Hurricane season runs from June 1st through November 30th, and—since that’s also prime vacation season for many people—major cruise lines continue offering vacations along the East Coast, Caribbean, and the Mediterranean during this time. But just because ocean liners are headed out to sea during hurricane season, does that mean you and your family should do the same?
There are actually some great advantages to cruising during hurricane season. For a lot of people, especially families with kids, late summer is the time when it’s most convenient to schedule a vacation. Regarding pricing, many cruise lines offer some great discounts that can make your vacation much more affordable than at any other time of year. And considering that the chances of being caught in the middle of a hurricane are relatively slim (since cruise ships can travel faster than these storms), there’s absolutely no reason to miss out on such great deals.
Of course, just because a cruise ship can outrun a hurricane doesn’t guarantee smooth sailing. Let’s look at a few of the things you should know before booking a cruise between June and November.
Hurricane Season Can Be Tough if You Have Motion Sickness
According to CruiseCritic.com, hurricanes typically travel at 8 to 10 knots while cruise ships can travel at 22 knots or more, so it’s not hard for cruise ships to get away from any area where a storm is brewing. But just because a cruise ship can outrun a tropical storm doesn’t mean it can avoid choppy water altogether. Hurricanes can be far-reaching, and you may find yourself traveling through the remnants of a storm that’s dying down. Even people who don’t normally experience motion sickness have reported feeling nauseated when cruising during hurricane season, so make sure that you pack some kind of motion sickness medicine to combat the rough sea.
There’s No Guarantee That You’ll Stick to the Itinerary
Bad news for people who like sticking to the schedule: hurricane season often disrupts cruise ships’ itineraries. You might miss a port of call, head to a completely different port, or even stay at sea longer than intended because the ship is trying to avoid hitting a hurricane. If you’re comfortable going with the flow and can add a few extra days into your vacation, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However, you should avoid booking shore excursions with independent vendors because you’re not guaranteed any reimbursement if your ship misses that port due to weather conditions. And you definitely shouldn’t make major event plans that hinge on your ship being in a certain place at a certain time, such as a family wedding in the Caribbean.
Pack for All Weather
Think you’re headed off on a sunny vacation to the Bahamas during hurricane season? You’d better pack your cold weather clothes just in case. Many passengers are surprised to hear that cruise lines are not obligated to stick to their itinerary, and they may change their route entirely if they think there’s any danger of hitting a storm on their original course. In 2005, one Royal Caribbean ship that was supposed to depart from New Jersey and head to the Bahamas actually went in the opposite direction, heading up the coast of New England and Canada. The cruise line was not obligated to refund cruise-goers for itinerary changes due to weather, as many disgruntled passengers found out too late.
Cruise Lines Will Leave Late Passengers at Port
In some cases, cruise ships may actually depart from their homeport several hours early in order to avoid inclement weather. That means passengers who haven’t yet arrived in that city are often out of luck. If you book air travel through the cruise line and miss the departure, the cruise will generally pay for your hotel and transport you to the next port of call so that you can meet the ship. However, if you don’t book air travel (which many passengers don’t, since it can be expensive), the cruise line is not obligated to pay hotel or transportation costs. The best way to avoid encountering this problem is to arrive in the city of departure a day early so that you can be prepared if the departure schedule moves forward.
Travel Insurance May Help You Avoid Getting Burned
If you’ve read through your cruise line’s policy and are worried that you won’t be reimbursed for weather-related issues, you may want to invest in travel insurance. Shop around for good prices through third parties, rather than just going with the often-expensive weather insurance offered by cruise lines.
Your cruise line should do everything in their power to keep passengers safe during hurricane season, but if you are injured or placed in danger, know that you can contact a cruise injury law firm to fight for compensation.
About the Author:
Andrew Winston is a partner at the personal injury law firm of The Law Office of Andrew Winston. He has been recognized for excellence in the representation of injured clients by admission to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, is AV Rated by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, and was recently voted by his peers as a Florida “SuperLawyer”—an honor reserved for the top 5% of lawyers in the state—and to Florida Trend’s “Legal Elite.” His experience in successfully handling numerous cruise ship accident cases recommends him as one of the most competent and skilled lawyer in the area of maritime personal injury law and wrongful death.