I'm not a meteorologist, nor a travel-insurance salesperson, but I have plenty of experience with tropical hurricanes. I moved from the northeast to South Florida more than twenty years ago, and I'll never forget the smack of Hurricane Andrew back in '92. However, what I remember most about the past two decades of South Florida's late summers are the sweet sultry days, and warm ocean waters where you can wade in the ocean under a spell of moonlight.
My point being: While hurricanes should always be taken seriously, the odds that you’ll ever encounter one on your cruise are exceptionally slim. In fact, with just a few precautions, you’ll not only have peace of mind, but a few insider tips on how to enjoy cruising during late summer and early fall – which, in my opinion, is the very best time for sailing the Caribbean with Norwegian Cruise Line.
First, a few facts: Hurricane season officially runs June 1 through November 30, but peak season is between mid-August to the end of September, when storms form off the coast of Africa. Both the Caribbean and the Mexican west coast are considered vulnerable spots (as well as the entire eastern seaboard of the United States, for that matter). How often storms form, where they migrate, and how large or small they grow are subject to the whims of nature. In my unscientific observation, there is far more likelihood of getting into an auto accident every time you drive you car, then ever encountering a hurricane-strength storm at sea.
What is scientific fact, however, is that satellite technology has improved in following a storm’s trajectory, and cruise ships – for decades – have expertly devised navigation plans to circumvent a storm’s predicted path. So let’s talk worse-case scenarios: A Norwegian trip through the eastern Caribbean that could potentially hit the storm’s path would deter your ship to its Western Caribbean ports of call, steering clear of the storm’s trajectory. You could be disappointed about the itinerary change, or, as any seasoned traveler will tell you, it’s often the unexpected detours that turn into undiscovered gifts.
Now that we've covered the seriousness of the storm and the slim odds of an encounter, if cruising during peak season, you're in for a treat. In all likelihood, you'll have plenty of time for adults-only activities because it's back-to-school time for kids. Because it's off-season, you'll find some unbelievable cruise values and special savings. The solution is simple: Invest a small portion of those savings in travel insurance and you're still going to come out way ahead in your total vacation costs.
Here's another hurricane precaution you can turn into a win-win: If for any reason, you're worried about being stranded in the city you're embarking or disembarking from because of an oncoming storm, consider adding a few extra hotel days. As we've stressed, the odds that you'll ever be confronted with a direct hit are super slim, but if you add a few days on to your stay, you have a cushion in case you're flight to or from home is cancelled. (Important Tip: Don't wait until the storm is predicted to book these reservations. This is something you'll want to handle at the time of your cruise booking.)
Odds are that you’ll be blessed with a few extra days in a fabulous city, such as my Miami hometown. Those of us who’ve had the fortune of living in the sub-tropics, count our blessings. We are madly in love with the lush tropic beauty and temperate climate. And although there are those rare times when we’re forced to brace for storms and prepare for the unknown, we wouldn’t have it any other way. After all, we live in paradise, and we’d love to share its magic with you.