The first major Caribbean storm of 2012 results in small changes to ship itineraries
file photoTechnically, hurricane season has already been here since June, but fortunately there has been very little activity until lately with Ernesto bearing down on the Yucatan Peninsula. The regulation "hurricane season" runs from June through November, but it tends to peak considerably from mid-September to mid-October.
Ernesto is still just a tropical storm but it is predicted to reach hurricane strength later in the week. So far the only cruise lines to announce changes in itinerary are Carnival and Disney.
According to the line's website, Carnival Freedom, which left Port Everglades on Sunday, is in Key West Today and have a day at sea tomorrow, as scheduled, but the plan is to transpose the calls in Grand Cayman and Ocho Rios, going to the latter first and then moving on to Grand Cayman.
Carnival Legend typically calls in Belize and Mahogany Bay, Honduras - two destinations that are directly in the projected path of Ernesto. Legend sailed from Tampa yesterday with a scheduled itinerary for a day at sea, a stop in Cozumel, then Belize, followed by Mahogany Bay, then Grand Cayman and another day at sea before returning to Tampa. The new itinerary will be avoid the Yucatan peninsula and Central America, and instead have two days at sea, then stop in Montego Bay (Jamaica), Grand Cayman and then a day at Cozumel followed by a day at sea.
Carnival Magic will also need to cancel Belize and Mahogany Bay, though the line has not yet determined the new itinerary. Carnival Triumph departed Galveston Sunday and is transposing the ports of call to visit Progreso on Monday and Cozumel on Tuesday, rather than the other way around. Sunday and Wednesday will remain days at sea.
Disney announced it will move Disney Fantasy, sailing Sunday out of Port Canaveral, from a Western to an Eastern Caribbean itinerary.
Ernesto is expected to reach hurricane strength by midday on Sunday, pass directly beneath Jamaica and head straight for Roatan, Honduras, Belize City, Belize and Progreso in Yucatan Mexico.
The National Hurricane Center said Tropical Storm Ernesto was expected to pass south of Jamaica on Sunday and move north of the northeastern coast of Honduras late Monday. Maximum sustained winds were near 50 mph with higher gusts. Some strengthening was possible as Ernesto moved over the Western Caribbean Sea. A tropical storm warning was in effect for Jamaica and tropical storm watch is in effect for Grand Cayman and the coast of Honduras from the Honduras/Nicaragua border westward to Punta Castilla.