Hurricane Season 2017: Which Caribbean Cruise Ports Are Open?

September 24, 2017
Close-up vector map of Caribbean ports most deeply affected by Hurricane Irma

(Updated 4:55 a.m. EDT) -- While a handful of Caribbean cruise ports re-emerged from Hurricane Irma to welcome cruise ships in the past few weeks, many others still recovering from damage to their islands have been severely affected or back on alert as Hurricane Maria made her devastating way through.

More than 25 Caribbean cruise ports were affected by Irma. More than a dozen ports have re-opened to cruise passengers since Irma, some faster than expected -- Key West had originally expected to be closed to cruise ships through October 20, but it's reopening to Royal Caribbean's Empress of the Seas on September 24. Six ports are officially closed due to damage from Hurricane Irma; others -- like Dominica -- have been equally devastated by Maria. Other ports are still are pending further assessment.

Hurricane Maria swept through the Eastern Caribbean, making landfall in Dominica on September 18 as a a Category 5 storm with winds of nearly 160 mph. The island suffered "mind boggling" damage, according to the New York Times -- and multiple fatalities. Maria touched down in St. Croix on the evening of September 19 with winds reportedly in the 100 mph range. On the morning of September 20, Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico as a Category 4 hurricane, knocking out power across the entire island. Maria passed close to the northeastern coast of the Dominican Republic on the morning of September 21 as a Category 3 storm.

Maria thankfully changed direction on the 22nd and started heading north-northeast, missing the Bahamas and heading out into open sea. A September 24, 5 a.m. alert from the National Hurricane Center stated Maria is running parallel to the east coast of the U.S. and remains a Category 3 hurricane with sustained wind speeds of 115 mph. Storm warnings and tidal surge are in effect for the mid-Carolinas.

Hurricane Maria also passed by the French islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe. While Martinique escaped the brunt of the storm and its airport reopened September 19, Guadeloupe received flooding and downed debris. The airport in Pointe-a-Pitre remains closed.

Cruise Critic will continue to update this information as we receive news releases from the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), the National Hurricane Center, as well as other reports.

For more information on individual sailings that have been affected by Hurricane Irma as well as Hurricane Maria and Hurricane Jose, be sure to check out the rest of Cruise Critic's hurricane coverage.


OPEN AT THIS TIME


Bahamas

Cruise Ports: Nassau; Freeport

A hurricane warning for Maria is in effect for the southeastern Bahamas as of September 20.

The Port of Nassau, and other ports around The Bahamas, are open.

Bahamasair resumed service into the United States on September 12 at Ft. Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport, Orlando International Airport and Miami International Airport. While airlines are operating international flights out of Grand Bahama International Airport, U.S. customs and border pre-clearance is currently unavailable and will be reinstated at a later date. Out Islands International service has resumed from Exuma International Airport in The Exumas and Marsh Harbour Airport in The Abacos.

Nassau and Paradise Island hotels received no damage from Irma. The majority of hotel and resorts throughout The Islands of The Bahamas are operating as usual or are expected to reopen on their regularly scheduled dates.

Great Stirrup Cay: According to a statement from Norwegian Cruise Line, Great Stirrup Cay was unaffected by Hurricane Irma and is receiving cruise ships.

CocoCay: Also known as Little Strirrup Cay, Royal Caribbean's private island in the Bahamas is currently open.

Castaway Cay: Disney's private island is open. However, a call from Disney Fantasy on September 22 was skipped due to an itinerary change to Western Caribbean.


St. Kitts

Cruise Port: Basseterre

The Port Zante cruise pier did not sustain damage and St. Kitts is scheduled to welcome two vessels on September 23: Carnival Fascination and Royal Caribbean’s Adventure of the Seas. All hotels in St. Kitts are fully operational and St. Kitts’ Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport re-opened and began welcoming flights on September 20.

The port of Basseterre was one of the first cruise ports to re-open following Hurricane Irma; Carnival Fascination called on September 8. St. Kitts & Nevis sustained minimal damage from Irma overall, and St. Kitts' Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport is open.


Nevis

Cruise Port: Charlestown

The port in Charlestown and Nevis' Vance W. Amory International Airport are currently open.


Barbados

Cruise Port: Bridgetown

The Port of Bridgetown is open at this time. Calls from Carnival Fascination began on September 13.


Antigua

Cruise Port: St. John's

Antigua escaped much of the damage caused by Hurricane Irma. The next scheduled call on St. John's was Royal Caribbean's Adventure of the Seas on September 19, which has since been diverted to Aruba due to Hurricane Maria.

Antigua's V.C. Bird International Airport opened for all flights on Thursday, September 7. Unfortunately, sister island Barbuda was severely impacted by the storm.


Haiti

Cruise Port: Labadee

Haiti was relatively unscathed by Irma. All services remain in operation and the country continues to welcome visitors. Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas called on Labadee, Royal's private island, on September 14.


