CocoCay, Castaway Cay, and Great Stirrup Cay Could See Damage From Hurricane Dorian

Note: The Bahamas needs your help. See our article on how you can donate to relief efforts.

Update #5: Is appears that Disney’s Castaway Cay — despite being closest to the center of the storm — doesn’t have too much damage and will be able to reopen soon. The company released the following statement:

“All is well at Castaway Cay. Due to the tropical storm conditions the island experienced, we have some cleaning up to do related to landscaping and will need to make minor repairs to the roof of one small covered pavilion area. We are awaiting the arrival of survey equipment to evaluate the pier and ship channel, as is required after any storm, before we are able to reopen Castaway Cay to guests.”

Update #4: Regarding CocoCay, Royal Caribbean just announced that it will has moved the anticipated re-opening from September 4th to September 7th.

“We closed CocoCay on Wednesday, August 28th, 2019, and had originally planned to reopen it on Wednesday, September 4th, 2019. However, as the majority of the Bahamas has been impacted, we’re assessing the damage from webcams on CocoCay – not seeing the full picture. So, our team of experts is making their way there on Wednesday, which is when they’ll evaluate the extent of the damage. Currently, our hope is to be up and running on Saturday, September 7th, 2019, but we won’t really know if it’s ready for normal operation until the entire island is assessed. In the meantime, we’ve secured alternative ports for some of our sailings.

Our CocoCay Team is made up of over 400 people, and most are locals. So, it’s important that we account for all of them and give them the time to properly take care of their families and homes during this devastating time.”

Update #3: Royal Caribbean’s James Van Fleet just posted what we believe are the first pictures of CocoCay.

The photos show an island that’s been battered by wind and rain, but appears amazingly intact. The second photo of the island’s balloon (deflated) also shows some rooftops with damage, but there is surprisingly little debris. There also appears to be little structural damage from these photos.

Royal Caribbean had said the island would re-open on September 4th. We will have to see if that schedule stays since Dorian is still in the area. However, these first photos show that much of the island looks intact.

Update #2: Disney Cruise Lines released the following statement regarding Castaway Cay:

“Many of our Guests have asked questions about Castaway Cay. Some of our Crew remained on the island and their care and safety is our highest priority. As forecasted, sustained winds on the island did not extend beyond tropical force strength and our Crew has returned to their living quarters after spending a few hours in our storm shelter yesterday. Our thoughts continue to be with the people in areas of The Bahamas that are being impacted by this storm and we stand ready to contribute to recovery efforts.”

Update: We found the following map from the National Weather Service and NOAA, which show the estimated area of winds during the storm. Keep in mind this chart doesn’t account for gusts, which will be greater at times. Nor does it account for the slow-moving nature of the storm, which has sat over the area for hours.

The blue area is tropical storm-force winds (>39 mph), the green area is more than 58 mph, and the brown area are hurricane-force winds (>74 mph). From these maps it appears that the islands missed the full power of the storm, but still saw heavy winds for hours on end.

Dorian wind chart

As well, Royal Caribbean’s James Van Fleet posted the following, saying that he advised Category 3 winds (>110 mph) at CocoCay:

Original Article — The big news in the weather world is without a doubt Hurricane Dorian. What was originally forecasted to be a relatively small storm has grown into a monster hurricane. At last notice, the storm has sustained winds of 185 mph as it made landfall over the northern islands of the Bahamas.

While a storm of this size and strength hitting any land would cause catastrophe, it’s made worse by the fact that Dorian is slowing. Currently the storm is moving west at just 7 mph. In other words, it will take about 14 hours for the storm to move just 100 miles. That means areas hit by the storm are being hit hard and for an extended period of time.

We’ve already seen some videos of reported damage in the Bahamas. It’s nothing short of catastrophic:

The impact will be felt far and wide. We’ve kept people updated with cruise line changes that have been made already. However, a number of islands in the Bahamas operated by the cruise lines are also impacted. Specifically, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, and Disney have islands that are all extremely close to the storm.

CocoCay, operated by Royal Caribbean, is currently about 55-65 miles away from the eye of Hurricane Dorian. The island recently underwent a complete transformation costing hundreds of millions of dollars and is said to be able to withstand powerful hurricanes.

As of last night, James Van Fleet — Royal Caribbean’s meteorologist — posted to his Twitter account a forecast of wind gusts reaching nearly 100 miles per hour on CocoCay. No matter how well built, an island seeing that sort of wind (along with rain and waves) is likely to see some damage.

Right next to CocoCay is Great Stirrup Cay, part of the Norwegian Cruise Line family. It’s about the same distance to the storm.

However, CocoCay and Great Stirrup Cay are not the closest cruise line islands. The closest is Disney’s Castaway Cay. It sits just about 25-35 miles from the center of the storm. Meanwhile, the latest reports say that hurricane-force winds extend 45 miles from the center. That means Castaway Cay is in an extremely dangerous spot. In our opinion, anything this close to the storm could see heavy damage.

We likely won’t know the condition of any of these islands — and the rest of the Bahamas –for some time as the storm continues to crawl, impacting the entire area.

If you would like to donate to help in the upcoming recovery, the country has a hurricane relief webpage with instructions. At this time it’s not up-to-date, but we hope it will be soon.

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