Are hurricanes a problem for cruises?

As you prepare for your cruise out into the Atlantic, the presence of hurricane season on the calendar could give you pause. Many Louisiana residents might not want to brave the Gulf waters with the threat of a destructive hurricane lurking out there. While a hurricane might cause some disruptions to your cruise experience, the threat of actually getting caught in a hurricane is practically non-existent.

The Cruisecritic website points out that hurricanes will not catch cruise ships unaware. The weather tracking and forecasting technology available on a cruise vessel will detect an approaching hurricane. In addition, cruise ships have access to information from weather forecasters that can confirm or augment the data already gathered by the ship’s instrumentation. Once a cruise line knows where a hurricane is likely to strike, the ship will simply be rerouted to a safer destination.

But what if a cruise ship gets too close to a hurricane? While the forecasting equipment on board makes it unlikely that your vessel would ever get too close to a hurricane, a cruise ship is still capable of outdistancing a hurricane. The mobility of storms on the sea is about eight to ten knots, but a cruise ship can accelerate to a speed of up to twenty-two knots, if not faster.

The headaches a hurricane might inflict upon your cruise usually consist of the unpredictability of how long you will be at sea. If a storm threatens your port of return, your vessel might stay in the water for a longer period of time until the storm passes. Sometimes a storm might cause your ship to turn back to your home port much sooner. If you lose days on the sea because of a hurricane, you would typically be refunded for what you have lost.

Additionally, a hurricane might cause your cruise to go to a different destination than the one you signed up for. If a bad storm makes it too hazardous to go to Jamaica, you might end up going to Florida instead. While this can be infuriating, the terms of your cruise agreement will likely provide for reroutes in the case of a storm, so you would probably not receive special compensation in the event your cruise has to change destinations.

Be aware that while this article gives information on maritime law, it does not provide any legal advice.

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