NASSAU, Bahamas, Oct. 3, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism (BMOT) has fully activated its Emergency Coordinating Committee at the British Colonial Hilton in Nassau, in preparation for Hurricane Matthew. The committee represents a cross-section of the Ministry of Tourism that includes senior management and other officers who will monitor the storm's movements.
BMOT's crisis management team is liaising with the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA), Nassau Airport Development Company, the Port Authority and other relevant authorities.
"All hotels and resorts throughout The Islands Of The Bahamas have activated their hurricane programs and are taking all necessary precautions to protect visitors and residents, as safety remains the highest priority," said Director General, The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, Joy Jibrilu.
It is important to note that The Bahamas is an archipelago with more than 700 islands and cays, spread over 100,000 square miles. There could be a tropical storm or hurricane warning for the southern islands and the central and northern islands remain unaffected.
Currently there is a hurricane warning in effect for the islands of the southeast Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands, which includes the islands of Mayaguana, Inagua, Crooked Island, Acklins, Ragged Island, Long Cay and Samana Cay, according to the Bahamas Department of Meteorology.
A hurricane warning means that hurricane conditions could affect the mentioned islands within 36 hours.
A hurricane watch is also in effect for the islands of the central Bahamas, which includes the islands of Long Island, Cat Island, Rum Cay, San Salvador and the Exumas.
A hurricane watch means that hurricane conditions could affect the mentioned islands within 48 hours.
A hurricane alert remains in effect for the northwest Bahamas. This includes the islands of Eleuthera, New Providence, Andros, the Berry Islands, Bimini, Grand Bahama and Abaco.
A hurricane alert means that hurricane conditions could affect the mentioned islands within 60 hours.
At 8 a.m., Hurricane Matthew was located 220 miles southeast of Jamaica, 390 miles south-southwest of Inagua and 681 miles south-southwest of New Providence.
The storm is moving north at six miles per hour with some increase in speed expected on Tuesday.
Matthew is expected to approach Jamaica and southwestern Haiti tonight, and begin to affect Inagua and the Turks and Caicos Islands on Tuesday morning.
Carnival Sensation: On the October 1 departure, the ship will no longer call at Half Moon Cay and Grand Turk and instead it will visit Mexico's Costa Maya on Monday, October 3, and Cozumel on Tuesday, October 4.
Carnival Ecstasy: The ship, which is scheduled to depart Sunday from Charleston, South Carolina, canceled calls to Half Moon Cay, Nassau and Freeport, replacing them with one stop to Cozumel and days at sea. The ship will sail one hour early to keep ahead of the storm. Passengers on this sailing will receive 25 percent future cruise discounts and $50 credits to be used onboard. Passengers also have the option of canceling the cruise and receiving full discounts.
Carnival Victory: While the ship will visit the originally scheduled ports, the itinerary order has changed to avoid the storm. Victory, which is scheduled to leave Port Canaveral on Sunday for a Bahamas cruise, now will visit Nassau on Monday and Freeport on Tuesday.
Carnival Elation: Elation will leave from Jacksonville on October 3, as scheduled, but it will visit Key West on October 5 instead of Half Moon Cay, and it will skip Nassau on October 6. Passengers will visit Freeport on October 7, originally scheduled as a sea day.
All other Carnival sailings departing on or after October 2 are expected to operate as scheduled.
Enchantment of the Seas: Both ports in the Bahamas have been canceled on the October 3 cruise and the ship will now go to Cozumel. The revised itinerary is for departure from Miami at 4 p.m. followed by a day at sea, arriving at Cozumel at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, October 5, until 2 p.m. The next port of call is Key West on Thursday, October 6 from 1.15 p.m. to 7 p.m. before returning to Miami on October 7 at 7 a.m.
Freedom of the Seas: To avoid Hurricane Matthew, the ship will visit San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Tuesday instead of Coco Cay, the originally scheduled call.
Majesty of the Seas: The ship will leave as scheduled October 3 but will stop at Key West on October 5 instead of Nassau, the originally scheduled port of call.
Norwegian Sky: The ship will leave Miami as schedule October 3, but it will visit Key West on October 4 (rather than Freeport) and Cozumel (instead of Nassau) on October 5.
Disney Dream: Scheduled to leave Port Canaveral on October 3, Disney Dream will skip its scheduled call at Nassau on October 4, substituting a day at sea. The ship will visit Cozumel on October 5 rather than Castaway Cay, its originally scheduled port stop.
Regarding flight services, the Lynden Pindling International Airport on New Providence is operating normally today, the Nassau Airport Development Company said.
The BMOT is maintaining contact with all of its offices, representatives and visitors in the family of islands as Hurricane Matthew approaches.
The Islands Of The Bahamas will be releasing updates on the tracking of Hurricane Matthew on Bahamas.com/storms but we encourage everyone to access the National Hurricane Center and the Weather Channel for latest updates. For more information on Hurricane Matthew and The Islands Of The Bahamas, travel professionals and consumers are advised to access the following: The National Hurricane Center at nhc.ncoaa.gov and the Weather Channel at www.weather.com.
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Source:Bahamas Ministry of Tourism