As Tropical Depression 13 gains momentum several hundred miles east of Barbados, concerns are rising over its potential impact on eastern Caribbean cruises.
Expected to intensify to tropical storm status by this evening, September 5, and further develop into a hurricane by Thursday, the storm has cruise operators and guests on alert.
While it is currently on a trajectory east of the Leeward Islands—including St. Maarten, Antigua, and St. Kitts and Nevis—the storm also poses potential risks to key cruise hubs like Puerto Rico, Turks & Caicos, The Bahamas, and the Dominican Republic.
Potential Major Hurricane by Saturday
The National Hurricane Center has predicted a grim outlook for Tropical Depression 13, soon to be named Tropical Storm Lee.
According to their latest forecasts, the storm could morph into a major hurricane by Saturday, September 9. It could bring with it sustained winds of over 110 mph, heavy rains, and storm surges.
The current storm track is expected to mainly affect areas to the east of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. However, storms of this nature are notoriously unpredictable, and a slight change of course could significantly affect the Eastern Caribbean.
Tropical Depression 13 is currently 1,425 miles to the east of the Lesser Antilles with maximum sustained winds of 35 mph with higher gusts. The system is moving to the west-northwest at 15 mph. Should the tropical depression develop into a hurricane, it will be designated as Hurricane Lee.
Numerous cruises, including Celebrity Equinox, Disney Fantasy, and Carnival Cruise Line’s Mardi Gras, are slated to sail in the region where the storm is expected to have some effect.
Celebrity Equinox’s itinerary includes stops at San Juan, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic, which could be near the storm’s projected path.
Disney Fantasy and Carnival Mardi Gras also have stops in the potentially affected area. Mardi Gras‘s calls to Amber Cove, Dominican Republic, on September 5, San Juan, Puerto Rico on September 6, and St. Thomas on September 7 could all be affected.
Other ships operating in the eastern Caribbean this week include Wonder of the Seas, Adventure of the Seas, Harmony of the Seas, Carnival Venezia, and MSC Seascape.
However, it’s essential to note that these cruises’ itineraries near the storm’s potential path do not necessarily imply immediate cause for concern. Cruise lines are closely monitoring the situation and will take necessary safety precautions, including itinerary changes if warranted.
Next Steps for Cruise Lines and Guests
Cruise lines are staying updated on the storm’s progress and are prepared to take any necessary precautions to ensure guest safety.
Standard industry practice includes altering itineraries if the storm’s expected path comes too close for comfort. Safety measures could entail rerouting to different ports or even changing the scheduled dates for certain stops.
While it is still too early to determine whether Tropical Depression 13 will veer east into the Atlantic Ocean or indeed affect the eastern Caribbean, prudence is advised for all parties involved.
For the latest updates, guests are urged to pay close attention to advisories and any itinerary changes announced by their cruise lines.
The soon-to-be Tropical Storm Lee is already the third major storm in less than two weeks to threaten cruises. Hurricane Franklin caused several Caribbean ports to close, and multiple ships changed their itineraries. This was followed by Hurricane Idalia, which impacted several cruises sailing in the western Caribbean.
The fact that there are this many storms is not entirely out of the ordinary, hurricane season typically reaches its pinnacle around September 10.