With Tropical Storm Nicole moving closer to The Bahamas and Florida, two Carnival Cruise Line ships have had itinerary changes to stay away from the storm’s path.
Furthermore, there may be debarkation port changes in the coming days for ships homeported in the Sunshine State.
Itinerary Changes Ahead of Tropical Storm Nicole
In a statement provided to Cruise Hive, Carnival Cruise Line updated the storm’s impact on current sailings:
“As the safety of our guests and crew is our priority, we will continue to keep an eye on the storm and factor in guidance from the National Hurricane Center, U.S. Coast Guard, and the local port authorities to provide timely updates as more information becomes available.”
At this time, two Carnival Cruise ships have had itinerary changes confirmed ahead of Tropical Storm Nicole. Both Carnival Liberty and Carnival Elation are changing ports of call on their current sailings.
Conquest-class Carnival Liberty is sailing a 4-night cruise, which departed Port Canaveral on Monday, November 7. The itinerary was to have been to The Bahamas, with ports of call in both Nassau and Princess Cays, a private destination for the cruise line.
Because of the storm’s approach, however, both ports have been dropped. Instead, the ship is spending Tuesday at sea, and will visit Cozumel, Mexico on Wednesday, before another day at sea on Thursday and returning to Port Canaveral on Friday, November 11.
Fantasy-class Carnival Elation is homeported in Jacksonville, and is currently sailing a 5-night cruise that departed on Saturday, November 5. The ship was to have visited Nassau on Monday and Princess Cays on Tuesday. While the visit to Nassau went ahead as scheduled, the ship was redirected to Freeport, The Bahamas for Tuesday rather than Princess Cays.
Freeport is 200 miles (322 kilometers) northwest of Princess Cays, much further from the storm’s path and wind field impact.
Carnival Elation will spend Wednesday at sea, the same as on the original itinerary, returning to Jacksonville on Thursday.
Possible Homeport Changes
Because the path of Tropical Storm Nicole is expected to curve over the Florida peninsula on Thursday after making landfall, it is possible that several Carnival cruise ships may need to make homeport adjustments in the next few days until the winds settle and it is again safe to dock to debark passengers.
Should such changes be necessary, the next successive cruises may also be impacted for embarkation and itineraries.
Carnival Cruise Line brand ambassador John Heald shared which cruises are being watched most closely and may have changes.
“At this point, there is a possibility that one or more of the current voyages of our ships could be delayed returning to port due to the storm, which could then impact your cruise,” Heald said.
Both Carnival Liberty and Carnival Elation may be delayed as they return to their respective Port Canaveral and Jacksonville homeports.
From Miami, Carnival Sunrise and Carnival Conquest might also have delays as they return from their current cruises.
Passengers sailing on these ships now or booked on the next cruise departures should stay in close communication with Carnival Cruise Line for further updates and announcements via text messages and emails, as well as updates and alerts through the Carnival Hub app.
Tropical Storm Nicole
The storm officially strengthened to Tropical Storm Nicole on Tuesday, November 8. As of the 1 p.m. advisory from the National Hurricane Center, the storm has maximum sustained winds of 60 miles per hour (97 kilometers per hour), but is expected to continue to strengthen into Wednesday, possibly reaching Category 1 hurricane strength (75 mph/120 kph).
The center of the storm is located approximately 310 miles (399 km) northeast of Nassau and 450 miles (724 km) east-northeast of Miami, moving west at 9 mph (15 kph).
The storm is predicted to move slightly south and curve through The Bahamas before making landfall between Port Everglades and Port Canaveral on Wednesday night.
After making landfall, the storm is expected to move rapidly north along the Florida peninsula and into southern Georgia. During that time, it will weaken significantly, but the large wind field can still impact port operations on both sides of the state.
At this time, both Port Canaveral and PortMiami are set at Condition X-Ray, indicating gale force winds expected within 48 hours. The ports are fully open, but storm preparations have begun.
Port Everglades, which is likely to be closest to the storm’s landfall, is at Condition Yankee with gale force winds expected within 24 hours. Preparations for the storm are well underway, and vessels seeking to arrive in port must make alternate arrangements. The port will move to Condition Zulu with the port fully closed and all operations ceased at 8 p.m. Tuesday night.
Jaxport in Jacksonville is currently at Condition Whiskey, with gale force winds expected within 72 hours. Port operations continue as normal, but vessels must make preparations either to remain in port through the storm or depart if necessary.
The last major Florida homeport, Port of Tampa, is not currently at any elevated alert condition but will continue to monitor the storm. With the storm’s predicted path and intensity, however, no change to Port of Tampa’s operation is expected.
Hurricane warnings are now in effect for much of The Bahamas. Hurricane warnings, tropical storm warnings, hurricane watches, and tropical storm watches now cover the entire east coast of Florida as well as the southeastern coast of Georgia and the southern tip of South Carolina.
Tropical storm watches are also in effect for much of the western Florida coast, due to the storm’s predicted path and the broad wind field that could bring deteriorating conditions to the west coast of the state.