What Happens (and What to Do) When Your Cruise Is Delayed By Fog

Cruise lines have managed to take a 2,000 room hotel, make it float, and added theaters, dining rooms, waterslides, and more.

But while the ships are a marvel, what no cruise line will ever do is be able to control the weather. And while you may think nasty thunderstorms and hurricanes are the big threat to the cruise lines, it’s actually something much calmer that causes the biggest headaches — fog.

Fog is a cruise ship’s enemy. While underway the ships are equipped with the latest radar technology to make their way through. However, when it comes to porting, fog can cause huge delays.

If the fog is too heavy, then the cruise ship can’t always dock. That means the passengers already on board won’t be able to disembark and the passengers waiting to start their cruise can’t board the ship. It puts everything behind schedule as the ship waits offshore for the fog to lift.

Tips for Dealing with a Fog Delay on a Cruise

Ship in fog

If your ship is delayed by fog, the most important thing is to keep patient. Remember that even in good weather thousands of passengers have to get off the ship, the liner has to re-supply, and thousands of new passengers have to check-in and board the vessel. Bad weather only makes it more difficult.

Furthermore, the cruise lines want to stick to their schedule just as much as you do, but there is only so much that they can do if fog takes over. Safety of the ship, crew, and passengers takes highest priority.

In fact, some ports may close due to fog, which means the cruise line can do nothing until the port re-opens to traffic.

What the cruise lines can do is stay in contact with passengers. Since they have your contact information from your booking, they will often send emails or text messages to keep you up-to-date on the situation. In addition, you can always call the cruise line or visit their website for updates.

Often they will ask that embarking passengers stay clear from the port until asked to come board. Doing so helps to alleviate the traffic jams that can occur from a delayed schedule.

As for passengers already on the ship, they will try to give them regular updates on the ship’s loudspeaker to keep them informed on what’s going on.

Will Fog Shorten Your Cruise?

But what about the cruise? What happens to the schedule if there is a delay in the ship arriving or departing due to fog?

If the delay is short enough (a few hours) then the cruise can usually make up for lost time by sailing a little faster. However, with longer delays the itinerary may be rescheduled.

Longer delays can mean a slight change like re-ordering the ports visited, all the way to skipping some stops altogether or even cutting days off the cruise.

We’ve heard of five-day cruises being turned into three-day trips. We’ve also heard of some short trips turning into “cruises to nowhere.” If the delay is especially long on a short cruise, the ship will skip the ports altogether and just sail in the open water until it is time to return home.

Compensation for a Fog-Delayed Trip

The bad news is that the possibility of a delay due to fog is real. It happens every year, usually during the winter months.

The good news is that the cruise lines will usually try to compensate you for the delay, much like airlines. Take what Carnival had to say after one of its ships was delayed in Galveston:

“Because of its delayed arrival and subsequent delayed departure, Carnival Ecstasy will now sail on a modified three-day cruise that will return on Thursday, Feb. 24 (originally, the ship was scheduled to sail on a five-day cruise to Cozumel and Progreso operating Saturday to Thursday).

“Guests have the option of canceling and receiving a full refund, a 25 percent discount off a future two- to five-day voyage and a $45 per person meal allowance. Guests who opt to sail on the modified three-day cruise will receive a 50 percent refund of their cruise fare, a 50 percent discount on a future two- to five-day cruise, and $45 per person meal allowance in the form of a shipboard credit.

Carnival sincerely apologizes to its guests for this disruption in their vacation plans.”

If delayed a shorter time period, we have heard of cruise lines offering small amounts to guests’ onboard accounts once they are on the ship. 

Remember, the cruise lines want you to be a happy customer. They usually won’t short-change you on a trip because it was delayed by fog. Instead, they will try their best to compensate you for any delay if it means a drastic change to your schedule.

The main thing to remember — don’t get flustered. The cruise line will do everything in its power to get you on board and on your trip as soon as it can. 

Photo by Patrick DenkerCC BY 2.0

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