Cruise ships diverted as Irene hits hurricane status

Caribbean International have been forced to alter Caribbean itineraries in the face of a hurricane.

Irene is heading towards the cruise hub of Puerto Rico after hitting the island of St Criox with heavy winds and rain closing airports and flooding areas of the Leeward Islands.

The storm was upgraded to a hurriacane by the US National Hurricane Centre in Miami on Monday morning (August 22). Maximum sustained winds from the storm have reached 75 miles per hour.

The storm is due to reach the east coast of the Dominican Republic later today, prompting hurricane warnings on the Caribbean island popular with UK holidaymakers.

A state of emergency was imposed in the US Virgin Islands while other eastern Caribbean islands such as Antigua & Barbuda, St Kitts & Nevis, Guadeloupe and St Maarten were also affected.

Ships with revised itineraries include Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas and sister ship Allure of the Seas, Freedom of the Seas and Serenade of the Seas as well as Carnival Miracle.

Speaking before the storm was upgraded, The Puerto Rico Tourism Company said the island was under a Tropical Storm warning.

"All tourist information centres on the island will be available on a 24-hour-a-day basis to offer support to tourists," it said. "All hotels are operating as normal but have activated their contingency plans to protect guests and employees."

Although Luis Munoz Marin International Airport in San Juan is open, airlines have cancelled flights as a preventive measure.?"We recommend that arriving and departing passengers call their airline regarding any changes, delays or cancellations," the tour