Weather can make or break any cruise, but in extreme instances like hurricanes it can extend or cancel them. Ships cruise year round and people book during hurricane season on a regular basis. Most are unaffected since most of the time there is not a hurricane happening. But sometimes there is. Usually it just means a missed port, change of itinerary, or a stretch of rough sea. Occasionally though the results are far more drastic.
While prices for the exact same cruise vary depending on how long until sailing and how full the ship is regardless of time of year and itinerary, generally cruises in hurricane prone areas are cheaper during hurricane season, and cruises to anywhere cost more whenever kids are out of school. As anyone on or booked to go on a cruise out of Galveston this past week knows now, when you book during hurricane season there are risks that go along with that booking.
The ship’s captain and the cruiselines will do everything in their power to keep passengers on the ship – or those scheduled to board – safe. Usually it just means keeping the ship out of the path of the storm, but if that means extending the cruise until the ship can safely return to port, or canceling the cruise entirely for those not yet on board then that is what they will do.
While the media reports these ships unable to return to port as people stranded on cruise ships, those passengers are receiving an extended cruise at no extra cost. Hurricane victims on land huddle in crowded shelters, but people on the ship have all the amenities a floating resort has to offer available to them. Nice meals, entertainment, their own cabin with real beds, and the cruise ship staff going out of their way to keep everyone happy. Something people on land passing the storm in makeshift shelters where the main concern is just to keep them alive and dry can only wish they had. Odds are most people evacuated from their homes would be more than happy to trade places with those “stranded” cruise ship passengers.
Whether in the best of situations or the worst, a cruise is always what you make of it. Some will relax and enjoy the extra time on board while others fret and worry about jobs or places they were supposed to be, or if they are from a stricken area their home and family, friends, or pets there. Luckily in modern times communication is often instantaneous so likely they can find out whether or not they were spared from the worst of Harvey’s wrath. Knowing is better than wondering unless of course the news is very bad.
Those who did not get on when the ship didn’t make it back to port are not going to be happy – but then again if they tried to board at a port where conditions are so bad it remains closed for days or set sail into a hurricane they wouldn’t be happy about that either. While cruise lines will refund a cancelled cruise and likely offer other compensation besides, airline tickets and hotel reservations may not be as easily reimbursed unless of course those flights were cancelled and hotels closed due to the storm as well. This is where trip insurance comes into play for those who purchased it. Besides taking care of any medical problems that may arise during your journey, trip insurance also covers money lost in vacations not taken if there is a valid reason for not going. When deciding not to buy insurance, that is a risk you are taking. For frequent travelers the amount spent on insurance for numerous trips could total more than a loss from one disaster so they may choose to skip the insurance and take the loss. More likely though people don’t want to spend the money for the insurance, then become very upset over any unreimbursed losses they incur.
Meanwhile of course people living in the path of the storm face losses far more devastating than anything relating to a vacation. Amongst all the bad news, it’s very heartwarming to see ordinary people out rescuing others that got stranded by rising floodwaters, especially when there are some people out rescuing dogs and other animals.
So far I’ve been quite lucky in that while most of my cruises have been taken during hurricane season, none have actually come in the middle of one. We have had a bit of rough seas or bad weather tailing one, and seen devastated ports where one recently passed, but never got caught up in the midst of one. Once we were on a ship while one was out there, but passing far enough away not to need to alter course.
My son who lives near Houston lucked out too. His house stayed dry throughout all Harvey’s flooding, though some of his neighbors weren’t so fortunate. Hurricanes have come more often and with more severity in recent years than in the past. There’s another one called Irma brewing out in the Atlantic Ocean already. This problem is not likely to go away any time soon. Severe weather of all kinds is a side effect of global warming. People can call it climate change, deny it altogether, or point to a severe snowstorm as proof global warming doesn’t exist all they want, but that doesn’t change the fact that the average temperature of the planet is on the rise. One constant we’ve heard frequently in many places where we’ve traveled around the world over the past few years is that the weather is not normal for that place at that time of year.
With hurricanes Jose and Katia on the tail of Irma while multiple wildfires burned across the western USA and places in Europe sweltered under intense heat, various media sources mentioned both hurricane and fire seasons having increased by 78 days since the 1970’s. Surprising more attention wasn’t brought to this over the decades as these crept up, or how much farther it will go before making headline news.