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Above-average hurricane season predicted for 2022: What that means for cruise ships

In:
03 Jun 2022

The first week of June kicked off hurricane season in the Atlantic, meaning there's a chance a tropical storm could form and disrupt cruise ship plans.

Cruise ship in a storm

Hurricane season runs between June 1 and November 30, and there's no telling what to expect each year as it relates to storms.

While there is potential for a hurricane to get in the way of your cruise ship plans, avoiding cruising all together during this time of year seems an overreaction.

With hurricane season back, now is a good time to refresh yourself on the basics and what you should know for this season.

Above-average hurricane season predicted for 2022

Storm near beach

For what it's worth, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) published their outlook for the 2022 hurricane season.

According to the agency, they a 65% chance of an above-normal season, a 25% chance of a near-normal season and a 10% chance of a below-normal season.

2022 hurricane season prediction

They believe there will be more storm than normal because:

  1. The ongoing La Niña that is likely to persist throughout the hurricane season
  2. Warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea
  3. Weaker tropical Atlantic trade winds
  4. An enhanced west African monsoon

They expect 14-21 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 6 to 10 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 3 to 6 major hurricanes (category 3, 4 or 5; with winds of 111 mph or higher). NOAA provides these ranges with a 70% confidence.

You can read the full outlook on NOAA's website.

Of course, these are just best guesses, so what will actually happen is still unknown.

Follow the man with the answers

Weather | Royal Caribbean Blog

If you have a Caribbean cruise booked this summer or fall, as your sail date approaches, you will probably start to wonder if a hurricane will impact your cruise.

Royal Caribbean employs its own meteorologist, who's job it is to track all the storms and provide each ship advice and insight.

While his job is to inform the fleet, he also shares his forecasts with the cruising public. You would be well served to follow James Van Fleet on any of his social media platforms, including Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.

While he doesn't post every day, when there is a tropical storm that could disrupt plans, he shares the various possibilities and gives much better insight into how the storm may (or may not) disrupt cruise ship plans. Watching the news forecasts rarely touch on cruise ship plans, so Mr. Van Fleet's insight is invaluable.

Basics of hurricane season

If you have a cruise planned during hurricane season, don't assume the worst about it being disrupted. More than likely, there won't be hurricanes around when you cruise.  But if there is, here are the basics.

Buy travel insurance

Travel insurance

Hurricanes don't just disrupt cruise ships, they can wreak havoc on many other aspects of travel. Getting to and from your cruise ship is just as likely, if not more so, to be impacted by a storm.

Travel insurance policies are relatively inexpensive and provide so much peace of mind should your plans not work out. 

Now is a good time to research the various travel insurance providers that are out there and review what a policy covers.

Keep in mind not all travel insurance policies are the same, so read the fine print about when it kicks in, and what it does and does not cover.

Ships will avoid hurricanes

If there is a hurricane predicted in the path of your ship, Royal Caribbean will go around the storm.

Itineraries can be flipped (port order changed), swapped out (eastern instead of western Caribbean or vice versa), or completely new itineraries created.

As long as the embarkation port is open, your ship will almost certainly sail, but there could be an itinerary change. Per the cruise contract you agreed to when you booked a cruise, no compensation is required to be given if your itinerary changes.

The bottom line is your ship will not sail anywhere near the storm.

What if the storm changes path and my ship is now in the way?

If the ocean starts getting too rough, cruise ships are able to outrun the storm.

A typical hurricane moves around 10 knots, but cruise ships can get up to 22 knots or higher in speed.

You can get a great deal

Brilliance of the Seas side docked

Want to find some of the cheapest prices for a Caribbean cruise? Book something in late summer or early fall.

Some of the cheapest times of the year to go on a cruise are the months of September and October because it falls right in the peak of hurricane season (and school is back in session). Late August is also usually priced cheaply.

Royal Caribbean updates: Tropical Storm Alex, infant policy & more

In:
02 Jun 2022

Welcome to the first week of June, and we have a few different Royal Caribbean news updates to share.

Cruise ship docked in Miami

There are many facets of cruising, and in an effort to keep you informed, here is a quick summary of the cruise news stories this week you should also be aware of, in addition to our other articles.

If you ever have a news tip, feel free to email it to [email protected] for possible inclusion in a future update!

Early Tropical Storm Alex could impact outlook

Tropical Storm Alex

It looks like we will have our first named storm of the 2022 Atlantic Hurricane Season this weekend when a depression comes over Mexico and into the Gulf of Mexico to form Tropical Storm Alex.

