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Hurricane season - need advice


Sayyadina

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Hi, I would like some advice from some more seasoned caribbean travelers regarding hurricane season in the Atlantic.

 

They just dropped the price of a cruise we're looking at by almost $100/person. It's a really good price. The departure date is October 17th, which is toward the end of hurricane season, but due to the past year's activity I'm a bit concerned. A couple questions:

 

If we go and there is a large or small storm in the area, what happens? Do they cancel? Do they detour and change ports?

 

If there is major damage to an island from a previous hurricane in the summer, does the ship still go there? I really hope, for the islands' sake, this does not happen.

 

Based on the departure date (leaving from Norfolk on the Maasdam), would you do it?

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We are on the next cruise after you out of Norfolk. We always cruise during Hurricane season. If there is a storm they will divert around it. The damage question is all up to the port. When the Caymans got hit they closed the ports, the cruse lines had no say in it. The lines try very hard to get to where you are scheduled but it doesn't always happen.

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Hi, I would like some advice from some more seasoned caribbean travelers regarding hurricane season in the Atlantic.

 

They just dropped the price of a cruise we're looking at by almost $100/person. It's a really good price. The departure date is October 17th, which is toward the end of hurricane season, but due to the past year's activity I'm a bit concerned. A couple questions:

 

If we go and there is a large or small storm in the area, what happens? Do they cancel? Do they detour and change ports?

 

If there is major damage to an island from a previous hurricane in the summer, does the ship still go there? I really hope, for the islands' sake, this does not happen.

 

Based on the departure date (leaving from Norfolk on the Maasdam), would you do it?

 

We were on the Westerdam in 11/05. There was a hurricane in the western Caribbean at the same time, and we did get a port canceled. Also, about 2 weeks before, Cozumel had been severly damaged by another hurricane, so we already knew we were not stopping there, but going to Costa Maya instead. Our Ocho Rios stop was canceled and all of the other ports were moved up a day, and then our final port was an added stop in Freeport, Bahamas. It's just really a chance you take. We also had 27+ ft. waves and Code Red Norwalk prevention going on, but we honestly had a blast on this cruise--met some wonderful people who are now good friends.

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We live on the coast of North Carolina and Hurrican season is just a fact of life for us. It occupies almost half of each year. The Maasdam has a record of fighting the small storms off Cape Hatteras each year. So far, they've coped very well with only small delays and sometimes a missed port. However, as others have said, sometimes the ports are closed to all traffic...with no say-so from the cruise lines. Actually, the Fall is a great time to cruise the Caribbean. Prices are great and crowds are not so much of an issue. Don't let the fear of a hurricane dampen your enthusiasm. The ships all have great contengency plans for these events. You'll have fun, no matter what.

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We have cruised several times during hurricane season and have saved several hundred dollars by waiting just one week. Until September of 2004 we had NO problem EVER. We had booked excursions by ourselves through the internet in Grand Cayman, Jamaica, etc. and ended up not visiting those places. The cruise ships are well accustomed to dealing with hurricanes, and in our case we were informed ahead of time (during the cruise) that there might be changes. Except for the very first port, the entire itinerary was changed! We had no discomfort until we were well on our way back to the port in New Jersey. It was noisy, but we did not get sick, and we had a long wait to disembark, because the pilot boat could not get us into the harbor until the seas were more quiet.

 

I'd do it again, having confidence that the captain and crew really know what they're doing, but if you care about the itinerary, you might give it some extra consideration. Happy cruising!:D

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Do they detour and change ports ?

It all depends on the hurricane. A ship will not go near a hurricane. If there is one in the area of one of your ports, they will either detour and go to another port or just stay out at sea. There have been cases where the entire itinerary was changed.

 

Do they cancel ?

Same situtation. It depends on the hurricane. Cruises have been cut short in the past because the ship couldn't get into port. The ship stayed out at sea for an extra day or two so the following cruise was cut short.

 

If there is damage to an island does the ship still go there ?

If the damage is major, the ship will not go there. Sometimes the island will not allow any ships to dock because of the damage.

 

If you decide to go, good luck.

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My concern would not be while you were in the Caribbean. The ships divert around a storm there- can do Eastern instead of Western and vice-versa.

 

I would be much more hesitant because of having to sail up the Atlantic coast to Norfolk. The NC coast can be a problem under the best of conditions, but if a hurricane was or had just been along the FL to VA coast it is not as easy to go around it as in the Caribbean.

