When a hurricane, snowstorm, or any other sort of bad weather hits on land, there's very little hotels, theme parks, and other travel destinations can do other than batten down the hatches. Walt Disney (DIS) - Get Free Report can't move Disney World simply because bad weather is on the way nor can any of its rivals.
Disney can, of course, close its theme parks and may even encourage people to change their plans by modifying its policies to allow people to rebook. It can't, however, simply sail Epcot or the Magic Kingdom out of harm's way.
That's one area where cruise lines have a major advantage over their stationary land-locked competition. Royal Caribbean International (RCL) - Get Free Report, Carnival Cruise Line (CCL) - Get Free Report, Norwegian Cruise Line (NCLH) - Get Free Report, and any other line (Disney too) can change itineraries in order to keep customers away from bad weather.
So, even though it's hurricane season (and a hurricane appears to be headed toward Florida, cruise passengers have little to worry about when it comes to safety. Being safe, however, is not the same as not being impacted, and cruise customers traveling in an area where bad weather is expected, should not expect their trip to go as planned.
Cruise Lines Sail Away From Bad Weather
It's important to know that cruise lines won't put passengers in danger. That's their top focus and they'll cancel, shorten, or even lengthen your trip in order to avoid exposing passengers and crew to rough waters.
That's something Carnival Brand Ambassador John Heald made very clear in a social media post.
On a more serious note I have of course had so many people ask about what will happen for their cruise next week with Fiona and Ian causing some very bad weather?
The answer is that it is far too early to say and again I want to stress and to promise to you that our Fleet Operations Center are working 24 hours a day to monitor and to track the storms paths.
We will never ever put you in harms way.
As for any changes, well we will of course let you know.
All the major cruise lines have their own people monitoring the weather and they will make changes to sail away from any possible major problems. That does not mean they can guarantee you sunny skies or that nothing will change about your trip.
It's very possible that port stops will be skipped or changed in order to avoid bad weather. If that happens, Royal Caribbean, Carnival, and Norwegian will all offer refunds for any shore excursions that customers had paid for.
Bad weather that can't be avoided can also lead to changes onboard. Production shows, for example, might be canceled if the ship won't be stable enough for performers to work safely. In addition, outdoor events may be moved or canceled as weather allows.
What Happens When a Cruise Line Misses a Port?
Standard cruise contracts make it very clear that itinerary changes happen and that a missed port won't come with any refunds. You will get any taxes or fees you paid for that port back, but cruise lines don't guarantee that stops will be made as planned.
Royal Caribbean, for example, has been known to cancel stops at its CocoCay private island when seas are too rough to safely dock there. All the cruise lines will make changes to stay far away from danger which could mean new ports or even added sea days.
And, while a canceled port sometimes means losing a destination you had at least partially booked the trip for, in other cases, it could be a positive. It's possible you will be switched to a "better" destination (or at least one you personally are more excited about).
Cruise lines can also cancel sailings or delay their departure or return if leaving or coming back at the planned times would put passengers, the crew, and the ship in danger. And, if you end up at sea longer than planned, you won't have to pay more and items like internet and drink packages will be extended at no extra cost.
That, of course, is not quite as much fun for people with flights booked for the day the cruise was supposed to return. If your flight was booked through the cruise line, it will help you rebook. Everyone else is at the mercy of the various airlines.