August is my favorite month to cruise. Kids are back in school, it’s our anniversary month and there are some great deals to be had. August also happens to be one of the most active months of hurricane season. I promise I’m not crazy and I’m not some kind of extreme adventure junkie, I just have a weird affinity for cruising at this time of year.
Cruising During Hurricane Season
While cruising during hurricane season does come with some caveats, it’s not all bad if you have the right outlook. I’m answering some of the most common questions and sharing my experiences with cruising during hurricane season in this post.
When is Hurricane Season?
Along the U.S coast and Caribbean hurricane season officially runs June 1 – November 30 each year with the most active months being August and September (specifically mid-August to mid-September) in the Eastern Caribbean.
Is it dangerous to cruise during hurricane season?
No. You’re never in any real danger. The ship’s Captain has a responsibility to keep his ship, crew and passengers safe. The Captain is going to stay a safe distance from the storm and likely go around or behind the storm. Out of six cruises, four were booked during hurricane season (specifically August – September) and we never had any real issues.
In 2015, my husband and I were booked on a mid-August cruise on the Carnival Conquest. The week prior to our sail date Hurricane Danny was a concern. Carnival sent an email with an update. Being informed gave us a level of comfort and two days later, we boarded the ship on our scheduled sail date. One day into the cruise another hurricane became an issue.
Our original itinerary included stops in St. Maarten, St. Kitts, San Juan, PR and Grand Turk. Due to Hurricane Erin, our stops to St. Maarten and St. Kitts were canceled which was a bummer because it was the main reason we booked this itinerary. However, we understood that last-minute changes were always a possibility during hurricane season and the cruise line did a great job of keeping us well informed.
All was not lost though; Carnival refunded our port fees for these stops and we were diverted to San Juan. Our adjusted itinerary included an overnight stop in San Juan, Grand Turk and a substitute port in Nassau, Bahamas. All in all, we only had one afternoon of some wind and slightly choppy seas and the next day we were back to the sunshine and on with our cruise.
In 2017, we were on the Carnival Vista out of Miami and as we neared our last port we received news that Hurricane Irma was hitting the Keys and on a path into Miami. Our itinerary wasn’t changed since we were at the end of our cruise but we did stay at sea an extra 3 days as our ship went behind the storm. Carnival was amazing. The ship was re-stocked with food and essentials at our last port. The ship’s wifi and phone lines were opened to everyone on the ship at no charge so that passengers could make calls to airlines and home. This was helpful because we did have to reschedule our flights home.
The Captain and Cruise Director (we had the famous Matt Mitcham) kept us well informed and entertained. The entire staff from the room stewards to the dining staff was just stellar and we were well taken care of.
Will they cancel a cruise due to the weather?
Yes, but it is usually very rare, in fact, it’s often the last resort. Trust me when I say cruise companies do not want to cancel your cruise.
In the event your cruise is completely canceled it would likely be just before a hurricane is predicted to hit the home port (and the previous cruise won’t be able to return to port) or just after a hurricane hits and the port isn’t accessible due to flooding or damage.
Should your cruise get canceled entirely, cruise companies will usually offer some sort of compensation. For example, I’ve seen Carnival offer a full refund and a future cruise credit in some circumstances while a shorter version of the original itinerary was offered to others. It is important to note that compensation is not guaranteed and subject to each situation.
Should I cruise during hurricane season?
Yes! Cruising during hurricane season is a perfectly fine time to cruise. Just be realistic in your expectations and know that missed ports and itinerary changes can happen.
As I said, I’ve cruised numerous times during hurricane season and my experiences have all been positive despite missing ports and having extra sea days. (Seriously, who wouldn’t want extra vacation for free? This was practically a dream come true for me!).
Should I purchase travel insurance?
Yes! Travel insurance will give you peace of mind especially if you plan to travel during hurricane season. It covers things like trip interruptions and weather-related issues which is why I highly recommend it along with lots of other things such as illness and emergencies. Check out my post about Why Travel Insurance is a Must-Have on Any Vacation to learn more.
I think cruising from August to October is a great time to cruise especially since you’re more likely to score a deal and have a wonderful vacation with no hiccups at all.
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