This past week has been pretty stressful for a lot of people. My prayers go out to the wonderful people of the Bahamas who are still dealing with Hurricane Dorian. I cannot imagine the devastation left behind from this catastrophic storm.
But as I sit here today waiting on Dorian to pass, I want to talk about cruising during hurricane season. Hurricane season in the Atlantic runs June 1st through November 30th with peak really being the end of August to as far out as October. With that, you tend to see the lowest prices on cruises.
So should you book during hurricane season? I hear that question a lot and it’s a great question because it really depends on you. Yes the pricing can be ideal and save you a lot of money but are you flexible enough and ok with plans changing.
Lets talk about what happens when a storm is threatening to impact your cruise vacation. Neither the cruise lines nor the captain will take any chances and place you in harms way. So what impacts could you encounter if you are sailing during this time and a storm will impact your cruise.
There are really three scenarios you might see.
The storm is in the ships path or impacting one or more of the ports. In this case, you will likely see a change in ports or maybe an additional sea day. This is what happened to me this past week. We were scheduled to visit Puerto Rico on Wednesday but due to Dorian, we ended up with an additional sea day. Keep in mind, the cruise lines have the right to change a cruise port at any time. If they do, its usually for the safety of the guest and the crew and can happen on any cruise, storm or not.
Now in the case with this storm, ports like Miami, Port Everglades and Port Canaveral have been closed so ships cannot enter the port. In this case, you might see the sailing your currently on extended until the storm passes or shortened in order for the cruise line to get people home ahead of the storm. This really depends on the location and path the storm. Of course that will impact the next cruise so it might be shorter but don’t worry, the cruise lines will take care of you.
This happened to me in 2017 with Irma. I was scheduled to sail out on the Carnival Conquest for 7 nights, my first attempt at Puerto Rico, and Irma struck that week. Port Everglades was closed so the Conquest could not get in. I was offered a full cruise credit to cancel or take the shorter 4 night modified itinerary to Cozumel with a refund of the lost days. I chose for the cruise credit and went on the Vista that next April. Interesting story. I was speaking with a member of the crew on the Breeze last week and he was working on the Conquest at that time. He said only 400 people sailed on a ship that holds 3,000. Wow, that would have been awesome.
The last scenario that could happen is a full cancellation. This is the unlikely scenario and really is only going to happen if an embarkation port is closed. They can almost always divert to a different itinerary if need be. In this case, the cruise line would provide a full refund.
All of these scenarios of course depend on the storms path, location and forecast.
Here are some tips when sailing during hurricane season.
Purchase vacation protection. Now, I cannot go too much into insurance since I am not a license insurance agent, but here is an article on vacation protection for hurricanes. There are some overages for these circumstances.
Make sure the cruise line has your email and phone number so they can reach you with updates. With Carnival for example, you can sign up for text alerts. These alerts can be important because they can communicate changes in embarkation changes.
Be prepared for a possible change. Remember, you are sailing on a cruise ship in the ocean and hurricanes thrive in the ocean. Understand, there could be changes and the cruise line does not control the weather. I see so many people take their frustrations out on the cruise line employees and crew and it infuriates me.
Use a travel advisor like my self. We have been through these situations and can help guide you through what to do. Long hold times with the cruise line can just be frustrating so let us take that on for you.
Now this is for those on the coast. Make sure you are prepared at home for a possible storm. I returned from my cruise on Saturday after seeing on facebook stores running low on water and other supplies all week.
So do things like make sure your hurricane kit is ready and get gas before you park at the port or airport.
I do want to mention while on the Carnival Breeze, the Captain did an outstanding job keeping us informed on what was happening with Dorian. We had a specific channel on the tv in the cabin as well as on the scree near guest services. Plus, the captain provided updates throughout the day. I felt very comfortable on the ship despite being chased by a hurricane.
With all this being said, cruising during hurricane season is still great, especially as you get into September and October. The rates are lower than the summer, the weather is not as hot and not as many kids. So this is not to scare you out of cruising in the fall, just to give you an understanding of what to expect.
Have a great day and stay safe.
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