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Extensive Hurricane Dean damage at Mexico's Puerto Costa Maya

Carnival Corp. has no plans to return to the Mexican cruise port at Majahual until at least the spring of 2009 due to extensive damage from Hurricane Dean, the company said.

Carnival, the world's largest cruise operator, is modifying itineraries away from the port at Majahual, known as Puerto Costa Maya, through its reservation period, which is open until spring 2009, company spokeswoman Jennifer de la Cruz said.

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. said it is adjusting its itineraries to avoid Costa Maya through April.

Royal Caribbean, second to Carnival in the cruise industry, is rerouting six ships that normally would stop at Costa Maya, company spokesman Raul Duany said.

Puerto Costa Maya suffered extensive damage when Dean swept over the Yucatan as a top-scale Category 5 hurricane on Aug. 21, 2007, demolishing houses, crumpling steel girders and washing away parts of concrete dock at the port.

Both Miami-based companies said they hoped to return to Costa Maya, but it would be up to port authorities there to determine when ships can return.

Costa Maya has become a popular destination since it began operating in 2001 to provide tourist access to historic Mayan sites. But it is not considered as critical to the industry as other Caribbean ports such as Cozumel or Grand Cayman.

Costa Maya can accommodate up to three cruise ships at once and is one of only six ports in the western Caribbean to receive more than 1 million passengers per year, according to the port's Web site.

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