Visit our travel agent friends at MEI Travel

"Very active" Hurricane season predicted for 2024: What that means for cruise ships

04 Apr 2024

The 2024 Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to November 30, is expected to be very active, with Colorado State University (CSU) predicting a total of 23 named storms. 

Hurricane as seen from space

According to CSU's forecast, 11 out of the 23 storms are anticipated to become hurricanes, 5 of which are projected to be major. In total, they're predicting 115 named storm days. 

While this doesn't mean you should rush to cancel your planned cruise, it will be wise to monitor weather updates in the days leading up to your sailing, ensuring that you're prepared for any potential disruptions. 

Read more: Cruising in hurricane season: What you need to know

The probability of a major hurricane making landfall in the United States and Caribbean is estimated to be well above its average


CSU's report states that the probability of at least one major hurricane, defined as a Category 3, 4, or 5 storm, making landfall along the entire United States coastline is 62%. In comparison, the average from 1880 to 2020 was 43%. 

Moreover, the probability of at least one major hurricane tracking through the Caribbean is 66%, increasing from the 47% average between 1880 and 2020. 

While these are just predictions, CSU's confidence is higher than normal this year given how hurricane-favorite the conditions, including the transition from El Niño to La Niña and the record-warm sea surface temperatures in the eastern and central Atlantic, appear to be. 

The entire forecast is available on Colorado State University's website

What you need to know about taking a cruise during the 2024 hurricane season


If you haven't already, now is a great time to begin researching different travel insurance policies. Not only do hurricanes have the potential to alter cruise itineraries, but they can lead to unexpected flight delays and cancellations, too. 

Purchasing an insurance policy will provide peace of mind in the event that your travel plans are disrupted. 

Before settling on one, though, it's important to be aware of what each covers. If you want the ability to cancel your sailing despite the cruise departing as scheduled, you'll want to ensure that your policy has a "Cancel For Any Reason" clause. Otherwise, you'll forfeit the entire cost of the vacation.

Read more: Travel insurance for a cruise: Why you need it for a Royal Caribbean cruise

Don't book a cruise for a single port of call

Storm near beach

If a storm does develop before or during your cruise that puts your current itinerary at risk, Royal Caribbean will alter the schedule to ensure that passengers and crew remain safe. 

This means that your 7-night Eastern Caribbean cruise could become a Western one, visiting ports like Cozumel and Falmouth instead of San Juan and St. Maarten. Last year, a cruise to Bermuda onboard Vision of the Seas was changed to sail to the Bahamas, including Nassau and CocoCay, because of Hurricane Lee. 

Additionally, ships are designed to be able to outrun rough seas. While the average speed of hurricanes is around 10 knots, many ships can reach speeds of 22 knots or higher. 


As long as the cruise's embarkation port is open, it is pretty much guaranteed that the ship will set sail. 

Note that per the cruise contract agreed to upon booking, Royal isn't required to provide compensation for any itinerary changes. 

Bring plenty of seasickness medication


Whether you are sailing during the peak of hurricane season or not, it's smart to come prepared with some seasickness remedies in case your ship does encounter some rough swells. 

All ships are headed by a skilled captain, who will do everything possible to avoid unfavorable sailing conditions. Additionally, cruise ships are equipped with stabilizer fins that help reduce (but not completely eliminate) the amount of motion felt by guests. 

Rather than spend a fraction of your cruise feeling ill, come prepared with Dramamine, acupressure bands, or whichever remedy works best for you. 

Don't risk flying in on the same day as your departure

Though flying in at least one day before your ship's departure is always recommended due to the unpredictability of air travel, it becomes even more important during hurricane season. 

Even if you aren't sailing to the Caribbean or Bahamas, a storm that impacts Central Florida can wreak havoc on flights, disrupting those flying all over the United States. 

Cruise ships won't wait for those with delayed or canceled flights, meaning that if 1:00pm rolls around and you're still waiting on your plane to depart, it's likely you won't end up making the all-abord time. 

Read more: The costly cruising mistake newbies make planning their first cruise

Though you can save money on a cruise during hurricane season, sailing during this time of year means having a certain level of flexibility with your plans

Hurricane as seen from space

During the latter half of the hurricane season, potential cruisers can typically find some low fares compared to sailings that depart in June and mid-July. 

While part of the reason is because the peak summer travel season has ended, it's also to account for the uncertainty that accompanies cruising during hurricane season. 

For example, a 7-night cruise onboard Wonder of the Seas in early September starts at $909 per person for an interior cabin. The same cruise, which visits the Eastern Caribbean and Perfect Day at CocoCay, in July costs $1,559. By choosing to cruise a few weeks later, you can potentially save over $600 per cruiser! 

Thankfully, cruising during hurricane season is just as safe as any other time of the year. Storms are a reality of life that can impact travel at any point, and cruise lines take heightened precautions during hurricane season. 

Royal Caribbean cancels cruise on Vision of the Seas due to Tropical Storm Ophelia

22 Sep 2023

Sometimes, Royal Caribbean has to make the tough decision to cancel a sailing because of weather. 

