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Cruising Into Hurricane Season

Excerpt from a 1995 U. S. Navy Press Release:
"The approach of Hurricane Felix caused 66 Navy ships to depart Norfolk Naval Base and the Norfolk, Virginia area on 15 and 16 August..."

Cruise Travel and Hurricane SeasonAny Port in a Storm? Not So Fast!

Savvy cruisers know... storms happen. They're a fact of life. And, quite frankly, Mother Nature isn't interested in whether or not she spoils your vacation. An independent lady, she does what she wants and when she wants to do it. She is what she is... kind of like your mother-in-law when she comes to visit. Mother Nature is somewhat more unpredictable, though. Unlike some of her other tricks, such as violent, out-of-nowhere tornadoes and sneaky earthquakes, hurricanes build slowly and pick up speed. Using modern technology, forecasters are able to predict and track them to a certain degree but even the most up-to-the-minute devices aren't perfect. Impossible as it is to say with one hundred percent certainty exactly where they will hit, at least the National Hurricane Center is able to issue advance warning to those in harms way.

So, what's with the above press release quote from the Navy? You see, they send their ships out to sea to ride out hurricanes. This is a comforting thought. Being ON a ship is not necessarily a bad thing when a hurricane is imminent, provided you can get to the ship to embark. Modern cruise ships are equipped with sophisticated communications gear and receive regular weather bulletins and storm advisories. Although you won't be on a destroyer, your ship will have the equipment necessary to insure your safety. I recall a cruise ship captain who defied the Mexican government and left port against their directive. He saved his ship, while others remaining in port sustained damage.

The official hurricane season consumes a full six months of the year, from June 1st until November 30th

As luck will have it, your major concern should be your embarkation port. While a hurricane barrels down on your destination city, flights in and out are certain to be delayed or, worst case scenario, cancelled by an airport closing. But, let's not worry about that. Assume you made it to the ship and have sailed. What can you expect? Course alterations are made as necessary to avoid storms. If a hurricane has a tryst with one of your Caribbean port stops, you might alter course to a different (and possibly more interesting) port. In the extreme, you could end up in New England when your itinerary includes only idyllic Bermuda. The ship will go where the Captain and crew feel is safest. Your very life depends on them and they take that responsibility seriously.

The Eye of the Storm

Thankfully, I can't relate any horrifying personal exposure to tropical storms. On one hurricane-baiting voyage to Bermuda, we were tossed about a bit our first night out and advised to stash high heels in our closets. Little white "seasickness" bags appeared before we needed them and things got rather rocky.

However, here's a scenario no one wants to consider. A young couple I know planned their dream honeymoon. They were married on a perfect summer afternoon and flew to Miami the next day where they boarded their vessel for bliss-filled newlywed days of cruising. Just over the horizon lurked Hurricane Andrew. Foiling the dastardly villain, they arrived with time to spare and got to the ship, which sailed early! Their itinerary was somewhat jumbled, but the skies were sunny, and they reported that they didn't notice any untoward motion. Well... they were on their honeymoon, after all.

It's a big ocean out there with plenty of room for you, your ship, & Mother Nature

Passengers numbering in the hundreds of thousands embark on cruises during the "official" hurricane season without a thought about storms on land or at sea. For some, it's the only time of year they can schedule a family vacation. For others, it's just not a consideration. After all, the official hurricane season consumes a full six months of the year, from June 1st until November 30th. While it is something to ponder in terms of comfort and convenience, I wouldn't let it stand in my way of scheduling a cruise during that time frame. Chances are, you'll never have a problem. It's a big ocean out there and there's room for you, your ship, and Mother Nature.

Consider what can happen on a land vacation; I once had to evacuate a hotel on the Hawaiian island of Kauai because of a tsunami warning. I'd rather be drinking coffee on a pitching cruise ship than in a Red Cross Evacuation Center any day.

Bon Voyage and Smooth Sailing!


Ship Happens Bad weather, mechanical problems, and political unrest can set your itinerary and plans adrift.

Articles & Advice More info from Cruise Diva and contributors.

Make The National Weather Service your source of information for everything you ever wanted to know about hurricanes and weather.

Travel Insurers Find the right cruise insurance policy for you.



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