With Tropical Storm Franklin steadily advancing towards the island of Hispaniola, urgent preparations are being made to mitigate the storm’s impact.
Two cruise ports in Puerto Plata are temporarily suspending operations, and ships scheduled to arrive on Tuesday have been redirected. Both Carnival Celebration and MSC Seascape have adjusted course and are now heading south on revised itineraries.
Scheduled Arrivals Cancelled for Two Cruise Ships
Carnival Celebration and MSC Seascape, initially destined for Amber Cove and Taino Bay, respectively, have had their arrivals cancelled today, August 22, due to the potential impacts of Tropical Storm Franklin. The storm, officially recognized as a tropical cyclone on Sunday evening, is making its way west at 12 mph (19 kph).
The forecast indicates that Franklin will cross directly over the Dominican Republic, causing the Port Authority to cease all shipping traffic in the affected areas starting at 2 PM local time on August 22.
According to the statement by Autoridad Portuaria Dominicana: “Taking into account the recommendations of the Emergency Operations Center and the National Meteorology Office, it has been decided to temporarily suspend ship operations in the ports of Puerto Plata and Samaná, starting at 2:00 pm today.”
Carnival Celebration passed the island of Hispaniola earlier this morning. Although scheduled to call at San Juan, Puerto Rico, tomorrow, August 23, she is sailing on a course to the Dutch Caribbean island of St Maarten, likely to avoid any of the storm’s effects should it reach San Juan.
The 182,800 gross tons Carnival Celebration’s new schedule is to arrive in St Maarten at 07:00 AM on August 23, a day earlier than initially scheduled. The call to San Juan will likely happen the following day, August 24. The Excel-class cruise ship is expected to return to her homeport of Miami on August 27.
Meanwhile, the 5878-passenger MSC Seascape is still on course for San Juan, Puerto Rico, with a new scheduled arrival time of 6:00 PM on August 23. MSC Seascape will further visit Nassau and Ocean Cay in the Bahamas during this voyage, which ends in Miami on August 27.
Possible Wider Impact on Cruise Ship Itineraries
Uncertainty surrounds the storm’s path and potential damage to Amber Cove or Taino Bay facilities. If significant damage occurs, there could be even more far-reaching consequences.
Whether the call for Carnival Magic on August 24 to Amber Cove will also be affected is still being determined, depending on the storm’s speed and trajectory in the coming days.
The National Hurricane Center issued warnings: “Heavy rainfall from Franklin is expected across portions of Puerto Rico and Hispaniola into Thursday. The heavy rainfall may produce areas of flash and urban flooding as well as river rises and mudslides. Across Hispaniola, significant and potentially life-threatening flash flooding is possible Tuesday into Wednesday.”
Turks & Caicos have also been placed under a Tropical Storm Watch, which means that storm conditions could arrive within the next 48 hours. On Wednesday, Carnival Magic is scheduled for a port visit to Grand Turk from 11:00 AM to 6:00 PM. That visit is likely to be impacted by the storm.
As the 2023 Atlantic Hurricane Season continues and the tropics become more active, cruisers are reminded to keep updated with the latest news from the Caribbean basin. They should also stay in close contact with their cruise lines or travel agents for updates during and even outside the hurricane season dates, which run from June 1 through November 30.