British holidaymakers in Jamaica were preparing for Hurricane Sandy yesterday after the storm’s path was projected to cross right over the Caribbean island. Tourists wanting to escape the island were trying to rebook their cancelled flights with other carriers after the international airports were shut down. However, others decided to stick it out with locals and were stocking up on hurricane essentials.
British Airways cancelled two services, and a spokesman said that Kingston airport is closed so they are rebooking passengers on other services. There is a flight scheduled to depart Jamaica on Thursday, and they hope it will be able to operate. He added that there could be delays depending the state of the airport. Virgin Atlantic announced that its Tuesday morning flight to Montego Bay wouldn’t depart until Thursday morning, while its Wednesday evening flight returning to Gatwick wouldn’t depart until Thursday afternoon.
Virgin Holidays says that it’s staying in touch with its resort teams to make sure holidaymakers are aware of the situation and any precautionary measures. Their priority is the safety of travellers, and they will continue monitoring the situation and helping customers as more information become available.
There have also been Caribbean cruise itinerary changes. Royal Caribbean decided its Allure of the Seas wouldn’t call on Jamaica on Wednesday and would instead spend an extra day at sea. The Carnival Valor skipped stops in Jamaica and the Grand Cayman Islands, choosing to stop in Mexico instead. The Carnival Pride and Carnival Glory made changes to their itineraries as well.
The Norwegian Pearl changed its schedule to call on Cozumel and Costa Maya on Wednesday and Thursday respectively and will return to Miami on Saturday as planned. The Norwegian Jewel planned to call on the Bahamas on Wednesday and South Carolina on Friday to return to New York on Sunday as scheduled. The Norwegian Sky cancelled its call on Great Stirrup Cay for Thursday and will spend an extra day at sea instead.
British holidaymakers have been taking advantage of cheaper package holiday deals outside the peak winter holiday season and were already experiencing rain before Hurricane Sandy approached on Wednesday. The storm is the 19th one named but the 10th hurricane this year. It was expected to be just a category one, but wind gusts can hit 80mph. Jamaican authorities weren’t taking any chances and imposed curfews in major towns to make sure people were off the streets as the passed over the island.
Tropical Storm Nicole killed 13 people and caused nearly £150 million worth of damage in Jamaica just two years ago. In 2004, the island was pillaged by Hurricane Ivan’s winds, but the current hurricane is the first where the eye has crossed over the island since 1988. Hurricane Gilbert was one of the worst storms of its kind ever, and nearly 50 people were killed when it passed through. Prime Minister Edward Seaga (at the time) said that the hardest hit areas looked like Hiroshima following the atom bomb. The damage didn’t stop there, as over 400 lives were lost and billions of pounds in damage were suffered across the entire region.