Update: Carnival has announced that the Carnival Elation and the Conquest will stay at sea and will arrive back in New Orleans on Monday.
Tropical Storm Karen has formed just north of the Yucatan Peninsula and is moving north-northwest in the Gulf of Mexico at 12 mph. TS Karen currently has maximum sustained winds of 50 mph and is expected to strengthen into a hurricane by the weekend. Tropical storms become hurricanes when maximum sustained winds exceed 74 mph.
TS Karen brought heavy rain earlier in the week to the Cayman Islands, parts of Jamaica, Cancun, Cozumel, and Cuba.
This is the 11th tropical storm of the 2013 hurricane season that has been relatively quiet. Only a few of the storms has caused minor changes to cruise itineraries and there have been only 2 short lived hurricanes. Neither hurricane made landfall.
Cruise lines have made a few changes due to TS Karen. The Carnival Elation and the Carnival Conquest will stay at sea for an extra day or two. The Elation was scheduled to be back in New Orleans on Saturday and the Conquest on Sunday. Both ships are expected to arrive back in the Big Easy on Monday. Carnival said that passengers on the delayed sailings will not receive compensation since the delay is weather related.
Passengers who are on the shortened Carnival Elation will receive a 50% refund and a 50% certificate towards a future 3-5 day cruise. Those on the Conquest will receive a 1 day prorated refund.
Cruise ships that are in the Gulf of Mexico will likely experience rougher waters than normal and the captains of the ships will keep the ships at a safe distance from the storm. The current track has the storm making landfall in Alabama, away from cruise ports.
At this time, it is very unlikely that any cruises will be canceled from this storm. Cancellations of cruises are rare as the cruise lines will change the ports of call to keep the ships away from the storms so that the ships can sail as scheduled.
For the latest on Tropical Storm Karen, visit the National Hurricane Center.
Cruise Fever will continue to monitor Tropical Storm Karen and will announce any changes to itineraries that are made with Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Norwegian, Disney, Princess, and every other major cruise line.