Update (9/27 @ 12:45 p.m. Eastern):
Hurricane Ian is now a powerful hurricane, with sustained winds of 115 m.p.h., set to impact the Florida coast between Wednesday night and Thursday morning. The Port of Tampa Bay has closed to cruise traffic in preparation.
As of now, we know of the following confirmed changes to cruise schedules from the cruise liens:
Carnival Paradise, which is currently sailing on a five-day cruise that departed September 24 from Tampa, will extend today’s visit to Cozumel, Mexico overnight, and is now scheduled to depart Wednesday, September 28. Since the Port of Tampa Bay is currently closed to marine traffic, it is possible the sailing will be extended until the port reopens after the storm has passed.
Carnival Elation, which is currently on a five-day sailing from Jacksonville, replaced a scheduled visit to Princess Cay with a sea day today. The ship will visit Freeport, The Bahamas, on Wednesday, September 28, instead of a scheduled sea day. Since the current forecast indicates the Jacksonville area may be impacted, it is expected JAXPort will close to marine traffic. At this time, it is possible Carnival Elation’s return to Jacksonville could be delayed from its scheduled return on Thursday, September 29.
Carnival Ecstasy, which departed Mobile, Alabama September 26, will visit Progreso, Mexico on Wednesday before visiting Cozumel on Thursday. This change re-orders the visits, as the ship’s initial itinerary was set for a visit to Cozumel before Progreso.
Carnival Glory, which departed from New Orleans on September 25 for an eight-day sailing, will now visit Mahogany Bay, Roatan Belize and Cozumel. The ship had been scheduled to visit Key West, Florida as well as Freeport and Nassau, Bahamas.
Liberty of the Seas, which departed Galveston will not be going to Cozumel as originally planned as it is slowing its speed to allow time for Hurricane Ian to pass.
Allure of the Seas has changed its route around Cuba to avoid the storm. As a result, it is dropping a planned stop in Roatan, but plans to still visit Mexico.
Scarlet Lady has already adjusted the schedule of its current cruise. Instead of a stop in Costa Maya (a route that would have taken the ship in the path of the storm), the itinerary was changed to stops in the Dominican Republic and Bahamas to keep clear of Hurricane Ian.
Update (9/26 @ 2:45 p.m. Eastern):
Carnival has now confirmed updates to the following itineraries due to Hurricane Ian:
Carnival Ecstasy: The ship will now visit Progreso, Mexico on Wednesday before visiting Cozumel on Thursday. This change re-orders the visits.
Carnival Glory: Glory will now visit Mahogany Bay (Roatan), Belize, and Cozumel instead of the original schedule of Key West and then stops in The Bahamas.
Original Article (9/26 @ 11:00 a.m. Eastern):
To date, the Atlantic hurricane season has been relatively quiet. However, a storm threatens to quickly strengthen and impact a large swath of the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico, from the Cayman Islands to Cuba to Florida.
Hurricane Ian currently sits roughly 250 miles south of the main island of Cuba, with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph. The storm intensified quickly overnight, and projections are for it to quickly strengthen more. By Tuesday morning, it is projected to be a major hurricane (Category 3).
The current projections show the storm making its way north, with landfall on the western side of Cuba before continuing up into the western edge of Florida. At this time the models show the storm hitting Cuba on Tuesday morning, crossing through the Straits of Florida Tuesday afternoon, and then making landfall in Florida sometime Thursday.
Obviously the first thoughts are with the people that stand to be directly impacted by the storm. However, it also stands to reason that given the track, Hurricane Ian could impact cruises.
To be sure, your specific cruise line will have the most up-to-date information about any potential impacts the hurricane will have on your cruise. Below we cover what’s known so far.
Known Impacts on Cruises (Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Virgin Voyages)
If there is good news for cruising, it is that the storm’s current track seems to keep it from making a direct impact on major departure ports or ports of call. As well, the timing of the storm is also a benefit. Ports in the area have relatively limited traffic during the times when the storm is expected to impact.
Still, there are likely to be some disruptions.
