding, brought widespread power outages and "wiped 90 percent of the settlement in Lovely Bay, Acklins, off the map." There were no immediate reports of major injuries or deaths, but property damage was extensive, particularly on the smaller islands.
For an in-depth look at Irene's path through the Bahamas, and an update on the status of private islands such as Royal Caribbean's CocoCay and Holland America's Half Moon Cay, check our report here.
Weather Outlook: Possible Affected Ships and Ports
A tropical storm warning remains in effect from the U.S./Canada border and beyond, extending northeastward to Fort Lawrence and the south coast of Nova Scotia.
--By Dan Askin, News Editor; John Deiner, Managing Editor; and Carolyn Spencer Brown, Editor in Chief
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