Atlantic and Caribbean hurricane season runs from June 1st through November 30th each year. Is cruising during this time frame worth the risk? Definitely, but with one caveat. Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.
Are all Caribbean destinations at risk?
Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a hurricane-free island in the Caribbean. Islands such as the Bahamas and the British Virgin Islands are often the hardest hit, whereas southern Caribbean ports like Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao are usually out of the way of most major storms.
Will I be safe on a cruise ship?
The most important thing to know about cruising during hurricane season is that no cruise line will willingly put you or its ship in danger. When faced with a hurricane in its path, a cruise ship simply alters its itinerary to sail around the bad weather. Cruise ships can typically “outrun” a hurricane — storms tend to move about 8-10 knots, while ships can attain speeds of up to 22 knots and beyond. Of course, sometimes a vessel will still encounter rough seas, wind, and rain despite having changed course, so always pack your seasickness remedies just in case. Today’s cruise ships are built to withstand the harshest environments and are equipped with instruments that help predict weather patterns. Cruise lines work hard to keep you safe, so come prepared and go with the flow.
It makes no matter if you leave from Florida, Texas or fly to the Caribbean to begin your cruise, there’s always the possibility that a major weather system may interrupt your plans. Hurricane season is a good time of year to build an extra day or two into your vacation. Aim to arrive in port a couple days early in case unexpected delays arise.
What are the chances my cruise will be cancelled?
Rare, extremely rare. Again, cruise lines will typically change routes and alter their itineraries a bit to keep the cruise fun going. If a cruise is actually canceled, you will get a refund.
Strongly consider travel insurance
Hurricane and severe weather cancellation refunds are available with some insurance providers. Word of the wise: you need to read the fine print very carefully! Make sure to be clear on what weather situations will be covered and what issues are not covered. If you’re sailing during hurricane season, it’s always wise to purchase travel insurance to save you from forfeiting the entire cost of your vacation should a hurricane interrupt your plans. Do your research, discuss it with your travel agent, and decide whether purchasing a policy through a third-party insurance company or via your cruise line is best for your cruise needs.
As a general rule, cruise line passengers are not entitled to compensation for storm-related itinerary changes. In the event that a scheduled port is replaced with another port, the line isn’t obliged to give you anything — but if there’s no replacement port added to your sailing, the cruise line will refund any port charges for missed ports.
Book that cruise…but be a proactive traveler! If your cruise seems to be lying directly in the path of a storm, contact your travel agent — or the cruise line directly — and get advice and updates.
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Written by Casey Cote: Casey Cote is a travel agent with Destinations to Explore. She loves planning incredible vacations at no cost to you. To book your next cruise, all-inclusive resort vacation, family getaway or honeymoon, contact at Casey@destinationstoexplore.com. You can also find her on Facebook!