Hurricane Fiona Strengthens, Continues Cruise Impacts

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Hurricane Fiona continued to strengthen over the weekend, crossing over Puerto Rico and moving over the Dominican Republic as of Monday morning. The storm is now a strong Category 1 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 90 miles per hour (145 kilometers per hour), moving northwest at eight miles per hour (13 kph).

The storm is forecast to continue turning north and strengthening in the next few days, with strong impacts on Bermuda expected by the end of the week.

Hurricane Fiona Hits Puerto Rico

The most impactful Caribbean hurricane yet in the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season, Hurricane Fiona passed over southwestern Puerto Rico on Sunday, causing widespread, complete-island power outages. Power was slowly being restored Monday morning.

The extent of damage on the island is not yet known, but the storm has been a significant rainmaker and widespread flooding is likely. Roads and bridges are reported to be washed out due to landslides, and the water supply is compromised for much of the island.

At the moment, only MSC Seashore is scheduled to call on the Puerto Rico today, September 19, 2022. That visit was canceled several days ago in anticipation of the storm. The next vessel scheduled to visit is Carnival Cruise Line’s flagship, Mardi Gras, on September 27, 2022. It is too early to determine whether that visit will be affected by any storm-related damage.

Storm Moving Northwest

As Hurricane Fiona continues on its track to the northwest, hurricane warnings are now in effect across much of the Dominican Republic and the Turks & Caicos Islands, with hurricane watches still remaining in effect in Puerto Rico and into the easternmost islands of The Bahamas.

Hurricane Fiona – 8 a.m. Monday, September 19 (Image: NOAA)

Different cruise lines have already changed itineraries to stay away from the storm, including Royal Caribbean International’s Harmony of the Seas completely changing from and Eastern Caribbean itinerary to a Western Caribbean sailing this week.

Additional changes will be decided after Hurricane Fiona moves out of the area and any resultant storm damage is assessed, including the impact on port facilities necessary for cruise ships to safely dock.

While the storm is still moving northwest, it is forecast to shift to a more northerly track late Tuesday and into Wednesday. This should keep the hurricane away from the most populous area of The Bahamas as it likely strengthens into a major Category 3 storm.

At this time, there are no cruise ship itinerary changes anticipated for sailings in The Bahamas, as most cruises call either on Nassau or Freeport, both of which are in the easternmost part of the archipelago.

It is still possible, however, that those ports of call may be impacted if the storm stays further east than expected, and higher waves, wind, and rain can be felt far from the center of any hurricane.

Any cruise traveler with a Caribbean or Bahamas sailing in the next few days should stay in close communication with their cruise line to be alerted to any itinerary or schedule changes as they are confirmed.

Bermuda to Be Impacted

Hurricane Fiona is likely to make a slight eastern turn late Wednesday or early Thursday, putting Bermuda quite central to the storm’s predicted path. If the storm remains on its predicted track and at forecasted speeds, it will reach its closest approach to Bermuda early Friday morning, September 23.

The Breakaway-class Norwegian Getaway is scheduled to visit Bermuda on Saturday, September 24. The storm is forecast to be moving much more quickly at that time, however, and may be far from Bermuda at the scheduled port of call time.

Norwegian Getaway

Whether or not Norwegian Getaway changes its visit times or drops the call altogether will depend on how the storm behaves in the coming days, and any damage that may occur at port facilities.

No other ships are scheduled for Bermuda in the coming days while the storm is a concern.

Stay tuned to Cruise Hive for further updates on Hurricane Fiona and the storm’s impact on cruise travel and ports of call, as well as any other storms that develop.

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