Given that it will likely pass through Florida over the weekend, there's a chance it could impact cruises. While no decision has been made yet to change or cancel any Royal Caribbean cruises yet, Royal Caribbean Chief Meteorologist James Van Fleet produced a series of videos on Thursday morning to provide an outlook for what to potentially expect.

Mr. Van Fleet warned if there was going to be any kind of closure at the ports, it would probably be on Saturday, June 4.

If and when Royal Caribbean announces any cancellations or changes, guests will be directly notified.

The system is likely to become a tropical depression or tropical storm while it moves northwest over the northwest Caribbean and southeastern Gulf of Mexico. It is not expected to become a hurricane.

Follow James Van Fleet on Twitter for additional updates.

Cruise industry calls again to end international air travel covid testing

The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) publicly called on the United States government to once again end pre-departure Covid-19 testing for air travelers coming to the United States.

The testing requirement is in place for all travelers, including U.S. citizens, whether they are vaccinated or not, to show a negative Covid test result before taking an international flight into the United States.

CLIA represents the interests of all the major cruise lines, including Royal Caribbean.

Royal Caribbean reverts infant policy

Royal Caribbean has changed back a policy for the minimum age of infant cruisers.

In early May, Royal Caribbean made a change that considered St. Kitts and Perfect Day at CocoCay "sea days" as it relates to infants. Sailings with three consecutive sea days require infants to be 12 months or older at the beginning of the cruise, instead of 6 months.

This week, that policy change was reversed and Royal Caribbean's website no longer lists those islands as part of the policy.

Royal Caribbean meets with Alaska tour operators and local leaders

Alaska Stakeholders

Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley highlighted a recent visit with Alaska's port officials and community members.

Mr. Bayley shared on Facebook that Royal Caribbean stakeholders recently visited Anchorage, Seward, Ketchikan, and Sitka to meet with more than 15 community partners, tour operators, and local leaders.

"Throughout the 7-day visit to Alaska, stakeholders saw Royal Caribbean’s donations put into action! The donations will help expand programs like Ketchikan’s ocean preservation and community resilience, Sitka Trail Works’ scenic trail development, and support marine science programs in local high schools."

Sitka port opening

"One of our top pillars is caring for the communities we visit, so it is exciting when we get to see partnerships unfold!"

"Thank you to all of our partners in Alaska for your dedication to unmatched cruise guest experiences, and to our shoreside employees who continue to support Alaska in ensuring amazing cruise vacations across the board! Cheers to an amazing cruise season in Alaska!"

Michael Bayley message on June 1

Royal Caribbean cruise ships shelter in Bahamas from Tropical Storm Eta

In:
09 Nov 2020

Royal Caribbean's cruise ships are safe from the wrath of Tropical Storm Eta, as any ships in the area have sought refuge in Bahamian waters.

Tropical Storm Eta made landfall over the Florida Keys, while impacting much of South Florida on Monday. 

Royal Caribbean Director / Chief Meteorologist James Van Fleet shared an update that Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruise ships are sticking close to shores of the Bahamas where the effects of the storm will be minimal.

 

Each of the ships have had their top decks locked down, anchors pulled up and bows of the ship pointed into the wind to minimize the impact.

Mr. Van Fleet shared that the ships are experiencing winds in the range of 40-65 knots, although he is expecting higher gusts.

Mr. Van Fleet also noted that the ships are "completely safe" in their current positions. He and his team discussed a variety of scenarios with the captain of each cruise ship to determine the best course of action.

Looking at the storm track and predictions helps Royal Caribbean minimize fuel consumption while there are no guests onboard.

The maximum sustained winds of Tropical Storm Eta were 65 mph (100 km/h).  Its wind damage is not expected to be great, but it is bringing a significant amount of rainfall to South Florida. Radar estimates indicate that over a foot of rain has fallen over the past 2 days in some areas.

Eta could dump an additional 6 to 12 inches.

The storm had maximum sustained winds of 65 mph Sunday night and made landfall on Lower Matecumbe Key around 11 p.m.

Royal Caribbean ships head back to Bahamas after Isaias passes

In:
03 Aug 2020

With Tropical Storm Isaias out of the way of Florida and the Bahamas, Royal Caribbean's fleet of ships that had gone west of Cuba are now headed back to their previous position in the Bahamas.

Cruise ship tracking website cruisemapper.com shows the half dozen ships making their way back through the Straits of Florida, and to the northern Bahamas near CocoCay.

