The one positive for cruise lines during the health crisis is that disruptions due to hurricanes are much less of an issue. With ships out at sea and no passengers or itineraries, they are free to move anywhere to avoid storms during what’s been an active tropical season.
The same can’t be said of cruise ports. Case in point — Cozumel, Mexico looks to be in the direct path of a late-season tropical system.
Hurricane Delta was just a tropical depression less than two days ago, but it has quickly transformed into a major hurricane with sustained winds of 140 miles per hour.
#Hurricane #Delta went from a Tropical Depression to a Category 4 storm in just 30 hours. #Cancun / #Cozumel in the direct path of this very dangerous storm. #tropics #fox4weather @fox4 pic.twitter.com/nA1GO09kXJ
— Alberto Romero (@ARomero_WX) October 6, 2020
Currently the storm sits about 225 miles southeast from the coast of Cozumel, heading west-northwest at 16 mph. On the current track, the storm is set to hit the popular cruise stop sometime on Wednesday morning.
At this point the track looks to take dead-aim on the island, which is in the middle of the forecast cone. Evacuations for many places on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula are underway according to the governor of Quintana Roo.
Each year millions of tourists call on Cozumel from every major cruise line. This includes all the big names like Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian. In fact, the port is among the busiest in all of the Caribbean, with roughly 3.6 million passengers visiting annually.
If there is any good news with Hurricane Delta bearing down, it is that most of the population and development (including the multiple cruise piers) sit on the western side of the island, with about 11 miles between it and the mainland of the Yucatan Peninsula. This part of Cozumel is more protected compared to the eastern edge of the island, which faces directly out into the open Caribbean.
Hopefully, that will provide some protection from wind and storm surge. Even so, a Category 4 storm like Hurricane Delta could cause widespread damage.
Those interested in seeing what Cozumel looks like with the storm bearing down can see a port webcam here. At the time of this writing the weather looked reasonably good, but should deteriorate as the hurricane moves closer.
Potential Impact on the Port of New Orleans Too
Once the storm is past Cozumel, however, the wait is not done for those interested in the impact on cruising.
After passing Mexico, the National Hurricane Center forecast takes the storm into the middle of the Gulf of Mexico before making a hard right turn. From there, the tracking cone encompasses everywhere from the Texas/Louisiana border to the Florida Panhandle.
In the middle of that track is the Port of New Orleans, which has multiple terminals and is home to several lines, including Carnival, Norwegian, and Royal Caribbean.
It’s still too early to know for sure if the port will be in the path of the storm or how strong Hurricane Delta will be if it does hit. At this point the track shows a landfall in Louisiana early Saturday morning, more than three full days away.
In a twist of fate, among the most popular destinations for cruises from New Orleans is Cozumel.
Hurricane Delta and the impact it has on these two ports bears watching.