Cuba

Cruise Ports: Havana; Cienfuegos; Santiago de Cuba

According to a statement from Norwegian Cruise Line, "We have received confirmation that the port facilities in Havana were not impacted by the storm and our tour operators are ready to receive cruise guests." Norwegian Sky's four-day cruise to Cuba departing on September 18 sailed as scheduled. Hurricane Irma passed over the northern portion of Cuba, and it was been reported that Havana experienced major flooding, with widespread power outages and wind damage. Both Delta and JetBlue have resumed flights to Havana.


Martinique

Cruise Port: Fort de France

Hurricane Maria passed over Martinique on September 18. The Martinique Aime Cesaire International Airport is now open, with ports scheduled to re-open September 20.


OPENING SOON


The Florida Keys

Cruise Ports: Key West

The Florida Keys sustained serious damage and flooding as a result of Hurricane Irma, but it seems to be recovering sooner than expected.

Originally, Key West officials had stated that the port would be open for tourism by October 20. But on September 21, Royal Caribbean announced that Empress of the Seas would be returning to Key West on September 24.

Cruise Critic is awaiting word from Royal Caribbean and Key West if services and excursions available for cruise passengers will be limited or altered.


CLOSED


Bahamas

Half Moon Cay: In an abundance of caution, Half Moon Cay is being evacuated in preparation for Hurricane Maria.

After Hurricane Irma, Carnival brand ambassador John Heald reported minimal beach erosion and no major damage at the private island.

Princess Cays: Princess Cays, located at the southern end of Eleuthera island, is also being evacuated to prepare for Hurricane Maria, as of September 20.


ASSESSING DAMAGE


Turks & Caicos

Cruise Port: Grand Turk

Hurricane Maria passed over the Turks & Caicos islands on September 22. Cruise Critic is awaiting further details on the outcome.

After Hurricane Irma, local authorities and Carnival Corp. were still assessing Grand Turk and when it could return to service.

Magic, Conquest and Glory replaced Grand Turk's upcoming calls with the line's private port, Amber Cove; Sensation was instead scheduled to call at Freeport.

Several of the hotel properties on Turks & Caicos were scheduled for annual closure prior to Irma. Some properties have elected to remain closed to assess any damage to their properties and are looking to reopen in the beginning or middle of October.

The Turks and Caicos Islands Airports Authority re-opened Providenciales International Airport for scheduled flights as of 11 a.m. on Monday, September 11.


Puerto Rico

Cruise Port: San Juan

The Hurricane made landfall in Puerto Rico as a Category 4 storm on September 20 with winds of up to 155 mph. By mid-day, the storm downgraded to a Category 3 with wind speeds of 115 mph, but not before knocking out power to the entire island. According to Reuters, at least 15 people are confirmed dead. Puerto Rico's governor declared a state of emergency and ordered a number of evacuations. President Trump has stated he plans to visit the U.S. territory.

The Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport, in San Juan, shut down at 7 p.m. September 19, ahead of the storm. The airport has been receiving military and rescue flights as of September 21. Very limited commercial flights will be arriving to the island on September 22: specifically five American Airlines flights (from Miami and Philadelphia). Delta and JetBlue are considering resumption of limited service on September 23.

According to the U.S. Coastguard, Hurricane Maria is open for daylight transits only. Carnival has confirmed its terminal has sustained substantial damage and will take several weeks to repair. In a statement, Carnival said: "Port officials have informed us that our terminal in San Juan has sustained extensive damage as a result of Hurricane Maria. The assessment is still in progress but it now appears that it will take several weeks to make the necessary repairs." The line has canceled Carnival Fascination's next six departures to and from the port; the ship will now replace Carnival Elation offering Florida to Bahamas cruises; however, Royal Caribbean's Adventure of the Seas remains on schedule to depart from San Juan September 27.

Prior to Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico served as a staging ground for evacuees from other islands affected by Hurricane Irma.


Dominican Republic

Cruise Port: Amber Cove; La Romana; Samana; Santo Domingo

Hurricane Maria ran through the Dominican Republic on the morning of September 21 as a Category 3 storm. Details on damage are still forthcoming.

Carnival Glory had been slated to dock there on September 21; that itinerary has been changed. Ports closed on September 20.

The ports of the Dominican Republic emerged from Irma without major damage. Punta Cana International Airport resumed normal operations and the area's hotel sector is reporting no major damage. Ships began sailing back to Amber Cove shortly after the storm.


U.S. Virgin Islands

Cruise Port: St. Croix

Hurricane Maria made landfall in St. Croix between September 19 and 20. According to a statement from Beverly Nicholson-Doty, the Commissionor of Tourism: "Based on our preliminary assessments and reports, St. Croix experienced serious hurricane winds and was significantly impacted, and heavy rainfall and flooding affected our Territory. Communications are limited and our teams are in the process of making an assessment of damage to our infrastructure." According to Reuters, at least one person is dead as a result of the storm.

While fellow U.S. Virgin Islands St. Thomas and St. John were far more impacted by Irma, seaports on St. Croix and the Henry E. Rohlsen Airport on St. Croix quickly re-opened. JetBlue resumed operations on the island on September 8, and American Airlines followed on September 12.


