I’m sure we’ve all been watching the news about TS Isaac. I’ve been especially curious as I’ve been watching the storm’s impact on certain cruise itineraries. As you know, I just returned from a short Bahamas cruise which turned out to be blessed with terrific weather from beginning to end. Did I get lucky? Maybe. Nonetheless, I followed some rules that I follow everytime I cruise the Bahamas or Caribbean this time of year.
- While I didn’t purchase travel insurance for my most recent cruise because of the (low) price of the trip, I considered doing so, and would have purchased insurance without hesitation had I been traveling on a more extensive (and expensive) itinerary.
- I arrived in port at least 24 hours before my cruise.
- I monitored the weather situation (nhc.noaa.gov), monitored my cruise line’s website, and was primed to change my travel plans to fly a little earlier if necessary.
- I kept an open mind and was willing to be flexible if necessary.
Seems simple, and perhaps others aren’t able to be flexible. If so, I understand. But I also understand that cruising the Caribbean and Bahamas during hurricane season carriers certain potential complications. Your ticket “contract” with your cruise line is weighted pretty heavily in their favor, and if you read closely, you will see that the cruise line is really only obligated to provide you with room and board for the duration of your cruise. If they set sail for an island, but are diverted to another island or a day at sea by the weather, the only thing you are “entitled” to is a refund of the port taxes due at the port you missed. That said, cruise lines don’t necessarily want to totally hack you off, and will usually offer you a little something when you are inconvenienced by situations beyond their control and yours.
For example, Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas normally sails alternating eastern and western Caribbean cruises that begin on Sunday from Port Everglades. Allure could not return to port yesterday due to Isaac, so she remained at sea on Monday, and will not return to Port Everglades until early morning on Tuesday, August 28, 2012. Those on the last sailing are getting an extra 2 days of cruising while those that were to depart on Sunday will receive a shortened 5-night sailing. According to multiple threads on Cruise Critic, guests on the impacted sailings are receiving discounts on future cruises as well as onboard spending credit to help make up for the inconvenience.
Maybe I’m in the minority here, but I’ll take that deal even if I am a little disappointed that my vacation is being impacted. Realizing that not everyone loves to cruise as much as I do, I am sympathetic to those who have had their vacations negatively impacted by the storm. But a bad day on a cruise beats a good day at work most any time. What are your tips for cruising during hurricane season? “Don’t do it” does not count.