Cruise homeports in Florida have started preparing for Tropical Storm Fred, which is currently moving across the eastern Caribbean and is a concern for cruises over the weekend. The storm is anticipated to hit southern parts of Florida as it reaches the southeast Gulf of Mexico.
Cruise Industry Prepares for Fred
The cruise industry is just starting to make a comeback, but hurricane season is gearing up as August and September are typically the busiest storm months. How this will impact cruises remains to be seen, especially now with only a limited number of ships back sailing.
However, there are still cruise ships sailing in the Caribbean with thousands of guests onboard. There is also the issue with Florida homeports that are in Fred’s route, including the cruise capital of the world, PortMiami, along with Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale and Port of Tampa.
On Wednesday, ports issued a storm watch alert, and the U.S. Coast Guard has posted that they are under Port Condition WHISKEY. This means preparations are underway for expected high winds and flooding from the tropical storm within 72 hours. The ports will remain open at this time, including for cruise operations, but it’s recommended that vessels over 500 gross tons should begin to make plans for departing the port.
If Tropical Storm Fred continues on its current track, the U.S. Coast Guard and ports will issue Port Condition X-RAY on Thursday at 12:00 PM. This means gale force winds are expected to impact within 48 hours, but the ports remain open. Port Condition YANKEE, the next level, will close all inbound and outbound traffic, including cruise ships.
Also Read: How a Hurricane Could Affect Your Cruise
Fred is expected to reach south Florida this weekend, often a busy time for cruise ship turnarounds. During this time, some vessels could be impacted, especially those that homeport in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and Tampa. With cruise lines not operating all ships yet, Tampa does not currently have any active cruise ships.
Current Status of Tropical Storm Fred
According to the National Hurricane Center (NOOA), Fred currently has maximum sustained winds of 35 MPH and is located 275 KM Southeast of Great Inagua Island. The storm has just been downgraded to a tropical depression. Still, as it moves away from the Dominican Republic and back over warm water, it’s expected to become a tropical storm again.
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Even though Fred is not set to become a hurricane, it will still cause high winds, flooding, heavy rainfall, and ocean swells. Cruise lines will undoubtedly monitor the storm’s track and development and will adjust ship itineraries accordingly. Ships to watch will be those returning or departing Florida over the weekend, especially on Saturday.