East Coast readies for storm

PORT CANAVERAL, Fla. -- Hurricane Bonnie appears likely to skirt the central-north Florida coast on its way to the Carolinas, but heavy winds and high waves could force the closure of the cruise port here.

Carnival Cruise Lines' Fantasy and Royal Caribbean International's Nordic Empress were due to return to Port Canaveral early on Aug. 27, after operating four-night sailings to the Bahamas. Disney Cruise Line's Disney Magic and Premier Cruises' Big Red Boat were due to return Aug. 28, also from the Bahamas.

Carnival and Royal Caribbean said it was too early to announce any contingency plans. Miami-based ships operating earlier this week altered course, changed itineraries or shifted the order of port calls to avoid the storm.

Tourism inquiries were reported coming in to North and South Carolina coastal resort areas. "We are fine now, but we are tracking [Bonnie]," a spokeswoman for North Carolina's Outer Banks said.

Meanwhile, Caribbean officials were watching Danielle, the fourth tropical storm of the season. Latest reports placed Hurricane Danielle about 1,000 miles east of the Lesser Antilles, which include Anguilla and St. Barts.

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