The promise of sun, sand and the open ocean are the things that lure many a traveller on their first cruise holiday, but before you sail off into the sunset you might want to check the weather forecast. Depending on where you are travelling, hurricanes can be common at a certain time of year known as hurricane season. During these months, you are more likely to run into a storm on your cruise, so if you are planning to sail at this time of year it’s important to know what to expect.
Whilst you might be imagining howling gales and thrashing rain lashing against the hull while you cling on for dear life, cruise ships are actually incredibly safe in a storm, even in the unlikely event that you do run into one.
There are both advantages and disadvantages to booking a cruise during hurricane season, so we’ve put together this guide to give you the full low down on everything you need to know about cruising during hurricane season.
So, what is hurricane season? Around 97% of storms take place within certain dates, which vary depending on what part of the world you are in. For the Eastern Caribbean and the US East Coast, most storms happen between mid-August and mid-September. In the Western Caribbean they occur slightly later, between mid-August and early November.
Outside of these dates, it is extremely rare to come across a hurricane on your cruise. There are also parts of the world where you are much less likely to experience a hurricane, such as Alaska, Canada, or the Mediterranean. However, cruise ship captains are very accomplished at coping with hurricanes, so if you’re still determined to sail somewhere with a risk of hurricanes, there are a few things to expect.
Is the Ship Safe?
You’re very unlikely to find out how safe your cruise ship is during a hurricane, because the captain’s main tactic for dealing with a hurricane is to avoid it. Ships have extremely sophisticated equipment to monitor weather, including state-of-the-art satellites. This means that ships can identify a storm before they encounter it and either alter their itinerary or find a port to anchor in until it passes.
You are quite likely to experience rough weather as you skirt around a storm, but the worst part of the experience is likely to be missed port days. If a ship’s scheduled ports are threatened, you may find yourself at an alternative destination, or even just spending a few more days at sea. This means you may miss out on seeing somewhere that you were hoping to visit.
Grab a Deal
Hurricane season is actually a great time to book a cruise if you are hoping to get an amazing deal on a few weeks in the Caribbean. After the summer holidays have ended and the kids have gone back to school, you can get fantastically low prices on cruises that cross through the hurricane zone. Start looking in early June to get last-minute deals for trips between August and October.
Cruise lines will rarely, if ever, compensate you for missed flights or connections, missed ports, or other delays due to a hurricane. For this reason, you should purchase reliable travel insurance, rather than depending on compensation from your cruise company. Different insurance companies will offer different policies, so make sure you shop around for a policy that covers any costs incurred by your cruise ship missing ports, changing itineraries, or extending a cruise due to inclement weather.
Expect to be Flexible
The key to enjoying a cruise during hurricane season is to expect a change of itinerary and be flexible in your expectations. Don’t set your heart on visiting a certain port, as you might have to change course and it would be terrible to let a missed experience spoil all the new experiences the change has opened up. If you keep an open mind, you might find that a port you weren’t scheduled to visit actually turns out to be your favourite! Cruising during hurricane season is a fun adventure, so sit back, relax, and see where the ship takes you.
Pack for the Worst
Whilst you should always hope to avoid any storms at all during your cruise, it’s best to pack with the worst in mind when it comes to cruising in hurricane season. If you have to go quite far off your planned course, you may find that you have a few days of much cooler weather than you were expecting, so pack at least one pair of long trousers and a light jacket.
Also, should a few extra days be added to your cruise, you don’t want to get caught out unprepared. Either pack a few extra essential items such as pyjamas, basic tops, and underwear, or ensure that you do a load of washing early in the cruise. Everyone on a cruise that has overrun will also have begun to run out of clean laundry, so you’ll find that the laundry services are extremely busy as it gets to the last couple of days. Being prepared will mean that you can relax in the quiet bar while everyone else struggles to find a dryer near their cabin.
Now that you’re prepared for the adventure that is cruising during hurricane season, why not see if Cruise1st UK have a deal to suit you? Browse the full range of itineraries online or call our friendly sales team on 0808 274 6777.