 

We lived on the NC coast for 20 years and some years hurricanes are more frequent there than in FL and the Gulf Coast.

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Based on the departure date (leaving from Norfolk on the Maasdam), would you do it?

Most definitely! In fact, I am also leaving on October 17, from New York on the Amsterdam. We're doing Aruba, HMC, Costa Rica, Panama, etc. I also sailed the Zuiderdam in 2004 ... in the middle of hurricane season ... when we got our cruise extended by 2.5 days because Port Everglades shut down. It was actually fun. Part of the fun of being on vacation for me is the spontaniety you can indulge in. The most enjoyable things are the ones you haven't planned for. I was on a b2b on the Zuiderdam in August 2004. As I said, the first half was extended by 2.5 days. As a result, we ended up with like five sea days in a row ... not something a ship like the Zuiderdam was set up for. As a result, we had all kinds of special activities ... including a "behind the scenes" tour that normally would never be offered to passengers. We got to see stuff like the coffin room, the brig, the medical center, the laundry area, bakery, storehouse for liquor, etc. Then we had a load of "coffee chats" with officers and such where we could ask all kinds of questions. Then, the second half of the b2b was even better! Because it was a shortened cruise (five days), of course, some ports had to be scrapped in the interest of time. In all fairness, HAL had to offer passengers scheduled for that cruise the opportunity to cancel with a full refund. Many of them ... and I do mean many ... took HAL up on that offer. Now, picture this: A Vista-class ship with something like 600 passengers onboard. It was like having your own private yacht for half a week. It was awesome! I doubt you'll ever see something like that again ... at least not on HAL. Is it any wonder they've pulled out of the Caribbean in the summertime? They must have taken a bath on that sailing! But, I sure enjoyed it. :)

 

I always say, when you cruise, you have to be flexible and go with the flow. If a port is cancelled, so what? Another will be substituted or you'll have a wonderful, relaxing day at sea instead. The CD's staff will add all kinds of extra activities and passengers will be kept very happy and very busy if it's another sea day. If getting to a specific port is really, really important to you ... i.e., it will make or break your cruise, then I say you are better off planning a land trip specifically to that island rather than trying to get there via cruise ship.

 

I'm only sorry HAL has cancelled their Caribbean sailings during the heaviest part of hurricane season. Personally, I think they're a lot of fun.

 

Blue skies ...

 

--rita

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It's a crap shoot ...

You just don't know what hurricane season will bring.

 

DH and I have sailed during hurricane season for the past 3 years. But we wait until the end of the season.

The first year we sailed in November -- got some gale force winds, high seas and the ship was unable to call on St. Martin. And it wasn't even a tropical storm!

The second year we sailed on Oct. 31 ... no problem.

This past fall we sailed the second week of November ... ran into the same tropical storm twice! [it was one of the Greek letter storms at the end of the season -- Gamma or something!]

We couldn't call on Jamaica. Seas were really rough.

 

Just realize that anything can happen ... don't be upset if you miss a port due to weather.

 

I agree with Peaches -- it's a lot different when you are talking about the eastern coastline. Less wiggle room.

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A few years ago on a different cruiseline we were traveling to Bermuda. Our trip to Bermuda was great, sunny the entire time while in port. Our return trip was a very different story. While the ship does detour around the hurricane it was storming between Bermuda and Charleston, SC where we needed to port. Just let me say that I have never seen so many barf bags in my life. The ship was like walking around a ghost town as the sick lay inside their cabins. By the way I am reffering to the afternoon when all activities are happening. My hubby and I always take meds so we were in pretty good shape. We did go to the dining room as we were not sick and it was empty except for maybe fifteen couples scattered about. They tried to have a show afterwards but the band kept losing members running, with hands over their mouths. They announced over the intercom for no one to attempt to go outside. We finally gave up, went to our cabin and was rocked to sleep. Let me tell you that I was very scared.

I do want to scare you about traveling during hurricane season and we have been during this time again with no problem. I just wanted to let you know about "our" hurricane story.

 

Missygirl

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Here is another story.

 

A couple of years ago, because of a threat of a hurricane, a ship's itinerary was changed maybe a day or two prior to the embarkation day. The ship was supposed to go to Bermuda. Instead it cruised around New England. This was not a Hal ship.

