The recent hurricanes have wreaked havoc, affecting millions throughout the Caribbean, Florida, and Texas. These locales are also the home ports of many cruise lines and passengers have been left wondering what’s going to happen.
Hurricane season occurs in the Atlantic Ocean every year from June through November. Unfortunately, that season also partly coincides with summer vacations for you and many other people, so you will want to be aware of a few things if you are planning on spending some time on a cruise ship.
Here are a few things that you need to know about cruising during the hurricane season:
Approaching Hurricane While on the Ship
Cruise ships have very sophisticated technology, so they are capable of tracking any storm that pops up, including tropical storms and hurricanes. Once the crew notices a hurricane approaching, they can simply reroute the ship to another destination.
This rerouting can be disappointing to those passengers on the ship, especially if they end up staying in one port for multiple days and never seeing any of the other ones that were planned. However, they will be safe and can still have a good time.
While a cruise ship can take a detour around the storm, there are times when that may not be enough and the ship needs to return to port much earlier than anticipated. Of course, if returning to the home port is not safe, the passengers on board may find themselves on a slightly extended cruise.
Compensation if Itinerary is Changed
Cruise lines are not required to offer any refunds or other forms of compensation when the itinerary is changed due to a hurricane. There are times though when a cruise line will offer pro-rated refunds in the form of future cruise credits.
Any excursions that you book through the cruise line and are cancelled will be refunded to you, however, you may not receive a refund for any that you book through a private company. If you decide to book through a private company, you will want to read the fine print to see if you are eligible for a refund if your cruise is cancelled or doesn’t make it to that port.
Cancellation of a Cruise
There may be times when a passenger will want to cancel their cruise because they see a hurricane brewing out in the Atlantic. However, passengers that do this will not receive any refund from the cruise line.
A cruise line can cancel a cruise that is threatened by a storm, which happened with hurricane Irma not too long ago. If that happens, the cruise line can choose to reschedule the dates of the cruise or give the passengers a refund in the form of cruise credits. Certain cruise line will offer their passengers a refund to their original payment method.
Not every travel insurance policy is the same, so it is a good idea to choose one of the better ones. The best travel insurance plans will cover any trip delay, interruption, and cancellation that is caused by a major storm. The compensation that you would receive would be the amount that you paid minus any refund that you received from the cruise line.
No travel insurance plan is going to cover a change of itinerary though, so if you are on a seven-day cruise and end up spending those days in the Bahamas instead of the Western Caribbean you won’t receive any compensation.
Flights to and From the Port
There may be some difficulties with flights when there is a hurricane approaching, so many cruise lines recommend that you try to arrive in the area of the port a day or two in advance. This will help you avoid missing the ship. If this is not possible or you still run into problems, it is recommended that you call the cruise line to see if they can offer any assistance.
Of course, if you happen to be on a ship that arrives into port late, you may miss your flight home. There may be delays in the airport, due to the number of other people with the same issue or from the hurricane itself.
Since itineraries can change during hurricane season, you will want to pack so that you are prepared for any weather. The weather may not be as warm in the areas that you end up and it could even be cooler on the water due to the storm.
The chances of you cruising when there is a hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean is slim, but it could and does happen on occasion. The easiest thing to do would be to not book a cruise for hurricane season, but since that is not always realistic, you should opt for an excellent travel insurance plan instead.