If you’re going to schedule a cruise vacation to the Caribbean during the hurricane season you need to take extra precautions to ensure you are prepared for all contingencies. As seen in the incident in late August 2011 in San Juan, Puerto Rico with Hurricane Irene, your cruise line may have to change their departure time at the direction of port authorities. In this case over 450 people missed their ship’s departure on Royal Caribbean and Carnival because the schedule was moved up three or four hours to avoid the hurricane. Here are a few tips you use to protect your cruise vacation investment and not have to watch your ship sail off without you.

Use the services of an experienced travel agent. You will not pay a penny more for your cruise vacation and you’ll know that you’ll have a professional looking out for your best interests–especially if there are itinerary changes due to weather. You should not count solely on your cruise line to contact you if there’s an itinerary change. In fact, they may not even attempt to contact you at all.

If your port of embarkation is within driving distance make sure your cruise line or travel professional can contact you while in route. Provide them with emergency phone numbers and an email address you can check while mobile. If you don’t have email access make sure your emergency contact does.

If you have to fly into your port of embarkation plan to arrive early–before your day of departure. This will provide you a buffer in case of flight delays and changes in departure for your cruise. Yes, it will cost you more, but it’s your cruise vacation. You don’t want the stress of worrying if you’re going to make your scheduled departure time–especially if it gets moved up. Arrive a day or two early. Relax. Adjust to the time change if need be. Take in the sights.

Be proactive and contact the cruise line to make sure there are no itinerary changes. At a minimum visit the cruise line’s web site. You may need to pack a different wardrobe if your Caribbean cruise that embarks from a port in the mid-Atlantic has to completely change its itinerary and travel to Canada instead to avoid a storm. Sometimes these changes are made several days before your scheduled departure date.

Travel with a passport. Technically you don’t need one for a closed loop cruise that originates in the United States or one of its territories. But as the people in the San Jan incident found out, without one it may be very difficult to fly to another country such as Barbados or Aruba to catch up with your cruise ship–even if the cruise line is picking up the tab!

Vacation Cruising ebookPurchase travel insurance as it will protect your cruise vacation if you are delayed and miss your departure due to weather-related events. And you never know when you’ll have a medical emergency.

Plan to check in to your cruise as early as possible. Do your sightseeing at the port the day before. You may avoid being stranded like one of those in San Juan.

Consider purchasing your flight as part of an air-sea package from the cruise line as they have the responsibility to get you to your ship on time. At least ask your travel agent for a quote so that you’ll really know what it costs, rather than rely on Internet tales.

If you enjoyed these cruise vacation tips you’ll really like my Vacation Cruising ebook. It’s available for download free.

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20 Responses to Cruise vacation tips for the hurricane season

  1. Sandra says:

    My advice for taking a cruise during hurricane season is DON’T! No all kidding aside you probably get some really good price breaks when you take your cruise at hurricane season don’t you? Your tips to be prepared were great and I look forward to the ebook Vacation Cruising, I haven’t had time to watch it yet but I will. I was wondering do you know if it is true or not, do sharks follow cruise ships? Anyway like I said you had some great advice and some very helpful tips thank you for sharing them with us.

  2. Brenda says:

    Practical information, but i think I personally would book my cruise at a safer time of the year.

  3. Dallas says:

    I sure wish I could have unlimited access to an industry insider like the author, Jim Rannazzisi as my travel agent when I decide to set up a family cruise. I imagine the money one can save when they book a cruise vacation can add up after only a few years, taking advantage of the insider knowledge that might allow you to save via a few loop holes or standard booking methods used by industry pros.

  4. Aaron says:

    I think that might be the biggest misconception about travel agencies: the idea that the travel agency increases the price in order to earn a profit. This might well be the biggest reason most people refrain from using a travel agency and as a result, they miss out on the benefits and the added assurance of having a professional looking out for their best interests-and as the author says, this can be especially valuable if there are itinerary changes due to weather. However, in this day and age of information, it should be rather easy to book a cruise with a company that uses web sites or social media to keep its customers informed with up to the minute information. Either that or visit an informative web site source such as this web page.

  5. Alona says:

    The title of the web site header indicates that this is a resource of vacation tips for not only ocean liners, but also river cruises. Most people come to a web site like this one for cruise ship rate information, but now that you are aware of it, some of you may be wondering what exactly are river cruises. I know I am. So I have to ask, are river cruises anything like those river boats like the Jungle Queen which go out for one night and provide dinner and drinks? Or would that be just a river boat? Is there some distinction between a river boat and a river cruise? I did not see any information or news about river cruises per say. All I see are banners and links for the major cruise lines. Does the manual provide information about existing river cruises and their rates?

    • Alona,
      Great questions. The river cruises that will be included on this site are those that sail for days at a time. A week is a typical sailing. Many of the ships are designed with a low profile that that they can sail under very low bridges. There are even paddle wheelers. As such they have nowhere near the passenger load a the major ocean cruise vessels. The Vacation Cruising ebook I’m offering does not address pricing.

  6. Edward says:

    That is a good point that David made about Carnival cruise lines. All the more reason to book a vacation with a cruise line that has a web site with a news feed that is frequently updated or a social media presence that they utilize to keep their clients well informed. How much effort the cruise line makes to reach their passengers and keep them informed is also something I will also consider, in addition to being well prepared.

  7. Samantha says:

    I wouldn’t think to Travel with a passport on a cruise, but when you think about it, you are venturing into international waters. The last thing you need are extra worries or complications. When traveling, I like to adopt a survivor’s mentality. I try to be as prepared with both tools and knowledge. I certainly watch plenty of Man vs Wild and other survival shows. It’s bad enough we have to worry about other hazards on cruises such as food poisoning or catching some ailment from being isolated on board with contagion passenger(s) or bad weather; The least you can do is eliminate any additional worries.

  8. [...] liked these cruise vacation tips you’ll really like my Vacation Cruising e-book packed with cruising tips. It’s available for download [...]

  9. David Taylor says:

    I have found that Carnival is really good about making use of current technology to keep in contact with passengers.

  10. drearrylo says:

    I had no idea that the cruise line did not have to be in touch with an itinerary change. I guess I’ll have to check my ticket language more closely.

  11. Stan says:

    Good information!. You’ve convinced me to subscribe to your newsletter and check out your ebook.

  12. vancergueilley says:

    Why are you so sure that a travel agent will not add to the vacation cost? After all, I’m paying him a commission.

  13. Mary says:

    Traveling with a passport is good advice. The last thing you need to be doing while on vacation is worrying about unnecessary complications that may come about due to some emergency or change of plans. It’s bad enough we have to worry about other hazards that go with cruises like food poisoning or catching some ailment from being isolated on a ship with a sick passenger(s) or bad weather; The least you can do is everything you can yourself to eliminate any additional worries.

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  15. Dennis says:

    I rarely cruise with travel cancellation insurance. Why is it such a good idea?

  16. Mark Brinker says:

    Another excellent post, Jim. I’m going to subscribe to your blog’s feed.

  17. tubouishitz says:

    Getting to your port of embarkation a day or two in advance can significantly add to the cost of the cruise. However, I do see your point as it avoids a stressful situation, which is why you take a vacation in the first place!

  18. Jon Clayton says:

    Can you show me how using a cruise agent is the same price as deals I can find on the Internet?

  19. Carol says:

    Thank you for the great information. The use of a professional travel agent sounds like the way to go. I guess just because you are on vacation doesn’t mean you can stick your head in the sand and not pay attention to what is going on around you huh?

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