Vision of the Seas sailing away

This happened recently for two cruises onboard Radiance of the Seas due to a problem with the ship's propulsion.

Unlike the mechanical issue that forced Royal Caribbean to cancel the sailings to Alaska, another cancellation has been made due to the weather. 

Those who were scheduled to depart on Vision of the Seas on September 23 were notified that their sailing has been canceled due to Tropical Storm Ophelia. 

Read moreAll about Vision Class cruise ships

Hurricane as seen from space

Royal Caribbean made the decision around 7:30pm EST on September 21. The update reads, "Along with our Chief Meteorologist, we’ve been closely monitoring a developing tropical storm bringing forecasted high winds and inclement weather in and around Baltimore, Maryland."

"Unfortunately, the weather will prevent us from safely conducting our upcoming cruise on Vision of the Seas, and we’ll have to cancel our September 23rd, 2023 sailing."

Nobody wants to hear that their highly-anticipated cruise has been canceled, and while compensation is never enough to heal the disappointment, it is a nice gesture made by the cruise line. 


Those who were supposed to set sail on Vision of the Seas tomorrow will receive a 100% refund, including taxes and fees, pre-paid packages and gratuities, amenities, shore excursions and any flights purchased through Royal Caribbean, and pre-purchased Royal Caribbean Travel Protection.

It will be refunded to the payment on file within 14 business days; however, they do say that some banking institutions may take longer.

If a Future Cruise Credit (FCC) was used to pay for the cruise, they will refund any new funds paid above the certificate amount. Plus, they will reinstate the original FCC certificate.

Moreover, everyone will get a 50% FCC to be used towards a future Royal Caribbean sailing that should arrive by September 29, 2023. The new cruise must be booked by December 31, 2023.

The 5-night cruise onboard the 78,340 gross registered ton vessel was scheduled to depart from Baltimore, Maryland and sail to Bermuda for an overnight stay. 

Read moreSee how Royal Caribbean ships stack up by size (2023)

Where is Tropical Storm Ophelia 16 headed?


The National Hurricane Center released the newest forces for Tropical Storm Ophelia at 11:00am EST on September 22. Throughout this evening, tropical storm conditions are expected to impact parts of the southeastern and mid-Atlantic coast of the United States.

Swells generated by this storm system will affect the east coast throughout the weekend. Moreover, Tropical Storm Warnings have been put into place for portions of eastern North Carolina, as well as southeastern Virginia.  

Other impacts to Vision of the Seas


The forecasted weather conditions resulted in a cancellation of an entire cruise, rather than an adjusted itinerary as was the case for many cruises during Hurricane Lee.

In fact, Vision of the Seas was one of the ships impacted. Rather than depart Baltimore on September 14th, guests boarded the ship and set sail the following afternoon on September 15th. 

The September 9th sailing was modified, too. The ship returned to Baltimore one day earlier than scheduled. Moreover, rather than sail to Bermuda, guests cruised to Perfect Day at CocoCay and Nassau

Hurricane Lee impacting cruise ship itineraries. Here are the changes so far

09 Sep 2023

Lee is a major hurricane and a storm of its magnitude results in cruise ship itinerary changes.

Hurricane as seen from space

The tropical storm went from a category 1 to a category 5 before falling back to a category 3 on Friday night.  After quickly reaching category 5 intensity 36 hours ago, Hurricane Lee has been struggling against wind shear.

Nonetheless, Lee is currently a Category 3 hurricane and larger than it was a few days ago. Lee's hurricane-force winds extend up to 90 miles from its center, with tropical storm-force winds extending for some 205 miles. 

As of early Tuesday afternoon, and it's expected to turn more northward by the middle of this week , with a potential impact to the U.S. Northeast and Atlantic Canada.

Odyssey of the Seas at sea

Lee is already impacting some cruise ship itineraries, with Royal Caribbean announcing course changes.

Royal Caribbean made these changes to ensure an enjoyable and safe experience, "To ensure we have a safe and smooth journey, and to stay well away from Hurricane Lee's path, we've adjusted our itinerary," said the email sent to booked passengers. 

Here's the list of cruise ship changes so far.

Last updated: September 13, 2023

Jewel of the Seas - September 14, 2023 sailing

Jewel of the Seas

Royal Caribbean informed guests booked on Jewel of the Seas that the ship will overnight in Manhattan, New York instead of visiting Halifax, Nova Scotia.

After that, the ship will proceed to Greenland and resume its normal itinerary.

Vision of the Seas - September 14, 2023 sailing

Vision of the Seas sailing away

Vision of the Seas will remain in Baltimore on the 14th and then depart on the afternoon of September 15th.

Guests will need to be onboard the ship on the 14th.

Vision of the Seas - September 9, 2023 sailing

New: Vision of the Seas will return to Baltimore one day earlier, on September 13, with passengers staying aboard until their scheduled disembarkation date of September 14.  

Vision of the Seas is sailing from Baltimore and will depart as scheduled.

Instead of going to Bermuda, Vision will go to Perfect Day at CocoCay on Day 3 and Nassau, Bahamas on Day 4.

