Hurricane Irma causing cruise cancellations and changes as it plows through the Caribbean

Royal Caribbean International, Norwegian Cruise Line, Carnival Cruise Line, Disney Cruise Line and MSC Cruises have all canceled sailings while other itineraries have been shortened, extended or revised in the latest Hurricane Irma changes.

Irma is a large, ‘potentially catastrophic’ Category 5 hurricane, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

MSC Divina’s current cruise is being cut short and the ship is heading back to Miami, to arrive Thursday morning, ahead of the port’s expected closure on Friday. As soon as the disembarkation is completed, the ship will sail to Cozumel, beyond Irma’s reach, allowing those passengers who wish to remain on board to continue their cruise. MSC Divina will remain alongside in Cozumel until it is safe to return to Miami. The Sept. 9 cruise is canceled.

Disney Cruise Line’s Disney Fantasy and Disney Dream will return to Port Canaveral earlier than scheduled, both on Thursday. Disney Dream’s Sept. 8 and 11 cruises are canceled, along with Disney Fantasy’s Sept. 9 cruise.

Passengers will be getting partial refunds for the shortened voyages and full refunds plus 25% discounts on future cruises.

Carnival Cruise Line canceled the Galveston-based Carnival Liberty’s Sept. 7 and Carnival Victory’s Sept. 8 departures. (Both ships had also been impacted by the previous hurricane, Harvey.) Full refunds will be provided.

Royal Caribbean canceled Enchantment of the Seas’ and Majesty of the Seas’ Sept. 8 Bahamas cruises, as well as Empress of the Seas’ Sept. 9 Cuba cruise. Passengers will get a full refund and a 25% future cruise credit if a new sailing is booked in the next 30 days.

The returns of the current sailings of Oasis, Harmony and Allure of the Seas will be delayed until the storm has passed. ‘Due to the unpredictability of the storm, we plan to keep all of our guests currently sailing on these ships safely out of harm’s way,’ the company said late Tuesday.

Harmony’s Sept. 9 eastern Caribbean cruise will now sail Sept. 12 as a four-night voyage to Cozumel. Allure’s Sept. 10 western Caribbean cruise will now depart Sept. 13 and becomes a four-night sailing to Nassau. Oasis of the Seas’ Sept. 10 eastern Caribbean cruise will sail Sept. 12 and is changed to a five-night itinerary including Costa Maya and Cozumel.

Varying levels of compensation including partial refunds and future cruise credits will be applied.

Norwegian canceled Norwegian Sky’s Sept. 8 three-day Bahamas cruise and Norwegian Escape’s Sept. 9 week-long eastern Caribbean cruise, both from PortMiami. Passengers will get a refund plus a 50% future cruise credit.

Meanwhile, Norwegian Escape’s current cruise is being shortened to five days. Instead of calling at Costa Maya on Wednesday and Cozumel on Thursday, the ship was to sail for Miami Tuesday evening, to arrive Thursday afternoon. Passengers who live in South Florida who drove to PortMiami or those who have travel plans confirmed that will return them safely home by Friday afternoon may disembark the ship on Thursday if they wish.

Those who did not drive to the port and are unable to secure a flight back home are strongly encouraged to stay on board the ship, which will sail Thursday evening on a course away from the storm. ‘While we are unable to confirm at this time when and where the ship will return to port, we welcome all guests to remain on board to stay safe and secure,’ the company said Tuesday afternoon.

All passengers will get a refund for the missed days of their cruise, along with a 25% future cruise credit. Those who need to make flight changes will be reimbursed for any change fees up to $300 per person.

In addition Norwegian Sky’s current four-day Cuba cruise will be shortened by a day. Instead of calling at Great Stirrup Cay on Thursday, the ship will sail for Miami following its departure from Havana Wednesday, to arrive Thursday morning. Passengers will get a refund for the missed day of their cruise, along with a 25% future cruise credit. Flight change fees will be reimbursed up to $300 per person.

In addition, Royal Caribbean confirmed five cruises are planned to depart as scheduled: Grandeur of the Seas’ and Vision of the Seas’ Sept. 7 Canada/New England cruises, Adventure of the Seas’ Sept. 9 southern Caribbean cruise, Liberty of the Seas’ Sept. 10 western Caribbean cruise and Serenade of the Seas’ Sept. 10 Canada/New England cruise.

These changes follow others reported earlier.

Forecasters warn Irma could bring life-threatening wind, storm surge and rainfall hazards to portions of the Leeward Island beginning later Tuesday and the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico beginning Wednesday. Hurricane watches are also in effect for portions of the Dominican Republic and Haiti, the southeastern Bahamas and Turks and Caicos, and Irma could directly affect the rest of the Bahamas and Cuba as an ‘extremely dangerous’ major hurricane later this week.

In South Florida, the Coast Guard captain of the port notified PortMiami, Port Everglades and the Port of Palm Beach that Condition Whiskey will go into effect at 8 a.m. Wednesday, with the onset of gale force winds predicted within 72 hours from then.

— From Seatrade Cruise News

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