Disney Dream passengers got a rare sighting on Sunday, May 29, 2022, during their visit to Castaway Cay, when a waterspout was sighted just offshore.
The severe weather caused brief delays for visiting guests, but no damage or injuries were reported, and there was no alteration to the ship’s itinerary.
Waterspout Sighted Near Castaway Cay
The waterspout was spotted just south of Castaway Cay, near where Disney Cruise Line docks at the private island destination. Amazing video from passengers on the island shows the waterspout near Disney Dream, and it remained intact for several minutes but did not move onshore.
Waterspouts are essentially the same as land-based tornadoes, but are typically much weaker. They often develop on the fringes of severe weather, where the moisture-laden air is more turbulent, and can cause severe damage to boats, ships, and other watercraft.
While there was poor weather – overcast skies, intermittent rain, occasional strong winds – in the area on Sunday, conditions were not bad enough to cancel the ship’s port of call, and guests were able to enjoy different attractions and port adventures at Castaway Cay.
Some guests did report the need to shelter on the island until lightning had passed the area. Because of the risk of a lightning strike, guests were not permitted to reboard the ship (via metal gangways) until the lightning had ended, but the delay was not significant.
The Dream-class Disney Dream was docked at the tropical island from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, before returning to Port Canaveral on Monday, May 30, ending her 3-night sailing.
No other ship was visiting Castaway Cay at the same time, though both Disney Dream and her sister ship, the Dream-class Disney Fantasy, are calling regularly on the island.
Both ships have a guest capacity of 2,500 at double occupancy, but as many as 4,000 guests may be onboard each vessel when the ships are fully booked. As the summer season is beginning, many cruise ships are now sailing with higher occupancy as families enjoy cruise vacations once again.
Weather Affecting Cruise Ships
Poor weather often impacts cruise ships and port of call visits. High winds, for example, may make docking operations unsafe and could result in port cancellations or other difficulties.
On March 16, 2022, Norwegian Escape ran aground in Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic, an incident that was caused by unusually high winds pushing the vessel onto the sandbar.
Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ Seven Seas Mariner was nearly hit by a tornado in New Orleans on March 22, 2022, while the ship was moving down the Mississippi River.
Stormy weather has caused cruise ships to collide with docks, or caused port of call cancelations, particularly in crowded ports where ships may need to maneuver more carefully. For instance, bad weather caused several cancelations in Nassau at the end of December and early January.
Weather conditions can even delay cruise ships for embarkation and debarkation, particularly when unsafe conditions cause navigational difficulties. In Galveston, Texas, for example, heavy fog can often cause delays.
Exceptionally severe weather, such as hurricanes, can have dramatic impacts on cruises, completely altering itineraries or causing cancelations if necessary.
Fortunately, cruise ship crews are well trained for all inclement weather situations, and the ship’s officers stay apprised of all weather systems that may impact each sailing, port visit, or itinerary route.
The most important consideration is always safety and keeping cruise guests and crew members safe during potentially dangerous weather.