The ships include Grandeur of the Seas, Adventure of the Seas, Navigator of the Seas, Mariner of the Seas, Brilliance of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas.

Prior to the storm, Royal Caribbean had been staging some of its ships in the vicinity of CocoCay, which allows for the ships to make quick trips back to Miami for supplies.

Late last week, Royal Caribbean moved these same ships west to avoid the path of Hurricane Isaias, as it approached with its category 1 winds and rain.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) in Miami said the storm now has maximum sustained winds of 70 mph -- just 4 mph shy of officially being a hurricane -- and is located about 250 miles south-southwest of Myrtle Beach, S.C. Isaias is moving north at 13 mph.

PortMiami re-opened around noon on August 2, and Mariner of the Seas is currently docked at Terminal A, as of Monday morning.

Royal Caribbean ships move west to avoid path of Hurricane Isaias

In:
01 Aug 2020

Hurricane Isaias is approaching The Bahamas this weekend, and it has forced a few Royal Caribbean ships to move out of the region to avoid the path of the storm.

While there are no cruises sailing for guests, a number of Royal Caribbean ships have been anchored off CocoCay, including Grandeur of the Seas, Adventure of the Seas, Navigator of the Seas, Mariner of the Seas, Brilliance of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas.

Royal Caribbean spread its fleet out around the world during the voluntary cruise shutdown, with some ships remaining in the Caribbean, and others in Europe and Asia.

According to cruisemapper.com, these ships have all headed west, through the Straits of Florida and to an area west of Cuba.

According to the National Hurricane Center’s 8 a.m. update, Hurricane Isaias remains on track to skirt up Florida’s east coast as it gains strength entering the Bahamas Saturday morning.

Moving cruise ships out of the path of a storm is normal operating procedure for cruise lines to ensure the crew onboard are safe, along with protecting the ship.

There are no cruises during this global health crisis, which prevented Royal Caribbean from having to alter sailings or cancel sailings all together.

When tropical storms develop, Royal Caribbean's Chief Meteorologist James Van Fleet works closely on the track of the storm and provides guidance to ships on the safest course of action.

 

Forecasters expect Isaias to move near the east coast of the Florida peninsula Saturday night through Sunday.

What to know about cruising during hurricane season in the Caribbean

In:
30 Mar 2020

Going on a cruise during hurricane season is an opportunity for some, a no-go for others, and questionable to many more.  So is going on a cruise during hurricane season a good idea?

Hurricane season is a balance of potentially great cruise prices against the chance a storm could disrupt your plans. 

Should you cruise during hurricane season?

Hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30, but the season's peak is primarily between August and October. 

Tropical storms are notoriously unpredictable, but there are usually around a dozen or so storms in a given year, with some being stronger or weaker than others. The prediction for 2020 is 14 to 18 tropical storms, seven to nine of which could become hurricanes and two to four could strengthen into major hurricanes.

The reality is many storms never impact land, and few have a direct impact on places cruise ships will visit. Moreover, if there is a storm in the area, Royal Caribbean will change the itinerary to avoid ever getting near the path of the storm.

The best reason to cruise during hurricane season is the lower prices. Cruises during this time of year scare away some people, and so prices tend to be lower to attract others. Moreover, the peak of hurricane season is when school is back in session, so less families are likely to cruise during this time of year.

Ultimately, you should cruise during hurricane season if you are flexible with your plans and okay with an itinerary shift. The weather might not be ideal, but there is a very good chance you will still be able to go on your cruise.

More: It's supposed to rain my entire cruise!

Will a hurricane affect my cruise?

The chance of a hurricane forming and disrupting your itinerary is pretty low, but it is possible to occur.

Royal Caribbean's top priority is the safety of the guests, crew and ship, and will never send a ship near a hurricane. To that point, if a storm is predicted to go anywhere near where a ship is scheduled to be, Royal Caribbean will be the first to cancel scheduled port stops or even completely change the itinerary.

Royal Caribbean's Chief Meteorologist James Van Fleet works year round to monitor weather patterns in order to keep ships safe. During hurricane season, he goes into overdrive to make very certain the ship's Captain and Royal Caribbean are making the best decisions possible.

Cruising during hurricane season means having a certain level of flexibility with your plans. While the odds of a storm affecting your cruise is low, you should be mentally prepared for that to occur.

