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One of the worst seasons in memory.
The hurricane season of 2008 is the worst one in my memory as far as the impact upon cruises is concerned. Fortunately, no one on a cruise ship has been hurt, but there has been loss of life and property in some of the popular Caribbean destinations such as Jamaica and the Dominican Republic.
Carnival has changed ten different itineraries based on the paths of both hurricane Gustav and tropical storm Hanna. Royal Caribbean changed four ship routes and NCL changed one. This is more changes in the same week than I have ever seen. Some lucky people, on Carnival Fantasy which homeports in New Orleans, have had their four-day cruise extended into a six-day voyage, many of those days at sea. The ship is actually sailing in and out of Mobile, Alabama, instead of New Orleans these days and that is where it will end its current cruise on Wednesday.
Passengers on Carnival Ecstacy, which homeports in Galveston, TX, are also getting two extra days added to their voyage and will receive a 50% refund on their current cruise and a 50% discount on a future one. That essentially adds up to a free cruise, plus two extra days on the current one. Guests on Fantasy get a 25% refund and a 25% future discount.
One of the most interesting and extensive itinerary revisions is NCL's Norwegian Spirit six-day cruise out of New York City. Because of the current expected path of Tropical Storm Hanna, forecasted to pass near the islands of the Bahamas, NCL altered the itinerary from a six-day Bahamas & Florida sailing, departing New York on August 31, 2008, to a call on the island of Bermuda. No compensation is being offered.
Cruise lines are not required to offer any compensation to passengers because of itinerary changes. If they offer any it is usually out of consideration for their guests being inconvenienced in terms of air arrangements, as in the case of Fantasy and Ecstacy changing the originally scheduled arrival date.
I once had one less-experienced cruiser write to me that she was upset her itinerary had been changed but the cruise line didn't give her a free cruise, even though she got all seven days and visited other equally interesting islands. I couldn't resist asking her if she really would have preferred going through 20-foot seas to the scheduled island experiencing 120-mph winds at the time.
In other words, according to your cruise contract cruise lines sell cruises - not passage to specific destinations. And they are not responsible for the weather.
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