Hurricane Forces Closure of Caribbean Cruise Ports

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All three cruise ports in the US Virgin Islands have been set at Port Condition Zulu and fully closed ahead of Hurricane Tammy.

Ferry service in the islands has also been suspended due to the rough weather as the storm passes immediately to the east. Ports will reopen after the storm has passed and assessments are made to ensure each port is safe and fully operational.

US Virgin Islands Closes Ports for Hurricane Tammy

The Virgin Islands Port Authority has issued a travel advisory for Hurricane Tammy with notice that all three seaports – St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix – are closed as of 8 p.m. on Saturday, October 21, 2023.

The storm is expected to pass the US Virgin Islands overnight on Saturday and into the early morning hours of Sunday. As soon as it is safe to do so, each port will be inspected for any potential damage or debris.

“Seaports will remain closed until the Coast Guard completes its assessments tomorrow [Sunday],” the notification from the Virgin Islands Port Authority explains.

Not many ships are sailing in the immediate region of the storm, but Norwegian Sky and Norwegian Joy have both had itinerary changes, including visits to St. Maarten to avoid the hurricane’s impact.

Cruise Ships in St. Thomas
Photo Credit: Andrew F. Kazmierski / Shutterstock

Norwegian Joy was in St. Thomas on Saturday, but departed well ahead of the scheduled closure. Norwegian Sky was to have visited St. Thomas on Sunday, but was rescheduled for Saturday and is moving away from the area far out of reach of the roughest weather.

No cruise ships are scheduled for St. John or St. Croix this weekend, making the storm’s impact on those ports minimal. It is always a wise precaution to close seaports ahead of a storm, however, to permit adequate time for securing port and dock facilities and for ships at risk to move away from the storm.

The US Coast Guard also set Port Condition Yankee – one step below full closure with extra precautions in place – for seven seaports in Puerto Rico on Friday, October 20. This includes the popular port of call and seasonal homeport of San Juan, the capital of Puerto Rico.

Hurricane Tammy Update

Hurricane Tammy is currently located 35 miles (56 kilometers) east of Antigua, moving north-northwest at 10 miles per hour (16 kilometers per hour). The Category 1 storm has maximum sustained winds of 85 mph (137 kph) and may yet strengthen slightly as it continues to move to the north, though significant strengthening is unlikely. In comparison to the US Virgin Islands, Hurricane Tammy is 235 miles (378 km) east-southeast.

While hurricane warnings and watches are in place in some areas of the Lesser Antilles, it should be noted that the bulk of the storm’s wind field is to the east of the eye, keeping the roughest weather further from populated islands.

Hurricane Tammy
Hurricane Tammy

The US Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency has issued updates to residents to stay off the roads if possible, and to exercise extreme caution at all times. The storm is expected to bring 2-4 inches of rain to the region, which could cause localized flooding.

As of 4 p.m. on Saturday the agency noted, “There are still NO tropical storm or hurricane watches or warnings for the USVI from the National Hurricane Center.”

Read Also: How a Hurricane Could Affect Your Cruise

It is possible warnings may be updated in the next few hours if the storm were to track slightly further to the west, though this is also unlikely.

Over the next few days, Hurricane Tammy will continue to the north and slightly west, weakening to a tropical storm by late in the next week, at which point it is likely to dissipate completely.

The 2023 Atlantic Hurricane Season will officially end on November 30, though dangerous storms are still possible – though very unlikely – after that date.

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