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Gizmo, that story sounds familiar, I believe it was my cousin's ship, his first and last cruise. I am trying to talk him into sailing with us some day, he's starting to think about it. For him, it wasn't the best vacation since each port they were visiting in New England, he could drive to.

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I was taking my niece on her first cruise - we chose the Star Princess Western Caribbean. She was extremely excited about swimming with the dolphins and the sting rays in Cozumel and Grand Cayman. But we went east due to Wilma ~

 

The captain kept us informed and since I am platinum on Princess and have free internet, we were able to let family know we were safe via email. We had a large group from the CC roll call doing excursions together, and I was able to help arrange excursions in our new ports.

 

The weather was good in the eastern carib, but the captain wasn't sure we would be able to get into FLL/there was talk of holing up in San Juan a couple of days, but when Wilma stalled over Coz, we were able to come into FLL. The ship did an extra quick turn-around, boarding and departing early for the next cruise, and was able to get out of FLL before the hurricane arrived by one day.

 

It was an exciting adventure for me, but I'm afraid a bit of a disappointment for my niece. Hopefully she will cruise again and still do her dolphin and sting ray swims!

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Doone,

 

It sounds like the same one I remember. I don't recall which line it was. Maybe Carnival, NCL or RCI ? Anyway, I remember all h*** broke loose over it. There were a lot of angry people.

 

I just found an article on it. It was RCI. RCI did not refund anyone or allow them to sail at another time. Either you went to NE or lost your money.

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I remember all h*** broke loose over it. There were a lot of angry people. RCI did not refund anyone or allow them to sail at another time.
I assume the Captain said something like, "It's Mother Nature, folks; you're here for a cruise and we'll do the best we can, but making you sick or injured are not it." That same quote would apply if the Captain had sailed into the storm, by the way.
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We spent 10 days last October on the Volendam playing cat and mouse with both Wilma and Alpha. Our Captain did an excellent job of keeping us out of rough seas and the only port that we missed was HMC. There was often a large disconnect between the scheduled ship's course as posted on the date and time channel, and the actual course we sailed. We would turn on the TV and see the map showing our ship hugging an unknown coastline and see, off the in the distant regions of the map our intended course. Sometimes we were so far off the intended course did not even show on the map. We seemed to follow Alpha in to every port and Wilma went through Florida the day before disembarkation.

 

As such, both Port Everglades and the airports were closed on the day we were supposed to return to Fort Lauderdale -- most of the day before we did not know if we were going to spend an extra day or so at sea, or port elsewhere. All day long we heard things like "this MAY be our last Trivia game" and "this MAY be our last bingo game". Finally at about 9 pm we got the announcement that HAL had made arrangements for the ship to go into Port Canaveral and HAL was providing complimentary buses from the port to the Orlando airport. We all had to pick up new baggage tags for disembarkation, and new instructions, but all things considered HAL did very well by us. I believe they also provided transport to Miami and Fort Lauderdale for those who needed to pick up cars or who lived in southern Florida.

 

For us it was a blessing not to Port in what was at that moment the "third world" (no food, water or gasoline) -- and by splurging on one ship to shore call to a relative, we were able to get our cancelled flights (we had scheduled our air independently) rescheduled out of Orlando so that we actually arrived home on time.

 

I applaud HAL and how they handled our crisis and would not hesitate to travel in hurricane season again -- in fact I just may be haunting the web sites of the cruise consolidators for a last minute October cruise......

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We spent 10 days last October on the Volendam playing cat and mouse with both Wilma and Alpha. Our Captain did an excellent job of keeping us out of rough seas and the only port that we missed was HMC. There was often a large disconnect between the scheduled ship's course as posted on the date and time channel, and the actual course we sailed. We would turn on the TV and see the map showing our ship hugging an unknown coastline and see, off the in the distant regions of the map our intended course. Sometimes we were so far off the intended course did not even show on the map. We seemed to follow Alpha in to every port and Wilma went through Florida the day before disembarkation.

