Hurricane Season Cruises: What To Know Now And Later

Hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30 of each year.  That’s the time when hurricanes are most likely, although end of season sees the majority of storms.  Each year brings a unique mix of tropical disturbances, most of which never make hurricane status. It’s a variable that cruise travelers should consider but surely not one to prohibit sailing this part of the year. Still, booking hurricane season cruises armed with the facts is a far wiser decision.

Lower Pricing
Historically, hurricane activity increases in August, and peaks in early September, then again in October.  Statistically, we can avoid the lion’s share of trouble by not booking hurricane season cruises at all, and many travelers simply don’t. Cruise lines know that too and commonly offer lower pricing for that reason, along with the fact that kids are back in school which reduces the number of families available to sail anyway.

hurricane season cruises
Photo- Chris Owen

Actually Kids Are Often In The Driver’s Seat
If avoiding children is a priority, hurricane season cruises can bring one of the best times of the year to sail.  Kids are back in school, so fewer will be on board.  Extend that thought to other times of the year when school is out as well.  December is also one of the most economical times to sail, with the exception of weeks that include holidays.  Historically the least expensive week of the year to sail on a large ship with a family focus: the first week of December.

Hurricanes Are Part Of The Cruise Business
Obviously, ocean cruise lines do business in the waters affected by hurricanes.  They too have statistics on hand for how many itineraries are apt to be affected by named storms and know from year to year, some will.  In place are contingency plans to provide an experience that meets or exceeds the expectations of cruise travelers at any time of the year, including hurricane season.  Due to the unpredictability of hurricanes, these plans include modifying itineraries to stay out of the way of a storm’s path; the most common effect experienced.

Be Flexible And Determined To Enjoy Travel,  Or Don’t Go
Understand that the cruise line can and will change the itinerary in order to keep out of harm’s way.  As mentioned, that might mean skipping a port or modifying an itinerary.  Does the idea of that change bother you to the point that a modified itinerary will ruin your vacation?  If so, hurricane season cruises might not be for you.  Actually, if having every single part of the day go exactly as planned is a priority, travel at any time of the year might also not be for you.

Know The Hurricane Lingo, Track The Storms
Like so many travel topics, understanding the real vs. potential vs hyped threat of a hurricane disrupting cruise plans needs to be based on accurate information. TV weather reporters are often looking for a sensational story that will keep us tuned in.  Turn to reliable unbiased sources for everything from defining terms used in the world of hurricanes to tracking storms in development, their likely track and more.  The National Hurricane Center provides reliable information, the latest satellite imagery and more.

Hurricanes Not The Only Possible Disruption
Cruise lines modify itineraries more commonly for other reasons than a hurricane bearing down on their ships.  Ships calling at the beautiful island of Grand Cayman in the Cayman Islands often skip the port due to rough seas.  Running tender operations back and forth to the ship is simply too dangerous.  Ships calling at the port of Galveston, Texas are often delayed due to fog in the area that makes navigation unsafe.  Also possible to be disrupted: Your flight to the embarkation port or just flying in general.  Like when winter storms hit one part of the country, creating a cascading series of flight delays and cancellations affecting flights in entirely unaffected places, so do hurricanes.

hurricane season cruises
Photo- Chris Owen

Cruise Travel Value Highlighted By Hurricane Season
If comparing a week at a Caribbean resort vs. that time on a cruise ship, the cruise usually comes out ahead with travelers on the topic of value.  During hurricane season, another factor comes into play and is rather simple:  If a hurricane comes, your cruise ship can and will move out of the way.  Your island resort vacation was just cancelled.

Count On The Cruise Line To Do The Right Thing, At The Right Time
We have yet to see a cruise line not make accommodations for weather-related events to the best of their ability.  Most often a modified itinerary will be sailed.  Cruise lines commonly run itineraries backwards, shuffle ports or spend an extra day at sea, away from harm. However they go about dealing with each individual situation, cruise lines want us to feel confident that their reaction to a weather-related event will be appropriate.

Concerning  Travel Insurance
Generally speaking, in the event of a covered hurricane or other unforeseen severe weather, travel insurance provides coverage under the Trip Cancellation and Interruption benefit. If your trip is cancelled for a covered reason, travel insurance may refund the pre-paid, forfeited, non-refundable trip costs trip up to the limit of coverage.   Cancel For Any Reason elements of cruise line insurance commonly allow travelers to cancel and receive a credit equal to a certain percentage of what was paid to use on a future cruise.  The golden rule of travel insurance: never assume coverage details.  Also important: You must buy insurance before the storm is named, sort of like coverage for pre-existing medical conditions.

Reality Check
Booking hurricane season cruises does indeed mean that disruption to your travel plans are more likely.  Does it mean your cruise will be a horrible experience?  Not necessarily, if prepared for the worst and flexible enough to make the best of whatever comes our way.


Chris Owen
Chris Owen
Chris Owen is a travel writer from Orlando Florida who shares frank, inside information about cruise vacations with fellow Cruise Addicts.

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