Many cruiser vacationers aren't aware August is the start of hurricane season on the East Coast and in the Caribbean. Cruise vacations are usually booked months in advance of the vacation, and news coverage isn't focused on what the weather might be months ahead. Major online booking agencies don't bother to advise consumers about it, either. But here we are, August, and we just experienced Irene in all her fury.
While the Caribbean has become a year-round cruise destination, it's not surprising that sometimes the better-priced cruise deals are during hurricane season. And many just take vacations between the months of August and October. So what do you need to know if cruising the Caribbean during this time of the year? And is it safe to plan a cruise vacation during this season?
One of the advantages of a cruise vacation is that a ship, unlike a hotel, is mobile. Cruise lines do not want to risk damage neither to their passengers nor their ships and crew, so they certainly avoid weather that's a threat to safety. They can move their ships if necessary. If a cruise line has advance warning of a disruption that requires a change in itinerary, they'll notify passengers and travel agents. As stated in their contract, a cruise line has the right to change an itinerary due to unforseeable situations, and substitute or skip ports of call in the best interest of safety.
If unforseen circumstances forces a change of return date or disembarkation port, that can affect one's return flight as well. When airfare is booked with the cruise line, the top rated cruise lines will generally provide assistance in rebooking airfare. If, as your cruise agency, we booked your airfare separately for better routing or pricing, we will assist with changing your air reservations. Any changes, of course, are subject to fees or penalties that may be imposed by the airline. However, airlines often waive such penalties in serious situations that disrupt travel.
Travel insurance is always important, and for the most protection, it's best to purchase "3rd party insurance." Check with your cruise travel agent on your best options for coverage.
So yes, there's some risk booking a Caribbean cruise that will depart in hurricane season. Certainly there's strong odds that nothing will impair your cruise vacation. And certainly you shouldn't be too concerned about staying safe on a cruise ship. But should severe weather occur, it's possible you may miss a port or two, experience delays, and have a wet and wild vacation experience.