Cruise lines scramble to change itineraries as Hurricane Matthew barrels towards Jamaica, Cuba

Cruise lines scramble to change itineraries as Hurricane Matthew barrels to Jamaica, Cuba

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Hurricane Matthew is slowly churning northward across the Caribbean and meteorologists say the powerful storm is expected to approach Jamaica and southwest Haiti by Monday night.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami says the dangerous Category 4 storm has top sustained winds near 215 km/h.

At 2 a.m. on Oct. 3, the hurricane centre update said the eye of Matthew is about 395 kilometres south-southeast of Kingston and 500 kilometres southwest of Port-au-Prince. The storm is moving to the north at 7 km/h.

A hurricane warning is in effect for Jamaica, Haiti, and the Cuban provinces of Guantanamo, Santiago de Cuba, Holguin, Granma and Las Tunas as well as the southeastern Bahamas.

A hurricane watch is in effect for Camaguey, the Turks and Caicos Islands and central Bahamas.

A tropical storm warning is in effect for the D.R. from Barahona westward to the border with Haiti and a tropical storm watch is in effect for the D.R. from Puerto Plata west to the border with Haiti.

Cruise lines including Carnival, NCL, Royal Caribbean, Princess Cruises and Disney Cruise Line have all altered itineraries on ships sailing in the region. According to Cruise Critic, ships impacted by the storm include Carnival Splendor, Carnival Sensation, Carnival Ecstasy, Carnival Pride, Carnival Victory, Carnival Elation, Norwegian Sky, Allure of the Seas, Adventure of the Seas, Enchantment of the Seas, Freedom of the Seas, Majesty of the Seas, Island Princess and Disney Dream.

On its website Disney Cruise Line said it is monitoring the weather conditions and predicted path of Hurricane Matthew closely and has adjusted the itinerary for the Oct. 3 sailing of Disney Dream. The revised itinerary is: Oct. 3 – Port Canaveral; Oct. 4 – Day at Sea; Oct. 5 – Cozumel; Oct. 6 – Day at Sea; and Oct. 7 – Port Canaveral.

“While it’s still too early to tell if any future itineraries will need to be adjusted due to Hurricane Matthew, we are always prepared to visit alternate ports or spend days at sea to ensure the safety and comfort of our Guests. We will continue to provide updates as they are available,” said the cruise line.

Matthew is one of the most powerful Atlantic hurricanes in recent history and briefly reached the top classification, Category 5, becoming the strongest hurricane in the region since Felix in 2007. The hurricane centre said the storm appeared to be on track to pass east of Florida through the Bahamas, but it was too soon to predict with certainty whether it would threaten any spot on the U.S. East Coast.

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