Hurricanes: Don't worry!

In:
03Jun2011

Hurricane season in the Atlantic began this week and every year cruise passengers worry about how a hurricane could impact their cruise.  While there's the possibility that your itinerary may change, Royal Caribbean head Captain Bill Wright urges passengers not to worry.

"Keep in mind that hurricanes or storms are travelling at about six to 12 knots and today's modern ship cruises over 20 knots," he says.

"In a worst-case scenario, we can outrun the storm, although we very rarely have to do that. As soon as we see a storm could affect our routing or home port, we move into the situation room with the president and all the teams, as do all the major cruise lines.

"Here we determine whether we may have to skip a port, continue as usual or exchange a Western Caribbean cruise for an Eastern Caribbean cruise. Once this happens, it gets to be a bit of competition among the lines to see who can set up the new schedule the fastest, ensuring the best berth in the new ports."

Those are for en-route ports, but what happens if a hurricane's heading to your home port? Wright explains: "This probably is the most difficult time, as we have to worry about all passengers on the ship, plus those waiting for the ship. For example, if Fort Lauderdale is our base, we may have to move to Port Canaveral or stay an extra day at sea, necessitating a massive re-deployment of our passengers."

What about rough seas on the edge of the storms?

"Today's ships are computerstabilized, making us able to cope much better than we could some years ago," he says.

"The technology really showed us what it could do when we were ferrying Oasis of the Seas across the Atlantic with just crew and workers on board finishing the interior. We hit some major weather but (everyone) kept working through the storm."