Cruising In Hurricane Season

| Thursday, 25 Oct. 2012

hurricane file photo

Hurricane season is upon us. It officially began June 1, and runs through November, though the peak usually occurs in October.

This year's hurricane season activity was predicted to be "normal" or "average", but of course there are no predictors to determine what the veracity will be of hurricanes that do appear.

From a cruise passenger's perspective the most important thing to know when considering a cruise during this season is that ship's do move faster than hurricanes.

The winds inside of a hurricane, and even extending to the outer bands around it, are certainly at higher speeds than cruise ships. However the speed with which hurricanes move across the seas is much slower. This means even the largest cruise ships are able to move relatively quickly away from the path of any hurricane.

Have you ever cruised through or during a hurricane? Tell us here: Hurricane Watch Forum

Of course, to move away from a hurricane means having early warning of the hurricane, and the path which it will travel.

This is where the cruise industry is always well prepared; combing communications with their own technological equipment, with national hurricane centers, and weather centers throughout the Caribbean, the most likely scenario is that you'll never find yourself on a ship in the path of hurricane.

Planning a cruise during hurricane season, it's imperative one understands that cruise lines will very commonly alter their set itineries – sometimes quite drastically – to avoid areas forecast to be directly affected by hurricanes. For example, if the forecast says areas of the Western Caribbean is likely to be impacted, the cruise lines may decide to sail the Eastern Caribbean, rather than take any chances with their ship or their passsengers.

So, as a potential passenger, one must be aware of these possibilities. Taking this into consideration it's very unwise to plan events, such as weddings in a particular port of call, that can not be easily cancelled ( with any deposits returned) in the event of the ship not making its scheduled port visit.

If you want to particularly sail on one itinerary, you likely don't want to cruise at all during hurricane season. Even outside of hurrricane season it is possible circumstances can cause the ship to alternate their itinerary slightly. However the chance of that happening increases somewhat significantly during hurricane season.

The summer months of hurricane season are also high demand months for passengers. As schools are out of session by that time, it creates a lot of demand from families, because that might be the only time of year they can cruise.

Historically the number of cruises where the itineraries had to be changed due to hurricanes is a very low percentage of total cruises sailed between June and November. However it is important to acknowledge the possibilty before you go.

The safest place for a ship to be during a hurricane is out at sea. Much more signicant damage can be caused if the ship is tied up at a pier. That is generally the only time a cruise might be cancelled, or delayed from sailing on scheduled; when a hurricane is predicted to hit a port the ship is scheduled to leave from (or return to).

Have you ever cruised through or during a hurricane? Tell us here: Hurricane Watch Forum

Actually totally cancelling a cruise due to those circumstances is quite rare. Because hurricanes don't usually linger over one area for too long, the more normal occurance in that situation, is to delay the sailing from the affected port for a day, or perhaps two. As well, the cruise lines will delay a cruise ending in a port forecast to be hit by a hurricane. They will keep the ship out at sea, delaying it's return. On rare ocassion they might change the port where the cruise will end, if the logistics are workable.

If the cruise line does cancel the cruise they will most likely reimburse you, or give you a free cruise on another date. However, this is at the discretion of the cruise line and compensation is not guaranteed.

I've personally cruised in the Caribbean during hurricane season several times. Only once was an embarkation city threatened on our scheduled day of departure, and the threat dissapated, and we were able to leave on schedule.

If you are able to cruise in the fall months, after schools are back in session, some of the best deals of the year are available from September through November. The cruise lines know there is a risk of the itinearies having to change, and basically, as a result, reward potential passengers for be willing to take that chance.

In the vast majority of cases, if you are on a cruise during hurricane season, other than the possible itinerary changes, it's most likely you won't even physically notice that you are cruising during hurricane season. And because you are taking the risk, you are getting outstanding value for your money cruising during that season.

In case you are wondering - if you decide you do not want to take the chance of cruising during a hurricane you have no financial recourse. No, the cruise lines will not refund your money or let you change your cruise date. Even travel insurance will not protect you because a hurricane falls into the "act of God" category. The only exception is to buy "cancel for any reason" travel insurance which is available when you book your cruise, but it costs more than regular travel insurance.

Have you ever cruised through or during a hurricane? Tell us here: Hurricane Watch Forum

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