A new tropical disturbance has formed in the eastern Caribbean and is already having an impact on multiple Royal Caribbean International cruise ships in the region.
The storm – Nicole – is forecast to strengthen over the next two days, and is likely to make landfall in Florida early on Thursday, November 10, 2022.
Changed Itineraries for Royal Caribbean Ships
Multiple Royal Caribbean ships have already implemented itinerary changes ahead of the storm. As the busy Caribbean sailing season has begun, it’s not surprising that several ships need to make changes to stay safely away from the storm’s impact.
While official announcements are first being made to guests booked on the impacted sailings before being announced, guests onboard several ships are already reporting significant storm-related itinerary changes.
Anthem of the Seas
The Quantum-class Anthem of the Seas is likely to have the greatest impact from this storm. The ship is currently sailing a 7-night roundtrip sailing from Bayonne, New Jersey, having departed on Sunday, November 6. Scheduled ports of call are in Port Canaveral, Nassau, and CocoCay, the cruise line’s private island destination in The Bahamas.
Due to the storm’s path directly through The Bahamas, however, the ship’s entire itinerary has been changed, with none of the original ports of call remaining.
Instead, Anthem of the Seas will only call on Labadee, Haiti, on Wednesday, November 9, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Labadee is another private destination for Royal Caribbean guests and offers a variety of tour options, watersports, pristine beaches, and more.
Haiti is far out of the storm’s projected path, and allows the ship to stay well outside the influence of wind fields and rough waves.
Liberty of the Seas
The Freedom-class Liberty of the Seas is also diverting significantly. The ship’s 4-night Bahamas Perfect Day sailing departs from Fort Lauderdale on Monday, November 7, but instead of Nassau and CocoCay as planned, the ship will instead be visiting Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic on Wednesday, November 9.
Like Anthem of the Seas‘ diversion, this new route also takes Liberty of the Seas well to the east and south of the storm and out of the most significant weather impact.
Independence of the Seas
Sister ship to Liberty of the Seas, Independence of the Seas is also changing itineraries. The ship is departing on a 4-night sailing from Port Canaveral on Monday, November 7, but is not likely to visit Nassau and CocoCay as planned in the next few days.
Instead, the visit to Nassau is still slated to go forward on Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. as originally scheduled, but CocoCay is reportedly dropped from the itinerary completely, with no replacement port available due to the shorter itinerary and homeport further north.
It is possible that the call on Nassau may also be changed as the ship gets underway and the storm’s impact becomes better known.
Other Ship Changes
Because many ships are sailing in The Bahamas at this time of year, other vessels are likely to have similar itinerary changes this week with ports canceled, substitute ports added to itineraries if possible, port visit hours changed.
Similarly, other cruise lines are likely to have similar changes across their fleet for any ships operating in the path of the storm.
Any guests booked on cruises this week should stay in close contact with their cruise line through email and text messages to be alerted to any itinerary, embarkation, or debarkation changes. Checking schedules and itineraries in cruise lines’ apps can also show updated changes.
Subtropical Storm Nicole
Subtropical Storm Nicole currently has maximum sustained winds of 45 miles per hour (72 kilometers per hour).
While this is still well below the threshold of 74 mph (119 km/hr) for a Category 1 hurricane, the storm is expected to continue strengthening over the next few days as it moves in an undulating path west.
As of the 4 p.m. update from the National Hurricane Center, the storm is expected to strengthen into a hurricane by Wednesday night as it crosses The Bahamas before making landfall in south Florida overnight into Thursday morning.
Hurricane warnings are currently in effect for much of The Bahamas, while hurricane watches have been activated along the southern Florida coast from just north of Port Canaveral south to PortMiami.
Port Canaveral, PortMiami and Port Everglades have all elevated their storm alert levels to Condition Whiskey, indicating gale force winds expected within 72 hours. At this time, all ports remain fully open to normal operations, but preparations for the storm are underway.
Additional updates to other Florida homeports are expected in the next few hours and continuing through the week. Stay tuned to Cruise Hive for further updates as they are confirmed.