With Hurricane Florence sweeping through the US East Coast bringing with it heavy rains, strong wind and catastrophic floods, it brings the possibility of hurricanes during cruises back to the forefront of our minds.  Having seen or heard about the devastation caused by the hurricane, cruisers are asking whether it’s worth it to book a cruise to the Caribbean, Bermuda, Bahamas, Mexican Riviera or the rest of the US in hurricane season.

Hurricane Season

Our answer to this question is that yes, it is statistically worth it, if you are willing to take a small risk. You will be paying less for your cruise if you’re willing to take the gamble and the odds are very much in your favour of it not happening.  As long as you bear in mind that there is a very tiny chance of ruining your plans and have an alternative available, you will be fine.

Why a Hurricane is Unlikely to Ruin Your Cruise

The comforting truth is that encounters between cruise ships and hurricanes tend to be rare – and that even when one meets the other, the cruise ship can deal with the storm without too much worry.  Because of modern technology and current weather forecasting tools, cruise ships are able to navigate around storms with ease.  Big cruise lines like Royal Caribbean and others even created situation rooms, where staff members always monitor storms in peak season.

When Is Hurricane Season?

The season in the Atlantic runs between July and October every year although the official dates is from 1 June to 30 November.  If you’re thinking of going to the US East Coast or the Eastern Caribbean, the most affected times are between August and September.  If you are, however, thinking of going to the Western Caribbean islands, watch out any time between September and November.  This does not mean that hurricanes can’t strike outside of these times.  Each average hurricane season has between five to seven hurricanes, although some of these only take place over the ocean, far away from land or cruise itineraries, unless you’re on a transatlantic cruise.

Tips for Choosing a Cruise During Hurricane Season

  • Try to save money: Cruise lines offer discount cruises during hurricane season and if you’re willing to risk cruising during this time, you may as well save some money. While it’s fine to book a holiday during this time, try not to organise specific events such as weddings, birthdays or family reunions during this time. This way you can enjoy your holiday even if your cruise veers slightly off track.
  • Always be flexible: Have an alternative in mind and ensure that you will be able to make your flight to the cruise if a hurricane does strike. For instance, hurricane Florence is currently disrupting flights from North and South Carolina as well as surrounding areas.
  • Always buy insurance: We prefer booking independent insurance which offers year-round protection but no matter where you buy it, make sure that it covers weather-related incidents if you want to book a cruise during hurricane season.

How Do Cruise Ships Avoid Hurricanes?

Cruise lines will always prefer to avoid a storm rather than to confront it.  Remember that most of them have been covering the Caribbean and surrounds for decades, which includes sailing during the hurricane season.  Therefore, they have developed tactics to prevent hurricanes from ruining people’s cruise holidays.  Newer cruise ships are even safer as they are often bigger than their predecessors and have newer, more advanced ways of dealing with storms.

What’s most likely to happen is that your cruise will change its itinerary.  For instance, those on their way to the Eastern Caribbean will move to the west and vice versa.  If the cruise line struggles to get a new port to dock at you may spend a few more days at sea, where the waters will be smooth.

Will You be Compensated for a Missed Port or Cruise?

No, cruises departing in hurricane season will have fine print stating that your cruise itinerary may change in the event of a large storm.  You will be able to claim some refunds and taxes though but make sure to read the fine print ahead of booking a cruise during hurricane season.

It is really rare for a cruise to be cancelled because, as stated above, its quite easy to simply change the itinerary.  It will however be cancelled if the hurricane is striking the port that the cruise ship is starting off from for longer than a couple of days.  Even if the storm does strike the port of embarkation, for instance Fort Lauderdale, the cruise is often simply postponed by a few days.