As Hurricane Hilary Aims at California, Here’s the Potential Impact on Cruises

Update (August 18, 8:00 p.m. Central):

A reader currently aboard Emerald Princess — a ship we mentioned as being possibly impacted by Hurricane Hilary — sent a letter outlining itinerary changes due to the storm.

Emerald Princess was originally scheduled to port in Ensenada, Mexico on August 20, according to, followed by debarkation in Los Angeles on August 21.

Now the ship will make a “service call” at Ensenada tomorrow evening (August 19). During that time no passengers will get off the ship. It will then sail to Los Angeles, arriving at 10:00 a.m. on August 20. The ship will stay docked all day and overnight, and disembark passengers as scheduled on August 21. 

You can see the letter in full below:

Original Article (August 18, 8:00 a.m. Central):

In an unusual weather situation, a major hurricane in the Pacific Ocean looks to impact California, and it could also have an effect on cruises in the area.

The current storm track takes Hurricane Hilary into Ensenada and Los Angeles, where several cruise ships are scheduled to be around the same time.

Currently, Hurricane Hilary has rapidly increased in size and power to a category 4 storm, with maximum sustained winds of 145 miles per hour. The storm sits south of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, but is projected to pick up speed as its arcs around Baja California.

From there, current models show the storm turning north and coming ashore in northern Baja California around midday Sunday. It’s expected to reach Southern California around midnight on Monday, picking up speed before quickly moving out.

Currently, ports including Los Angeles, Long Beach, Ensenada, Catalina Island, and Cabo San Lucas all look to see some sort of impact.

If there is good news, it is that the storm is expected to weaken soon as it moves to cooler waters. Even so, it could affect cruise schedules.

To be clear, as of now (8 a.m. Central, August 18), there are no announced changes that we’ve seen from cruise lines. If you are booked on a trip in the area, the cruise line will be in contact should any changes be made.

As Carnival’s Brand Ambassador John Heald posted on Facebook, “In partnership with our state of the art Fleet Operations Center, we are actively monitoring Hurricane Hilary. Currently, there is no impact to our scheduled itinerary. Everyone’s safety is our priority, so we will continue to monitor the weather and provide timely updates if anything changes.”


Still, there are several ships whose schedules appear to bring them near the storm path. This includes Carnival Miracle, Carnival Radiance, Emerald Princess and Navigator of the Seas.

  • Both Carnival Miracle and Radiance are scheduled to dock in Ensenada, Mexico on Saturday, August 19. Judging from the forecasted position of the storm, it looks to still be some distance from the area at that time, well south during the ship’s time in port.
  • Emerald Princess and Navigator of the Seas are scheduled to dock in Ensenada on Sunday, August 20. At that point, the storm is set to be much closer. As mentioned, we’ve seen no announcement of a schedule change from either cruise line, but believe it bears watching going forward. You can view Royal Caribbean’s travel updates here. You can view Princess travel updates here.
  • On Monday, August 21, Carnival Radiance, Emerald Princess, and Navigator of the Seas are all scheduled back in Los Angeles to debark passengers. Hurricane Hilary’s current forecast shows it impacting the area just before that time, before quickly moving out. Still, if the timing or the path changes, it could have an impact on debarkation.

What to Know About Possible Cruise Line Changes

As mentioned, the best source for updates on your cruise is the cruise line itself. That said, having followed the impact of hurricanes on cruises in the past, there are some things to note about what could happen:

Total Cancellations Are Unlikely: Typically, total cancellations of cruises due to hurricanes are rare. For that to happen, usually the departure port needs to be heavily damaged to where it can’t accept cruise ships. Instead, more often there are simply itinerary changes. If you’re thinking your cruise will be completely cancelled, that seems unlikely.

Trips Can Be Extended or Shortened: More common is for a cruise to be extended or shortened in order to allow a storm to pass or to allow passengers off the ship before the impacts are felt. This can cause headaches with travel schedules, but is often the only alternative due to the timing of a storm’s arrival.

Ports of Call Can Be Canceled: The most common impact of weather on a cruise is that ports of call are skipped or adjusted. Sometimes this can mean a day at sea instead of stopping in port. Other times it can mean rearranging the schedule to visit once a storm is gone.

We will continue to monitor the situation with Hurricane Hilary and report any more impacts the storm might have on cruises.

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