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How cruise lines are preparing for an active hurricane season this year


The Atlantic hurricane season officially began on June 1. Less than one month into the season, flood concerns have risen in Florida, with some areas predicted to have double-digit rainfall totals this week. While reports from the National Hurricane System predict a 10% chance of the system developing into a named storm, those with cruises booked are wondering what this means for their upcoming voyages. 

In April, Colorado State University (CSU) released its 2024 forecast, predicting 23 named storms, 11 of which are anticipated to become hurricanes. Those within the cruise industry have taken to social media to share how they're gearing up for what's predicted to be a "very active" season

Safety is always the top priority, and cruise lines take appropriate measures to navigate weather-related challenges, whether alternating an itinerary, delaying the ship's departure, or ultimately canceling the voyage. 

Shoreside simulations

(Image taken from Craig Setzer's LinkedIn)

Craig Setzer, Royal Caribbean Group's Chief Meteorologist and Certified Consulting Meteorologist, shared a simulation conducted to prepare their team for a rapidly developing storm. 

"This year’s simulation was with a storm that rapidly intensifies as it approaches South Florida," Setzer explains on Linkedin, "This scenario is entirely possible and has happened before in history. Most folks think we will have days and days to watch and prepare. The caveat here was that this system began developing within 3 days of reaching Miami, putting everyone behind the planning curve from the beginning."

He says they conduct multiple exercises to ensure the team is well-prepared to handle the widespread response required when a storm system develops. 

"Flooding is being warned on the Weather Channel...If we cancel our Celebration cruise will Carnival be heartless and charge us penalties[?]"


John Heald, Carnival Cruise Line's Brand Ambassador, received a message asking about the status of their upcoming Carnival Celebration cruise. He starts by reassuring the concerned individual that the likelihood of their cruise being canceled is minimal. 

Then, Heald drives into what Carnival does to ensure the safety of its passengers and crew: "These days, Carnival has all the tools needed to see where a tropical storm is developing, where it is going, and what the projected track is likely to be."

The company has a state-of-the-art Fleet Operations Center manned 24/7 by an experienced team that works closely with government agencies such as the National Hurricane Center and the U.S. Coast Guard.

tropical storm Tammy

When there's a named storm, the team carefully considers all given advice while looking at the storm's projected track. They'll also confer with the ship's Captain to decide the safest course of action. 

If an itinerary needs to be revised to avoid a storm, Carnival's first step is to come up with an alternate plan


"Although itinerary modifications happen from time to time, any decision to change an itinerary is always done with the interest of guest and crew safety," says Heald, "...guests may be disappointed but they understand." 

Because the path of a named storm is subject to change, decisions are often made with a day or so's notice. 

Once the plan has been developed, Carnival's team can spring into action calling tour operators in new ports of call, creating new daily schedules, rearranging transportation for entertainers scheduled to join the ship during the cruise, and more. The last step is emailing guests and travel agents about the updates. 

"Let’s say that Hurricane Glitterknickers is heading through the Eastern Caribbean and the scheduled calls are in St. Thomas, San Juan, and St. Maarten," explains Heald as he example of what this process could look like in action. 


"The [Fleet Operation Center's] operators and the ship’s Captains will look to the Western Caribbean or the Bahamas perhaps for an alternative itinerary. That is when the beards call the port authorities in Cozumel, Ocho Rios, Grand Cayman, Nassau, ]Amber Cove, etc.,] and other ports to ask for a berth on a specific day. We will (I will) provide you with a text alert number to get all the latest news."

Heald's Facebook was flooded (no pun intended) with praise


"Carnival does CARE!! And they take all precautions and changes!! I buy insurance for those things that might affect my travel or comfort... and they adjust to make it better for all of us!! THANK YOU!!!" wrote Lambie Lynch. 

Jean Orcutt said, "John, this is an excellent, detailed explanation of how/why/what must happen when an itinerary is changed due to weather or other unforeseen [circumstances]! Many folk have no idea!"

"Wow didn’t realize all the work involved in making changes for OUR OWN SAFETY and fun times," commented Ceceilia Vasconcellos.

What you need to know about taking a cruise during the 2024 hurricane season

Make sure you have a good travel insurance policy

Travel Insurance

Hurricanes have the potential to alter more than cruise itineraries. When a storm slams into southern Florida, airports across the United States can experience disruptions, too. While travel insurance policies are an extra cost, they're important to factor into your cruise budget, as they will provide you with peace of mind should your travel plans get disrupted. 

Even if you're traveling outside of hurricane season, travel insurance policies can help alleviate the financial burden of emergency medical treatment while on your cruise, as well as provide assistance should your luggage get lost en route to its final destination. 

Not all policies are created equal, though. If you want a policy that allows you to cancel for any reason, rather than waiting for a last-minute decision made by the cruise line, you'll want a policy that has a "Cancel For Any Reason" clause. Otherwise, you'll forfeit the entire cost of the vacation should you choose to cancel on your own will. 

Rough seas

Lisa Park shared a story in the comments of Heald's post about why travel insurance is a must-have: "We left out of Charleston the day after Florence hit. The airport was closed, so we flew into Atlanta and drove into the storm…insurance covered the rental car. We sailed at 40% [because] nobody could get there."

Do not book a cruise for a single port of call; flexibility is key during hurricane season 


While itineraries play a pivotal role in the cruise experience, booking a sailing with high hopes of visiting a specific destination is risky, especially during hurricane season. If a storm develops that causes your cruise line to alter your cruise to ensure your safety, you may be left disappointed. 

Let's say, for example, that you book a 7-night Western Caribbean cruise, and you're eager to explore the West End of Roatán, Honduras. In the blink of an eye, your itinerary could become an Eastern Caribbean one, visiting ports like St. Maarten and St. Thomas instead of Mexico, Honduras, and Belize. 

Last year, Disney Cruise Line was forced to change Disney Fantasy's 8-night cruise to Bermuda to the Western Caribbean, stopping at Cozumel, Mexico; George Town, Grand Cayman; Castaway Cay; and Nassau.


As long as your embarkation port is open, it is likely that your cruise will take place. Per the cruise contract that is agreed upon when booking, however, cruise lines aren't required to provide compensation for itinerary changes.  

Ports are subject to change outside of hurricane season, too. Strong winds can prevent a ship from safely docking in port, while unforeseen mechanical issues can result in a ship sailing at slower speeds than normal.  

Don't skimp on the seasickness medication


When packing for your cruise, do not forget to bring your favorite motion sickness remedies in case your ship encounters rough waters. 

Though ships are headed by skilled Captains and come equipped with stabilizer fins to reduce the motion felt by guests, rough seas can still occur, even outside of hurricane season. 

Whether you're a fan of over-the-counter medications, acupuncture wristbands, or natural remedies like ginger, ensuring that your go-to remedy is readily available will be a relief if you fall ill during your cruise. 

Fly in at least one day before your cruise begins


Air travel is unpredictable. Even if the weather is sunny with clear skies, delayed outbound flights, crew scheduling, and maintenance issues can wreak havoc on travel plans, which is why it's recommended to fly into your embarkation city at least one day before your cruise begins. 

As mentioned earlier, a storm system that impacts Florida can cause flight delays across the United States, from North Carolina to Georgia, New York, and beyond. 

Cruise ships will not wait for passengers with delayed flights, so if your 3:00pm all-aboard time rolls around and you're nowhere to be found, they will set sail without you. 

Read more: The costly cruising mistake newbies make planning their first cruise

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