Ahead of the arrival of Tropical Storm Fiona, the Coast Guard has issued Port Condition Yankee for San Juan, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands. This means the ports will be closed for all inbound ships, and all vessels over 500 gross tons must leave the area.
The closure means that several cruise ships cannot make their intended calls while Condition Yankee is in effect. MSC Cruises has already canceled the scheduled call for MSC Seashore this week to San Juan. Several more cruise ships will likely cancel their call to the US Virgin Islands in the coming days.
MSC Seashore Cancels Call
With the eye of Tropical Storm Fiona expected to pass just south of Puerto Rico, the US Coast Guard is taking no chances. The agency issued a Port Condition Yankee at 10 AM on Friday, which means that inbound cruise ships are banned from entering the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
Following the US Coast Guard release, MSC Cruises canceled the scheduled call for MSC Seashore on September 19 to San Juan. No other cruise ships have calls planned for that day in San Juan except for the MSC cruise ship.
The Puerto Rico Port Authority tweeted: “Due to the passage of Tropical Storm Fiona through the Caribbean, the MSC cruise ship MSC Seashore has canceled its visit to the Port of San Juan, scheduled for next Monday, September 19, 2022.”
Tropical Storm Warnings Issued Throughout the Eastern Caribbean
Tropical Storm Fiona has already made landfall at the outer Leeward Islands of Antigua and Barbuda, with the eye of the storm now in the area of Guadeloupe.
In the coming hours and days, the storm is expected to track in a northern direction, passing south of Puerto Rico on Saturday night, September 17, and expected to go directly over the US Virgin Islands.
According to the National Hurricane Center (NOAA), tropical storm warnings have been issued for the British Virgin Islands, US Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico.
The notice also covers Antigua, Barbuda, St. Kitts, Nevis, Montserrat, Anguilla, Saba, St. Eustatius, St. Maarten, Guadeloupe, St. Barthélemy, St. Maarten, and the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
After the storm has passed Turks and Caicos, Fiona is expected to increase in strength and possibly reach Hurricane force strength while it passes the Bahamas and Southern Florida. Currently, the storm has maximum sustained winds of 50 miles per hour (80 kph), and is moving west at 14 miles per hour (22 kph).
US Virgin Islands Closed For Cruise Ship Traffic Impacting Several Vessels
The US Virgin Islands will be closed for cruise ships while the storm warning and condition Yankee is in effect. This will affect several cruise ships scheduled to be heading to St. Thomas in the upcoming days.
Disney Fantasy, Harmony Of The Seas, and Norwegian Sky are scheduled to arrive in St. Thomas on September 21. MSC Seashore, which already canceled its call to Puerto Rico, is scheduled in the USVI on September 20.
Royal Caribbean announced earlier today that it expects to be making changes to the itineraries of several ships in the area, including Harmony of the Seas, Independence of the Seas, Mariner of the Seas, and Oasis of the Seas.
With the storm potentially developing to Hurricane strength over the coming days, itinerary changes will come. While changes will be disappointing for many guests, the first and only priority for cruise companies is to ensure the safety of all guests and crew onboard.