Despite the reasonably quiet period we’ve seen in recent months, hurricane season is far from over. The National Hurricane Center believes the coming months will see several named storms entering the Caribbean basin, impacting cruise ships sailing in the region.
The last storm was Tropical Storm Colin which formed off the coast of South Carolina and did not have much effect, but this is reasonably normal for the time of the year.
Hurricane season usually reaches its peak between August and November, so cruise lines will be paying close attention to weather systems in the area.
National Hurricane Center Expects Storms To Increase In Coming Months
After the lull in named storms that we’ve experienced over the last month or so, the cruise industry will be keeping a close eye on weather systems in the area. The hurricane season typically peaks in August and September, running into early October in some years.
According to the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), atmospheric and oceanic conditions show that an above-normal Atlantic hurricane season is still in the papers.
“We’re just getting into the peak months of August through October for hurricane development, and we anticipate that more storms are on the way,” said NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad, Ph.D. “NOAA stands ready to deliver timely and accurate forecasts and warnings to help communities prepare in advance of approaching storms.”
The agency released a forecast this week, saying it would expect to see 14-20 named storms (winds of 39 mph or greater), of which 6-10 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or greater). Of those, 3-5 could become major hurricanes (winds of 111 mph or greater). NOAA provides these ranges with 70% confidence.
Although relatively few storms have passed through the Caribbean so far, we’ve only seen storms Alex, Bonnie, and Colin; with the increased likely hood of a major hurricane in the coming two months, cruise companies will be watching out for what’s to come.
Expect to See More Cancelations and Port Changes
The forecast from the hurricane center means those sailing on a cruise in the coming weeks and months will need to be prepared for changes in their itineraries. Although cruise companies are typically well informed, a nearby depression can soon become a significant storm.
So what will happen if a storm develops on your route? The ports are most affected because the Caribbean usually feels the full brunt of the storm’s impact, and cruise ships are not allowed to be in port if a hurricane is expected to hit.
Cruise ships typically have plans in place in case a storm develops. A change in itinerary will be made if the Captain decides there is a risk to the vessel or those onboard.
With cruise ships outfitted with the most modern technology available, including up-to-date weather and satellite images and the cruise company headquarters in contact with the hurricane center, cruise ships can usually navigate away safely before a storm has any impact.
Read Also: How a Hurricane Could Affect Your Cruise
The only downside here is that the cruise lines have no obligation to inform guests of any itinerary changes. Of course, changes are typically communicated well in advance. But, if you are finally sailing on your dream cruise and a hurricane is nearby, you should always expect a change in itinerary.
Still, thinking about a cruise in the coming weeks and months? A cruise in the Southern Caribbean is usually less likely to be impacted by storms, including islands such as Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao.
Places such as St. Maarten, Bermuda, the Bahamas, Turks & Caicos, the Dominican Republic, and other islands in that general area are under increased risk.