Hurricanes have the potential to impact a wide area of the ocean, so yes, increased wave height or winds are possible.  However, Mr. Van Fleet works with each ship's Captain to project the best course to avoid the worst of any storm. Moreover, Royal Caribbean's ships are designed to be able to handle significantly worse weather conditions while providing as smooth a ride as possible for guests.

Perhaps the greatest source of frustration for cruisers is not actually being on the ship when there is a hurricane in the Atlantic or Caribbean, but the nonstop news cycle in the days leading up to the cruise that causes a great deal of anxiety. There are lot of unknowns, but with more data pouring in, prediction models become more reliable closer to the sailing.

Are cruises cancelled due to hurricanes?

On rare occasions, Royal Caribbean will cancel a cruise if a storm is projected to impact an area where the ship is scheduled to embark/disembark.

Cancelling a cruise is usually the last option for Royal Caribbean, and they are more likely to keep a ship out at sea for an extra day or two and then subsequently shorten the next sailing, than outright cancel a full sailing.

Operating cruises during hurricane season is something Royal Caribbean has been doing for decades, so they have a great deal of expertise when it comes to best practices, and it is part of the reason why cruises are almost never canceled.

If you have a cruise booked during hurricane season, you should absolutely plan on going on the cruise.

Invest in travel insurance

The decision to get travel insurance or not seems to be a no-brainer when it comes to cruising during hurricane season because of all the possibilities it entails.

Whether you get travel insurance from Royal Caribbean or from a third-party provider, you want to ensure the policy covers disruption in case of weather-related events.

It is also important to consider "Cancel For Any Reason" policies.  Most travel insurance only kicks in if your vacation is interrupted (i.e. Royal Caribbean cancelling the cruise or airlines cancelling your flight).  A hurricane in the Atlantic and your fear of going is not grounds for travel insurance to kick in.  

If you want the flexibility to cancel your trip before Royal Caribbean does, you will need a policy that includes Cancel For Any Reason.

What happens if you have a cruise booked and there is a hurricane?

If you see a storm is formed and could possibly impact your sailing, be sure to follow Royal Caribbean and James Van Fleet on Twitter for updates on any impact.

Your travel agent will also inform you if they are apprised of any changes.

Royal Caribbean talks Hurricane Dorian hit on revenue, impact of ship upgrades, Perfect Day at Lelepa and more

In:
30 Oct 2019

During an earnings call with investors today, Royal Caribbean's executives discussed a variety of topics related to the company's financial success in the third quarter. Part of those discussions shed some light into various plans and progress being made by the cruise line that guests may find intriguing.

Hurricane Dorian cost Royal Caribbean $27 million

Anytime a hurricane disrupts cruise itineraries, there is an impact on Royal Caribbean's bottom line, but Hurricane Dorian caused the largest impact of any hurricane in Royal Caribbean's history.

Royal Caribbean Chief Financial Officer Jason Liberty characterized Hurricane Dorian's unusual, one-time impact on Royal Caribbean's financial performance.  Three main Florida embarkation ports closed on a weekend as a precautionary measure.  These measures impacted 16 sailings and made this the most disruptive storm in the company's history. 

The financial impact was particularly large because the affected ships included the very successful Oasis-class, because Perfect Day at CocoCay was closed for 10 days, and because of the cruise line's extensive relief efforts.  The combination of guest compensation, the closure of Perfect Day at CocoCay and the relief efforts negatively impacted the third quarter by $27 million.

Guests love the upgrades and enhancements

Royal Caribbean's investments in destinations and ships continue to be a hit with guests who are booking cruises to experience them.

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. chairman and CEO Richard D. Fain spoke about this effect, "Perfect Day at CocoCay continues to amaze our Royal Caribbean International guests, and boost our bottom line. Our vessel modernization program is driving strong results. These upgrades are expensive, but our guests love them and reward us accordingly."

"Or take our investments in technology, which are beginning to bear fruit. These investments are expensive, and demanding, but they improve the experience for crew and guest alike. They make us more attractive, or more efficient. "

Perfect Day at Lelepa will built with sustainability in mind

Royal Caribbean recently announced a new Perfect Day island destination in Vanuatu, and the island will be powered by renewable sources of energy to ensure it is carbon footprint is reduced.

Mr. Fain spoke about their plans for Lelepa, "There's also one, very special aspect of this project that is also worth noting. Lelapa will be the first private cruise destination in the world that achieves carbon neutrality. All of the energy consumed will be generated from renewable sources. Accomplishing that requires both major investment and major innovation, but Perfect Day at Lelapa will be rich in both."

