While many people will cruise during hurricane season without any inclement weather or disruptions to their cruise voyage, there always seems to be some cruises each year that have itinerary changes or rough seas because of hurricanes. Our goal is to help you plan for a cruise that could be potentially disrupted in some way by a hurricane or tropical storm.
Onboard The Cruise Ship During A Hurricane
If you find yourself onboard your cruise ship during a hurricane or tropical storm you do not need to panic. Many cruise ships will make an effort to avoid sailing into the storm and instead keep the ship in calmer waters. This is for the comfort of all passengers and the safety of the ship. However, this does mean cruisers onboard will not feel any motion. You may feel the ship rocking, but it should not be nearly as bad as the waters directly affected by the storm. The closer you are to the storm the worse the waves will be.
Your cruise ship may close the outside public decks as a safety precaution if winds are too high, the ship is rocking too much, or the ship deems there is a safety concern with letting people freely walk on the outside decks. Be prepared for this possibility, but keep in mind there are probably other things you can do in the interior spaces of your cruise ship. If there is rain outside most people will probably stay inside anyways.
I recommend bringing some medication or a safe remedy that will help you in the event you become seasick or ill because of the movement of the ship. Talk to your doctor about what remedies or medications may work best for you.
There Is A High Potential For Itinerary Adjustments & Port of Call Cancellations/Changes
Cruise ships will often avoid areas that will be affected by a tropical storm or hurricane, if possible. This could mean a cruise's itinerary could be altered. In the past, cruise lines have cancelled ports of calls and made that particular cruise day a sea day. In other cases, when possible, cruise lines have swapped a port of call with another port of call. There are many factors that go into a cruise line's decision when making itinerary adjustments.
Before Cruising: Could The Cruise Be Cancelled & How Would I Find Out?
Many cruise lines will make an effort to avoid cancelling a cruise, but in some cases cancelling is the only option a cruise line has. A decision to cancel a cruise could be based on the storm's expected landfall, how close landfall is to a cruise's departure date, port authority storm procedures, and more.
Many cruise lines will email guests about a cancellation or post information online. There are a few cruise lines that use a text alert system to give notifications to subscribed guests. If you feel like you are missing important information and a storm is likely to impact your voyage in some way, you should call your cruise line directly.
Before The Cruise: Can I Voluntarily Cancel?
The specific answer to this question will depend on your cruise line. In many cases, your cruise line will allow you to cancel, but not receive a refund. This is because you are voluntarily cancelling on a voyage that is still going to sail and you are held to the cruise line's cancellation policy. In some cases, cruise lines will show compassion and allow cruisers to cancel without a penalty, but this does not happen with all cruise lines. However, if the cruise is cancelled by your cruise line they should be providing you with a refund and compensation.
Driving To A Cruise Homeport Where The Storm Is Expected To Hit: Things To Do
If your cruise is still sailing and the storm is expected to make landfall around your departure port there are a few things you can do:
- Parking: Flooding could occur at the place you park your car. If you can, try to park in a covered parking garage on a level higher than the ground. This will help protect your car from some flooding, but is does not guarantee your car will be 100% safe. Your car could still be damaged by water in many ways, including higher than expected floodwater. Don't forget that the wind can damage your car or blow objects into the glass.
- Take Valuables Out Of Your Car: Before leaving your house to cruise, take valuables out of your car. You should not leave valuables in your car at any time, but in this case your car could be washed out from flooding or looted after the storm.
If You Live In the Storm's Impact Area - Prepare Your Home
If you live in the area the storm will affect or potentially destroy, you need to prepare your home before cruising. I recommend doing tasks such as unplugging electrical devices from the walls to minimize your loss from a power surge, boarding windows, and storing objects that could be damaged easily in a safer place. There may be other tasks you must complete depending on your home's location and your own personal storm preparation plans. Some people have to deal directly with flooding, high winds, and other things. Make sure you prepare your home to minimize any damage that may occur while you are gone.
Links To Further Your Hurricane Preparedness
National Hurricane Center: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/
I will be adding more links at a later time.