 

As such, both Port Everglades and the airports were closed on the day we were supposed to return to Fort Lauderdale -- most of the day before we did not know if we were going to spend an extra day or so at sea, or port elsewhere. All day long we heard things like "this MAY be our last Trivia game" and "this MAY be our last bingo game". Finally at about 9 pm we got the announcement that HAL had made arrangements for the ship to go into Port Canaveral and HAL was providing complimentary buses from the port to the Orlando airport. We all had to pick up new baggage tags for disembarkation, and new instructions, but all things considered HAL did very well by us. I believe they also provided transport to Miami and Fort Lauderdale for those who needed to pick up cars or who lived in southern Florida.

 

For us it was a blessing not to Port in what was at that moment the "third world" (no food, water or gasoline) -- and by splurging on one ship to shore call to a relative, we were able to get our cancelled flights (we had scheduled our air independently) rescheduled out of Orlando so that we actually arrived home on time.

 

I applaud HAL and how they handled our crisis and would not hesitate to travel in hurricane season again -- in fact I just may be haunting the web sites of the cruise consolidators for a last minute October cruise......

 

 

You have the right attitude! :)

A lot of pax wouldn't be as flexible or as understanding as you were.

Those people should not book during hurricane season, if they cannot handle major changes in itinerary.

 

My DD#2 is getting married this October and one thing she will not consider for her honeymoon is a cruise. That's because she was visiting us last year when Wilma hit. After trying to get out of PBI two or three days, she finally rented a car, drove to Orlando and got a flight out of there to Ohio.

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We live in hurricane country and we often cruise during hurricane season (October/November). But to avoid disappointment and anger, you have to be realistic and realize that you must be flexible. The cruise could possibly be cancelled. You may not go to the ports on the itinerary or you may skip a port altogether. And while the Captain will keep you away from the hurricane if there's one churning in the Caribbean, you may still hit rough waters.

 

Last year Wilma hit on October 24th so there are no guarantees. But you are out of the peak season (August/September) by the time you are thinking of going. Also, bear in mind that as a general rule June/July/October/November bring hurricanes to the Gulf while August/September bring the hurricanes across the Atlantic.

 

But lately, all bets have been pretty much off and there were hurricanes churning in the Atlantic in December. So.............:o

 

I would say go for it .... but only if you won't be upset if everything isn't exactly as you expect.

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I'd be so happy to be on a ship and away from home I don't think I'd care about missing some ports. :) I was mainly curious what has happened in the past with various situations, and it seems to be all over the board (which is what I kind of expected).

 

Thanks to all for the info and stories. Not sure yet if we're going to book or not (based on other stuff, not on hurricane season)....

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I was on a CUNARD ship more than 40 years ago that diverted to outrun an hurricane near Bermuda. We were never in any danger -- but still got the drama and had a lovely hurricane party anyway.

 

Part of the fun of cruising are those unexpected diversions!!!

 

Roll with the flow.

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I agree ... roll with the flow.

At least that is my philosophy when it comes to cruising.

 

But you should have heard some of my fellow pax last November when it was announced that we would be calling on Freeport due to the tropical storm that was chasing us [and caused us to miss Jamaica].

 

A loud groan went up ...

 

I later learned that HAL tried to get us into Key West and Nassau, but neither could accommodate us.

I would have loved a second day at HMC instead of visiting Freeport, but whatever they decided was OK. You just have to accept that weather can have an effect on the itinerary.

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We live in hurricane country and we often cruise during hurricane season (October/November).

But lately, all bets have been pretty much off and there were hurricanes churning in the Atlantic in December. So.............:o

 

Thanks Heather for clarifying when hurrican season is on. Not living in the States I had no idea and did not realise that we were cruising at the "wrong" time. :confused:

 

We will be on the Veendam in September/October and now I know that we could possibly miss a couple of our last ports due to a Hurricane.

 

We are flexible and we always allow time after disembarking - 5 days before we fly out of LA - so if anything arises we should be fine though I would hate to miss seeing San Francisco where we have planned to visit after the cruise. :)

 

Jennie

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Jennie, want to clarify because you quoted just a portion of my post. Hurricane season actually runs June 1 thru November 30. The worst months for hurricanes across the Atlantic are August and September (but can come at any time). Personally, I will not cruise during those 2 months.

 

The hurricanes in June, July, October and November are more likely to come from the Gulf. But bear in mind that Wilma came from the Atlantic, across the Caribbean and into the Gulf of Mexico in late October ... only to turn around and come back straight across Florida.

 

So it's a 6 month season with all kinds of flexibility. Hurricanes aren't fussy and they don't understand the rules.:)

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