Tropical Storm Fiona formed into a named storm on September 15, east of the Leeward Islands, and seems to be setting off on a direct course to the eastern Caribbean.
Although weather conditions seem to favor a lighter, more rain-focused storm, disruptions to cruises are certainly expected over the next week due to the projected path the storm will take.
Fiona is expected to track over the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and the Bahamas, potentially affecting a wide variety of cruise destinations and cruises. With Mardi Gras, Symphony Of The Seas, Carnival Freedom, Carnival Legend, and more ships sailing in the area in the coming week, what will be the impact on cruises from Tropical Storm Fiona?
Will Tropical Storm Fiona Have an Impact on Caribbean Cruise Destinations?
Tropical Storm Fiona is currently tracking towards the Leeward Islands and the Northern Caribbean. The depression developed into a tropical storm on Thursday, becoming only the sixth named storm of this hurricane season.
With Caribbean cruises sailing from Florida, the question is whether the storm will impact sailings in the coming week. So far, the National Hurricane Center (NOAA) is heading towards the Caribbean at 14mph, with maximum sustained winds of 60 mph.
As it looks now, the course the storm is expected to take will impact the Leeward Islands, such as Antigua, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Maarten, and the UK and US Virgin Islands, with 4 to 6 inches of rain.
St. Maarten has already announced that its Cruise Main Gate will be closed from Friday, September 16, at noon. Pilot boat operations are to be suspended from 11:00 AM, also on Friday.
Puerto Rico could expect to see 10 inches of rain, and Hispaniola, which includes the Dominican Republic and Haiti, could see anywhere from 4 to 12 inches of rain.
The Bahamas are expected to take a considerable hit from the storm, but not until next week, with forecasts now predicting around 45-50 MPH winds and up to 10 inches of rain on September 23.
Other Caribbean Islands that will likely see the effects of the storm are Turks and Caicos, St. Barths, and Cuba. Besides high winds and some additional rainfall, the impact on Florida seems to be relatively minor for now.
Although the storm is expected to track over a large majority of popular Caribbean Destinations, the impact on the ports will be minor unless Fiona develops into a full-fledged hurricane. However, that doesn’t mean that cruise ships will not be affected.
Will Cruises Will Be Affected?
Cruise ships do not do well in adverse weather. Although they can withstand severe wind and weather, high winds and waves do not make for a pleasant cruise experience. This is why cruise ships are typically rerouted if a storm is approaching and expected to impact a cruise.
This would mean that cruise companies make the call to change itineraries to more suitable environments, where the storm’s impact is expected to be much less.
Cruise ships scheduled to be sailing in the area in the coming week include Scarlet Lady, Mardi Gras, Symphony Of The Seas, Carnival Freedom, Carnival Legend, Celebrity Infinity, Disney Fantasy, MSC Seashore, Harmony of the Seas, Norwegian Sky, and Mariner of the Seas.
For now, cruise lines will wait to see what the tropical storm will be doing and how she develops. If the storm’s path does come into the territory the ships will be sailing in, chances are that last-minute itinerary changes will be implemented.