What Happens When Bad Weather Hits A Cruise

We’ve all seen the movies, disaster strikes as ships are tossed through the sea in hurricane-like conditions. But, travelers take heed. The chances of experiencing such dramatic events on your next cruise are pretty slim. Unlike the high budget Hollywood flicks, we can’t control the weather, but cruise companies do take measures to ensure your sailing in safe conditions well before you head out to sea. If you have a cruise planned or are thinking of booking a cruise, here’s what you need to know when bad weather strikes.

Hurricane/Cyclone Season Dates

If you are at all concerned about experiencing bad weather as a result of a hurricane or cyclone, avoid booking a cruise during the following dates:

The Atlantic Coast (Caribbean, Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico): June 1-November 30

The Pacific Coast (Including Mexican Riviera & Hawaii): May 15-November 30

Cyclone Season (South Pacific & Australia): November 1 to April 30

Typhoon Season (Asia): Mid May-November

The Cruise Will Go On

It’s highly unlikely for cruise companies to pull the plug on your cruise due to bad weather. Cruise lines work closely with the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System, the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration and meteorologists before your ship even leaves the dock. Once you set sail, feel safe knowing that cruise ships are equipped with the highest level of technology to monitor weather patterns while at sea. If there is any chance of dangerous conditions, your captain will either reroute your ship and change the port or steer around the storm.

Changing Ports

If the captain and crew determine that it’s too risky to sail to a particular port, they may either decide to spend an extra day at sea, or change itineraries. Either way, announcements will be over the ship’s speakers.

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Experiencing Rough Waters

Even with your ship’s captain doing everything possible to make your cruise smooth, you may inevitably experience adverse weather or rough seas. The captain will keep you abreast on the conditions. If you experience seasickness, be sure to take medication at the first indication of bad weather. In worst-case scenarios, the pool or decks will be temporarily closed for your safety.

Ship Design

Remember, your ship was built to withstand the sea and all of its conditions. Built-in stabilizers allow the vessel to adjust for any heeling (when the boat leans to the side from waves). Add passengers to the ship, and the boat performs even better from the added weight.


Very rarely do cruise companies have to cancel a cruise and issue a refund due to bad weather. In the worst-case scenario, your cruise may be shortened by a couple of days. If this happens, you will be issued a prorated refund for those days or onboard credits to use during your cruise.

Protect Your Investment

Purchasing traveler’s insurance is always a good idea. You never know when unforeseen circumstances may arise. For example, even if your destination isn’t affected by bad weather, storms may cause flight cancellations, which in turn lead to missing your cruise. Insurance will reimburse you if this is the case.

If you are still concerned about bad weather, avoid cruising during hurricane or typhoon season. Alternately, you could pick destinations which lie outside of the hurricane belt: Barbados, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada, Trinidad and Tobago, Bonaire, Curaçao, Aruba, San Andrés, and the islands off Venezuela.

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