A look at how many guests are experiencing Perfect Day at CocoCay

You do not have to listen to earnings call with investors to know Perfect Day at CocoCay has been a giant hit with guests.

Mr. Liberty mentioned at one point in the call, more than 70% of Royal Caribbean's guests sailing on a Caribbean cruise will experience Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Plans for Perfect Day at Lelepa

Royal Caribbean International CEO and President Michael Bayley provided a few details on Perfect Day at Lelepa in Vanautu during the call.

Mr. Bayley indicated Perfect Day at Lelepa should open in late 2021 or early 2022.

He also said that guest volume for Perfect Day at Lelepa will be less than Perfect Day at CocoCay, "The volume will be less less than Perfect Day at CocoCay, which I think at its peak in a few years will get to close to 3 million people going there. The number for Vanuatu, I think, reaches close to 750-800,000 is currently in our plans."

Symphony of the Seas changes itinerary to avoid Tropical Storm Karen

In:
23 Sep 2019

Royal Caribbean's Symphony of the Seas cruise ship has changed itineraries to avoid the path of Tropical Storm Karen.

Guests sailing onboard Symphony of the Seas have been informed of a change in their sailing that will skip scheduled stops in San Juan, Puerto Rico and St. Maarten and insyead visit Cozumel and Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Thanks to @FmtTony for providing this photo

Symphony of the Seas and Harmony of the Seas have now had their itinerary changed to avoid Tropical Storm Karen.

Royal Caribbean changes Harmony of the Seas itinerary to avoid Tropical Storm Karen

In:
23 Sep 2019

Royal Caribbean has rerouted Harmony of the Seas to avoid the path of Tropical Storm Karen.

Sheri from Cruise Tips TV shared an update from Harmony of the Seas to indicate an announcement was made onboard that the ship will change from an Eastern to a Western Caribbean itinerary.

Instead of visiting St. Thomas San Juan, the ship will head to Cozumel and Costa Maya in Mexico.

First-hand look at Royal Caribbean's Hurricane Dorian disaster relief in The Bahamas

In:
07 Sep 2019

In the days since Hurricane Dorian rolled through The Bahamas and inflicted a great deal of damage to many islands, Royal Caribbean has assembled a colossal relief effort by having its ships deliver much-needed supplies.  

Royal Caribbean invited us to join them on Mariner of the Seas to get a first-hand look at the hard work their crew, volunteers and staff are doing on a near daily basis across many ships to assist Bahamians who have had their lives disrupted by the storm.

From her homeport of Port Canaveral, Mariner of the Seas sails three and four night sailings to The Bahamas, and while many cruise guests are enjoying a fantastic cruise vacation, a veritable army of volunteer crew members from all types of roles across the ship report to the main dining room to assemble 10,000 meals.

Dancers, technicians, servers, officers and more prepared sandwiches, proteins with rice and fruits and snacks so that they can be distributed in a few short hours to locals in The Bahamas who desperately need it.

These crew members took a break from their personal time to join in the effort and ensure these meals would be ready for delivery on-time.

Beginning at 10:30pm, crew members worked tirelessly to assemble the meals, while occasionally breaking out into a song, cheering a crate being filled and otherwise sharing a smile with each other.  

Fast-forward a few hours later, and at daybreak carts after carts of food was standing by to be delivered into Freeport, Bahamas.

Royal Caribbean is working with the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to help distribute the food to those that need it the most.  NEMA is part of The Bahamanian disaster management effort, and essentially Royal Caribbean provides the disaster relief supplies, as well as the manpower to load it for NEMA to distribute. 

A convoy of buses, trucks, and other private vehicles arrived to pick up the supplies. In less than 12 hours, food went from storage to packaged to on a vehicle to be delivered. 

 

 

In addition to the supplies delivered, Royal Caribbean also brought aboard hundreds of evacuees so that they could be taken out of Freeport and brought to Nassau, Bahamas. Evacuees enjoyed breakfast, beverages and a movie screening during the short voyage to Nassau. 

Earlier today, Mariner of the Seas became the third ship in Royal Caribbean International's fleet to provide such aid, and there are a number of other ships prepared to do the same in the coming days and weeks.

Royal Caribbean is committing $1 million to Dorian disaster relief and matching every dollar of guest and employee donations. To make sure those donations go where they can do the most good, they are collaborating with the Bahamian government and its non-profit partner, the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF), and a network of Bahamian charities and other local organizations, including the Bahamas Feeding Network.

You can donate money by visiting the PADF site.

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