Cruising during hurricane season? Here’s what you need to know prior to your cruise vacation.
A common concern when booking a cruise during hurricane season (officially June 1st through November 30th, with peak storm activity from August through October) is the weather, and how it might affect your travel plans. In an average year, there are eight to ten named storms, about two thirds of which will develop into hurricanes. Unless you’re planning a cruise outside the hurricane belt, it’s possible there might be an active storm during your trip – but it should be reassuring to know there is a significant amount of planning on the part of the cruise lines to ensure it has little to no impact on the enjoyment of your vacation.
The primary tool the cruise lines have when it comes to dealing with storms is information. In addition to all the precautions that will be taken to ensure your ship won’t cross the path of a storm before you even leave your home port, they will monitor radar changes on the fly with modern satellite equipment, and make changes to an itinerary whenever necessary.
In most cases, the ships will simply change their itinerary to avoid a storm. These diversions may be focused on avoiding the path of the storm – thus keeping you and your fellow passengers out of harm’s way – or avoiding the aftermath of the storm, for example, if a location has been left without electricity. It is not uncommon that the ship will divert and skip a particular port of call for these reasons. The ship may dock in another location. You’re probably familiar with the expression “any port in a storm” – so you may find yourself checking out another city where their port had availability! Alternately, the ship may stay at sea, anchored in calm waters.
There are also times when ships may choose to cruise in a reversed itinerary, if this option will allow them to avoid the storm’s path. And, some will change the itinerary entirely, for example, embarking to Western Caribbean destinations like Cozumel and Riviera Maya instead of Eastern Caribbean destinations like the Bahamas (or vice versa) if the storm is expected to traverse a large path during the cruise’s schedule.
It’s also worth knowing that even if the storm makes a sudden change, modern boats can easily get out of its way. A typical hurricane will putter along at a speed of about ten knots, but cruise ships can easily move at twice this pace.
Overall, if you are flexible, booking a cruise during hurricane season may work out to your advantage. Travel deals often abound during peak season, and while you may end up visiting different ports, or a slightly different order of ports, than you originally planned, it should have little to no impact on your enjoyment. And if you’re still concerned, there’s always the option of purchasing travel insurance, so that you’re covered – just look for a policy that covers weather-related events.