It’s been a very quiet hurricane season so far, but Tropical Storm Karen’s development in the Gulf of Mexico reminds us that the season is still here. Hurricanes and tropical storms can and do impact cruise itineraries. Cruise lines usually respond by rerouting ships. In other words, if a storm is crossing over Cozumel on the day you are scheduled to visit, you are more likely to either find yourself spending a day at sea or on the other side of the Caribbean sea at another island. Ships that often alternate eastern and western Caribbean itineraries might head west if a storm is in the eastern part of the Caribbean and vice-versa.
The most important thing to remember (in my opinion) is that unless your port of embarkation is bullseye for a hurricane on the day you are scheduled to leave, your cruise is departing on time. Cruise lines will alternate itineraries, or delete port stops as necessary to avoid the storm and keep you in calm seas to the maximum extent possible, but they are going to sail. I have a few ideas for making your hurricane season cruise successful.
Travel to your port of embarkation at least 1 day early. I’ve often called arriving the night before your cruise “the cheapest travel insurance you can buy.”
Buy travel insurance as soon as possible after booking your cruise. Don’t wait until you see the news about a storm on TV. By then, it’s too late.
Be flexible. If your cruise is redirected to another destination, try to look at it as an unexpected adventure. Do not be “that guy” who yells at the staff because your ship’s Captain made a decision to stay safely away from a storm.
I’ve missed a few ports due to tropical weather or other weather phenomena during my cruising career. Following my “be flexible” advice is the best way not to let missing a particular island destination get you down. Enjoy your cruise!
-MJ, October 4, 2013