Port of Tampa Bay
Perhaps the biggest impact will be on the Port of Tampa Bay, where the current track of Ian shows likely to make landfall sometime on Thursday.
In a statement on their website, the port said that “the Coast Guard has set Port Condition YANKEE, indicating the possibility of gale force winds (34-47 knots) entering the Bay in the next 24 hours.
In accordance with the current Port Condition, Port Tampa Bay has begun to secure waterfront facilities and dock areas to remove debris and hazardous materials, and continues to operate in conjunction with the Coast Guard’s direction.”
According to CruiseMapper.com, Tampa has one cruise ship — Carnival Paradise — that’s set to dock on Thursday, September 29. As of yet, Carnival has not announced a change to that schedule just yet. We’ve reached out to Carnival to see if that schedule will be changed.
As mentioned, we’ve reached out to Carnival for details on any itinerary updates. Carnival Brand Ambassador John Heald posted the following on his Facebook page on Monday morning. (See updates at the start of this article for a confirmed schedule changes from Carnival.)
However, we identify three ships that we think could be impacted: Carnival Glory, Carnival Paradise, and Carnival Horizon.
Carnival Glory: Shows as en route to Key West, with a stop tomorrow, then headed to The Bahamas. We’d be surprised if the Key West stop is kept given that it is near the path of Ian. Just keep in mind we’ve seen nothing official from Carnival. (See update at the start of this article for a confirmed schedule change from Carnival.)
Carnival Paradise: Currently south of the storm in Roatan, but is scheduled to return to Tampa on September 29, when Ian is likely to be impacting the region. It seems possible that the trip could be extended to allow time for the hurricane to clear the area before returning.
Carnival Horizon: Currently shows as sailing around Cuba with a scheduled stop in Jamaica and then Grand Cayman. No word on if these ports of call will be ready to accept passengers or not as they are still seeing the impact of Ian at the moment.
According to an update posted to Twitter by Royal Caribbean meteorologist James Van Fleet, the cruise line has adjusted the routes of two ships due to Ian:
Monday Tropical Update on Hurricane Ian for @RoyalCaribbean Guests / Crew (video 1 of 2): No surprises on Ian for me and I am closely watching a cold front that will “decide” where any Northeasterly “wobbles” may occur Wednesday/Thursday. pic.twitter.com/KwR3Mt3Etc
— James Van Fleet (@JamesVanFleet) September 26, 2022
Liberty of the Seas: The ship that departed Galveston will not be going to Cozumel as originally planned as it is slowing its speed to allow time for Hurricane Ian to pass.
Allure of the Seas: Allure has changed its route around Cuba to avoid the storm. As a result, it is dropping a planned stop in Roatan, but plans to still visit Mexico.
Virgin has already adjusted the schedule of its current cruise aboard Scarlet Lady. Instead of a stop in Costa Maya (a route that would have taken the ship in the path of the storm), the cruise line plans to instead spend the day at Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic. This will keep it well out of the way of Hurricane Ian.
What to Know About Possible Cruise Line Changes
As mentioned the best source for updates on your cruise is the cruise line. That said, having followed the impact of hurricanes on cruises in the past, there are some things to note about what could happen:
Total Cancellations Are Unlikely: Typically total cancellations of cruises due to hurricanes are rare. For that to happen, typically the departure port needs to be heavily damaged to where it can’t accept cruise ships. Instead, more often there are simply itinerary changes. If you’re thinking your cruise will be completely cancelled, that seems unlikely to us.
Trips Can Be Extended or Shortened: More common is for a cruise to be extended or shortened in order to allow a storm to pass or to allow passengers off the ship before the impacts are felt. This can cause headaches with travel schedules, but is often the only alternative due to the timing of a storm’s arrival.
Ports of Call Can Be Canceled: The most common impact of weather on a cruise is that ports of call are skipped or adjusted. Sometimes this can mean a day at sea instead of stopping in port. Other times it can mean rearranging the schedule to visit once a storm is gone.
We will continue to monitor the situation with Hurricane Ian and report any more impacts the storm might have on cruises.