Skip to main content

Travelers flee Hurricane Irene

By A. Pawlowski, CNN
Raging waves whipped up by Hurricane Irene batter the seafront in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, on Tuesday.
Raging waves whipped up by Hurricane Irene batter the seafront in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, on Tuesday.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Airlines are allowing passengers to change plans as Hurricane Irene approaches
  • Travel waivers mean you can make changes to your itinerary without a fee
  • Hurricane has also forced more than a dozen cruise ships to change their itineraries
  • Royal Caribbean evacuates CocoCay, its private island resort in the Bahamas

Editor's Note: Check out "Open Story: Hurricane Irene," a collaborative effort of CNN and iReport contributors who are documenting the storm as it moves across the Atlantic Ocean. Read more about Hurricane Irene from CNN affiliate WSAV.

(CNN) -- Leisurely vacations in the Caribbean have quickly turned into a race to get out of the region for tourists, planes and cruise ships in the path of Hurricane Irene.

The storm continued to pound the southeastern Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands on Wednesday.

As the huge hurricane churned northwest toward the United States, it forced more than a dozen cruise ships to change their itineraries, CruiseCritic.com reported.

Those ships include the Carnival Sensation, which had been docked in Freeport, Bahamas, but is coming back to Port Canaveral, Florida, on Wednesday night -- or several hours earlier than scheduled -- to stay out of harm's way, said Jennifer de la Cruz, a Carnival spokeswoman.

"It's ahead of the storm and it's fine," de la Cruz said.

"We monitor the storms closely and make strategic changes to the itineraries to keep them away from the storm. The nice thing ... is that there are a lot of destinations in the Caribbean, so we have lots of options."

Irene reaches Category 3 near Bahamas
East Coast prepares for Irene
FEMA: People need to be ready to act
Charleston mayor worried about surge
RELATED TOPICS

Meanwhile, Royal Caribbean evacuated CocoCay, its private island resort in the Bahamas, the cruise line said on its blog.

Port calls are not expected to resume in Nassau until Saturday, the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation said.

The dangerous storm has prompted the ministry to recommend "strongly" that people with plans to travel to the Bahamas in the next few days postpone their trips.

It also asked tourists already there to leave.

"Even though the hotels in the Bahamas are fully prepared to accommodate guests under these circumstances, the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation is strongly recommending that all visitors voluntarily evacuate the destination," the ministry said.

Tourists abandon Bahamas as Irene nears

The Bahamas Hotel Association's hurricane cancellation policy is in effect for travelers who need to postpone or cancel their vacation in the islands. The policy allows vacationers either to use their deposits or payments toward a future stay at the same property or request a full refund.

If you plan to fly in or out of the region this week, most carriers will let you change your itinerary without a fee.

United Airlines will allow changes for travel to, through and from more than a dozen airports in the Caribbean -- including San Juan, Puerto Rico; Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; and several locations in the Bahamas -- for travelers scheduled to fly through Friday. Continental Airlines has a similar policy.

Delta Air Lines is waiving change fees for travelers scheduled to fly to, from or through Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and the Bahamas through Thursday.

US Airways also has relaxed its change-fee policies for passengers scheduled to fly to or from several Florida cities -- including Daytona Beach, Fort Lauderdale and Miami -- through Friday.

The policy also applies for travel to or from the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and the Turks And Caicos through Sunday.

American Airlines has issued a travel waiver for passengers flying to or from more than a dozen airports in the Caribbean, including St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Providenciales in the Turks and Caicos through Friday.

JetBlue is waiving change/cancel fees and fare differences for fliers traveling to and from the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos.

Part of complete coverage on
Congress fights over FEMA funding
As rescuers raced to free people trapped by floodwaters caused by Hurricane Irene, Washington politicians bickered over how to pay for it.
How hurricane names are chosen
In another time, Hurricane Katia, which was barreling across the Atlantic early Wednesday, would have been called Katrina.
Irene reveals monument cracks
Small pools of standing water were found in the Washington Monument following Hurricane Irene, the National Park Service said, indicating undiscovered cracks.
Crews reach stranded Vermonters
Officials in the Green Mountain State said they have reached a dozen communities that were cut off by Hurricane Irene.
Rescuers among Irene's victims
Two would-be rescuers, a visitor from Macedonia and a Holocaust survivor are among the people who have died as a result of Irene, officials say.
State-by-state developments
Hurricane Irene lost much of its bluster over the weekend, but its destructive hit left a series of bruised states grappling with economic losses, floods and deaths.
Conservatives' attack on FEMA
Republicans in the House tried to severely slash 2012 spending for FEMA. Since then, the U.S. has been pelted by several major disasters and FEMA is almost out of money.
Praise for Irene response
After "Katrina" became shorthand for a botched response to a crisis, authorities at all levels are winning praise for their handling of Hurricane Irene.