Guadeloupe

Cruise Port: Pointe-a-Pitre

Hurricane Maria hit the southern shores of the French island of Guadeloupe on September 18, causing flooding and obstruction of roads from debris. Two people are reported dead. The island's airport is currently closed.


Anguilla

Cruise Port: Road Bay

The Road Bay Port at Sandy Ground reopened after Irma and is able to receive cargo, but no cruise ship calls are on the schedule until late November.

The Clayton J. Lloyd International Airport is now open from sunrise to sunset for charter and emergency flights. Anguilla Air Services is currently operating into St. Kitts and Antigua, taking persons to connect out of those hubs and also bringing persons into Anguilla.


SEVERELY DAMAGED


Dominica

Cruise Port: Roseau

Hurricane Maria hit Dominica as a Category 5 storm on September 18. The island's Prime Minister said that initial reports were of widespread devastation, with most homes losing roofs from the 160 mph winds. The island is without electricity or running water, however the tarmac at Mellville Hall [Airport] was not too badly damaged, accoridng to a statement, so the strip should be re-opened shortly for larger relief planes to land. The death toll is currently at 15 confirmed fatalities, with many others reported missing, according to a statement from the prime minister.The government of Trinidad & Tobago have offered their assistance and plan to mobilize defense personnel as soon as it's deemed safe. A supply vessel is also being sent.


St. Maarten/St. Martin

Cruise Port: Philipsburg (St. Maarten); Marigot (St. Martin)

Both the Dutch and French sides of the island were severely impacted during Hurricane Irma and are closed to cruise business. On Sunday, September 10, Royal Caribbean's Adventure of the Seas made a humanitarian stop in St. Martin, escorted by the Dutch navy. "We were able to tie up, and we landed much-needed provisions: water, ice, garbage bags, clothing, canned food," Michael Bayley, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International, said during an interview on Good Morning America. "We were able to evacuate around 320 tourists and local people who needed help and needed to get out of St. Martin...we're taking them on to the ABC islands [Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao], where they'll probably disembark."

Director of tourism for Dutch St. Maarten Rolando Brison reported some visitors were also been evacuated to Montreal, Canada and other locations. The Princess Juliana International Airport re-opened on September 10 to receive flights bringing in relief supplies and to evacuate guests, but no passengers -- including media -- are being allowed in at the moment due to a shortage of staff.

Land-based resorts were severely damaged, including hotel chain Sonesta, which has canceled all reservations on the island through the remainder of 2017.


U.S. Virgin Islands

Cruise Ports: St. Thomas; St. John

It is reported that all seaports in the St. Thomas/St. John district are open, but not to cruise passengers. Cruise lines Norwegian and Royal Caribbean have sent ships to deliver supplies and pick up evacuees.

Royal Caribbean's Majesty of the Seas arrived in the Charlotte Amalie harbor on September 12 and departed September 13, taking residents and visitors to the Port of San Juan. The American Red Cross and the Government of Puerto Rico coordinated support on the ground in San Juan and helped to re-book flights for passengers arriving from Majesty of the Seas.

Norwegian Sky departed the islands on September 12 and arrived at the Port of Miami on September 14.

The Cyril E. King Airport on St. Thomas received extensive damage during Hurricane Irma and is only open to emergency relief flights at this time. The airport is currently conducting assessments and cleanup to determine when commercial flights can return to the island. There is no commercial airport on the island of St. John.

Ferry service between Cruz Bay, St. John and Red Hook, St. Thomas is limited to daylight hours only.


British Virgin Islands

Cruise Port: Tortola

The cruise port in Tortola is currently closed. The destruction caused by Hurricane Irma in the British Virgin Islands has been "devastating," according to a statement from Sharon Flax-Brutus, the director of tourism. With downed cell phone towers down and power outages, communication within the territory has been difficult, impacting the ability to fully assess the damage. The destination has lost entire structures and many homes are without roofs, or have been diminished to their foundations.

On September 11, the team on the ground helped American visitors board a ferry to St. Thomas for transportation to Miami via Royal Caribbean's Majesty of the Seas and Norwegian Sky.

The government has begun to coordinate humanitarian relief efforts and an initial clean-up operation. The United Kingdom has sent relief and support.


St. Barts

Cruise Port: Gustavia

St. Bart's was heavily impacted by Hurricane Irma, which destroyed government buildings and badly damaged private homes and hotels. The French government has sent people and supplies to the country to assist with recovery efforts, and French President Emmanuel Macron visited on September 13. On September 14, the island's airport reopened to commercial flights, and the harbor is open to relief efforts. Roadways have been cleared, water production has resumed and electricity is being restored.


Barbuda

Cruise Port: Low Bay Beach

The cruise port in Barbuda is closed. The island of approximately 1,800 residents -- a twin to the better-known Antigua -- was severely impacted by Hurricane Irma, which passed directly over the small island, resulting in one fatality. Prime Minister Gaston Browne said 90 percent of homes were destroyed as a result of the storm, and Barbuda's hotel infrastructure was also damaged.

--By Brittany Chrusciel, Associate Editor


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