Proving that cruises aren’t just impacted by weather during the hurricane season, December’s weather created havoc for tens of thousands of passengers over this past week.
It started with a powerful storm system that hit the eastern part of the United States last weekend. With heavy rain, strong winds, and in some cases record high tides, many spots in the path of the storm saw significant impacts. That impact eventually made its way to cruises as well.
Port Delays in Miami for Thousands of Passengers
As Cruzely reported last Sunday, the Port of Miami announced cruise ships planning to dock at the port that day were delayed given the weather that passed through earlier. That impacted passengers both debarking the vessels and then boarding later that day.
Weekends are the busiest days for departure ports and nine ships were slated to dock in Miami last Sunday. Combined, these ships had a capacity of roughly 30,000 passengers at double occupancy. With ships coming in to drop off current passengers and then board new guests, that meant roughly 60,000 cruisers were likely impacted by the delays in total.
However, this delay was only part of the impact the weather had on cruises and cruise passengers during the past week.
A Complete Re-Route From The Bahamas to Canada
In New York, MSC Meraviglia departed December 16 with an itinerary that was originally slated to sail south to Florida and The Bahamas. Due to the weather, that sunny, warm-weather route had to be completely changed.
“We have significantly altered the itinerary of your cruise due to adverse weather conditions expected across Florida and the Bahamas during the week ahead. Heavy rain is expected across most of the destinations that we planned to visit, as well as wind gusts surpassing 40 knots which would render our maneuvers to enter destination ports unsafe,” MSC said in a statement to guests according to CruiseIndustryNews.com.
“To ensure the safety and well-being of everyone onboard, we will sail to New England and Canada instead, where we expect to encounter fairer weather conditions that will allow us to offer the pleasant cruise experience that you expect.”
Farther up the coast from Florida the weather’s impact was felt by even more cruise passengers.
Flooded Passenger Cars in Charleston
In Charleston, South Carolina, some passengers sailing aboard Carnival Sunshine disembarked only to find that their parked cars were flooded during their vacation, according to USAToday. The city received a reported four inches of rain due to storms in the area.
“The recent record high tide and unprecedented flooding that occurred throughout downtown Charleston resulted in some cruise passenger vehicles being impacted,” said a statement given to the local ABC affiliate by the South Carolina Ports Authority. “The South Carolina Ports team worked closely with passengers to provide assistance from the moment they arrived until the last passenger departed the terminal.”
“Port police ensured passengers had the necessary reports to document damage for their insurance companies. Passengers were not charged for additional days to use the parking lot and are able to leave their vehicles as long as necessary.”
To be sure, disruptions of this magnitude are rare and typically seen only when a hurricane or tropical system impacts the area around a port. Still, it does prove that weather can occur any time of year and have an effect on cruises.
So what should you do as a cruise passenger to minimize the possible impact?
First, we think it’s actually futile to try and plan a trip around potential weather. For instance, if you were to avoid cruising during hurricane season, that would eliminate half of the year. As well, the path of tropical systems are notoriously hard to predict, and as we’ve seen, even non-tropical weather can cause issues. You have no way of knowing that a storm will hit when booking a cruise months in advance.
Instead, we think it’s smarter to simply be prepared in case weather does hit.
For one, having travel insurance can help ease your mind should a storm mean that you can’t get to your port for departure. (If your cruise itself is canceled due to weather, you will be offered compensation from the cruise line.)
Being ready for any possible changes or delays is also important. Storms can cause ships to be delayed in arriving back home or mean that some ports of called are skipped or the ship re-routed. Being mentally prepared for this sort of impact can help make your trip more enjoyable if it does happen.