The Caribbean is a popular destination for UK cruisers, but with hurricane season currently here (1st June – 30th November), a Caribbean cruise might not seem an obvious holiday choice. However, according to a poll of 2,278 travellers, 78% would consider cruising during hurricane season, with 59% responding that they definitely would do so, or are already booked. With this in mind, Cruise Critic, the world’s largest cruise and planning site (TripAdvisor’s cruise site), shares some key considerations for successful sailing during hurricane season.
1. A ship can re-route, but a hotel can’t
A key benefit of being on a cruise ship during hurricane season, is that a ship can re-route to avoid bad weather, meaning you’ll never actually sail into a hurricane. Ships are equipped with advanced tracking technology, so the chance of actually encountering a storm are slim.
2. Flexible sailing
Bear in mind the caveat, which is that if you do encounter a storm, you may not get to stop at all scheduled ports, though the cruise line will typically replace these with others. So, if you’re flexible, and wouldn’t mind potential last minute itinerary alterations, sailing during hurricane season could suit you.
3. Deals that will go down a storm
Peak hurricane season runs between mid-August to late October, and this is also the best time to find a deal. Speak to cruise agents direct, search Cruise Critic’s cruise deals to compare agents’ prices, and sign up for industry newsletters to access the best deals.
4. Factor in flights
If you find a fantastic deal, which doesn’t include flights, don’t forget to check the cost of these – before you book. After all, flights during the summer period can be expensive, and could soon outweigh any savings on the cruise.
5. Read the fine print when booking independent shore excursions
If your ship needs to reroute due to bad weather, causing you to miss a port and your shore excursion, you’ll have the security of being able to receive a refund if it’s an excursion booked via the cruise line. However, if you book through an independent tour operator, you’re not always guaranteed a refund, so double-check before you book.
6. Head south
To help minimise your chance of encountering a storm, you might prefer to choose a Southern Caribbean itinerary, visiting ports such as Bonaire, Curacao and Aruba. These islands are on the outskirts of the hurricane belt and don’t see as many storms as the Eastern and Western Caribbean. Before you book, read up on which islands are where.
7. Less crowds, less children
If you prefer to avoid crowds and children when travelling, the peak hurricane season period could be an ideal time for you to sail, providing you miss the final two weeks of August. Not only do less people tend to sail during this time, but it also corresponds with the start of the autumn term for most schools, meaning it’s likely to be less busy, and less costly.
8. Keep your eye on the storm
With constant changes to weather predictions, be sure to monitor the updates to keep track of any upcoming storms, which may affect your travel plans. Cruise Critic delivers regular news updates on tropical storms and hurricanes, plus offers a dedicated hurricane zone, bringing you up-to-date expert insight and tips into everything storm related.
9. Be sure to insure
Regardless of when you travel, insurance is essential as this can cover costs associated with rebooking or cancellation of cruises, hotels and flights. The cruise line may not cover certain cancellations and delays, such as missed flights due to poor weather, so be sure to pick an insurance plan that will cover such eventualities, and confirm exactly what it covers.
Most of all make the most of your cruise and enjoy your holiday without worrying about what the weather is up to!