Cruise Lines are scrambling to find suitable replacement ports as Tropical Storm Fiona looks set to develop into a full-blown hurricane as she passes over the Caribbean islands of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.
As a result of the arrival of Tropical Storm Fiona, Royal Caribbean has announced several changes to the Harmony of the Seas itinerary for the sailing departing tomorrow, September 18. While the call to Perfect Day at Cococay will go ahead, the rest of the original itinerary has been changed entirely.
Fiona Forces Changes to Harmony of the Seas Itinerary
With safety at the forefront of any decision that cruise companies make, Royal Caribbean has decided to make several changes to the itinerary for Harmony of the Seas sailing tomorrow, September 18.
Originally scheduled to sail from Port Canaveral to the Eastern Caribbean, Harmony of the Seas will be switching to the Western Caribbean instead. The choice was made due to the imminent approach of Tropical Storm Fiona in the Eastern Caribbean, where Harmony of the Seas was scheduled to be operating in the coming days.
Guests will be disappointed that their cruise will not sail to Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, and Philipsburg, St. Maarten. But, the ship will sail toward Costa Maya and Cozumel in Mexico, two ports that have always proven popular.
The itinerary changes are not surprising, as Royal Caribbean’s Chief Meteorologist, James Van Fleet, issued a statement that itinerary modifications should be expected with the arrival of Fiona.
Royal Caribbean issued a statement to guests booked on September 18 that clarifies the need to change the itinerary for Harmony of the Seas:
“Along with our Chief Meteorologist, James Van Fleet, we’ve been monitoring adverse weather along our planned route due to Tropical Storm Fiona. As a result, we’ve replaced our visits to Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, and Philipsburg, St. Maarten.”
“Instead, we’ll visit two beautiful Mexican ports, Costa Maya and Cozumel. We are sorry for the weather’s impact on our itinerary. While not the ports originally planned, we know you’ll have a wonderful time. And know, being onboard a ship is one of the safest places because we are faster and can move out of the way of any inclement weather.”
Harmony of the Seas itinerary has CocoCay in the Bahamas on September 19, St Thomas, US Virgin Islands on September 21 has been replaced by a day at sea. The following day, September 22, would have been a call to St. Maarten, but this has been replaced by Costa Maya.
Instead of a day at sea, The 226,963 gross tons Oasis-class Harmony of the Seas will be in Cozumel on September 23, followed by a day at seas and returning to Port Canaveral, Florida, on September 25.
Guests who have shore excursions pre-booked for St. Thomas and St. Maarten will be automatically refunded.
Fiona Expected to Become Hurricane Strength But Misses Florida
Currently tracking over the Eastern outer Leeward islands of St. Maarten, Barbuda, Antigua, and Guadeloupe, Fiona will strengthen as it moves near the US and UK Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic later this weekend. The storm will likely develop into a Category 1 hurricane as it approaches.
“Fiona could be near hurricane strength when it moves near Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic this weekend, and it could reach hurricane status itself before reaching the Dominican Republic early Monday,” the National Hurricane Center (NOAA) said.
Although the storm will develop into a hurricane, its path has also changed compared to expectations yesterday, September 16. Forecasts now state that the storm will track over Puerto Rico, the eastern side of Hispaniola, and Turks and Caicos but is expected to head back to the Atlantic Ocean later next week.
If this does happen, it would spell good news for the cruise ships sailing from and to Florida and the Bahamas, as the effects will likely be relatively minor compared to what the people in the Eastern Caribbean are currently experiencing. As always, Cruise Hive will closely monitor the situation, while you can also help those affected.