Liberty of the Seas - September 7, 2023 sailing

Liberty of the Seas will skip a scheduled visit to New Brunswick, Canada and instead head back to Cape Liberty for an overnight stay before the cruise ends.

Liberty will depart Halifax, Nova Scotia at 3pm on September 13 and head back to Cape Liberty, where the ship should arrive around 11pm on September 14.  She will remain in Cape Liberty until September 16th.

The ship's shops and casinos will remain closed while the ship is in Cape Liberty.

Guests on Liberty will receive compensation because of the skipped port and returning to the ship's homeport earlier than expected.

  • Inside & Oceanview rooms: $75
  • Balcony staterooms: $100
  • Suites: $200
  • $25 for each third and fourth guest

Adventure of the Seas - September 9, 2023 sailing

Adventure of the Seas in Cococay

Royal Caribbean plans for Adventure of the Seas to depart Fort Lauderdale on Saturday as planned.

The ship will now visit Roatan, Honduras on Day 3 and Cozumel, Mexico on Day 4.

Wonder of the Seas - September 10, 2023 sailing

Wonder of the Seas in St Thomas

Royal Caribbean changed Wonder of the Seas to go from an Eastern Caribbean itinerary to the Western Caribbean.

The ship was scheduled to visit Perfect Day at CocoCay, St. Thomas, and St. Maarten.

Instead, the world's largest cruise ship will visit CocoCay on September 11; Cozumel, Mexico on September 13; and Roatán, Honduras on September 14. 

Harmony of the Seas - September 9, 2023 sailing

Harmony of the Seas

Harmony of the Seas is also swapping itineraries.

The September 9th sailing is now going to Roatán, Honduras; Cozumel, Mexico; and Perfect Day at CocoCay. 

Monitoring the hurricane

Craig Setzer at work

Royal Caribbean employs its own full-time meteorologist to help track the path of the storm.

Craig Setzer has been Royal Caribbean's Chief Meteorologist since August and is involved with the National Hurricane Center, teaching at World Meteorological Organization workshops, and presenting at American Meteorological Society conferences around the country.

Guests on ships with revised itineraries were informed by Aurora Yera-Rodriguez, the Assistant Vice President of Guest Experience for Royal Caribbean International, how the company is making these changes: "Along with our Chief Meteorologist and nautical experts, we’re closely monitoring the development of Hurricane Lee and any potential impacts to our itineraries."

The path of Lee

Hurricane Lee forecast

Most weather experts are calling for Lee to make a turn to the north, but it's unclear when that may occur.

Hurricane Lee is about 440 miles east of the northern Leeward Islands with maximum sustained winds of 115 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The hurricane is moving west, northwest at 13 mph, and is forecast to pass to the north of the northern Leeward Islands, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico over the weekend and into early next week.

According to Mr. Setzer, the uncertainty occurs when & where the turn to the north takes place on Wednesday. A sooner turn, a more likely recurve (out to sea), a later turn/faster motion before the turn, a less likely recurve (out to sea).

Lee prediction

"I cannot stress this point enough. Until that turn takes place, and we observe where it happens, we will not know exactly who in the US, Canada, Bermuda will be impacted, or if impacted at all," he posted in a tweet on Friday.

He was also quite blunt about providing any kind of accurate predictions, "With that in mind, there is no need to ask me about your specific area and its threat, because I have no idea, nor does anyone else."

"Near-normal" hurricane season predicted for 2023: What that means for cruise ships

05 Jun 2023

Tropical Storm Arlene formed in the Gulf of Mexico last week right at the start of the Atlantic hurricane season, which is always a concern for cruise ship passengers.

Hurricane satellite

The Atlantic hurricane season runs between June 1 and November 30, and it's a time of year when tropical storms could impact cruise itineraries. 

While there is potential for a hurricane to affect cruise plans, I wouldn't go as far as to say you should avoid cruises for five months of the year either.

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

Experts predict "near normal" 2023 hurricane season

2023 hurricane season outlook

For what it's worth, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) published their outlook for the 2023 hurricane season.

According to the agency, a 40% chance of a near-normal season, a 30% chance of an above-normal season and a 30% chance of a below-normal season.

The agency thinks there will be between 12 and 17 named storms, with 5-9 of them becoming hurricanes.  They expect between 1 and 4 will be major hurricanes.

NOAA has a 70% confidence in these ranges.

Ocean water

The reason why it's expected to be less active than recent years are related to the El Nino effect that suppress storm development:

  • An above-normal West African monsoon.
  • El Niño.
  • Favorable conditions local to the tropical Atlantic Basin.
  • Warmer-than-normal sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea.

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.

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. 

However, if a tropical storm does end up coming around the same time as your cruise, 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.

Should you cruise during hurricane season?

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.

Cruising in hurricane season: What you need to know

11 May 2023

You might think about avoiding booking a cruise during hurricane season, but the lower prices and demand might have you reconsidering.

Hurricane as seen from space

Going on a cruise during hurricane season can often be a topic of debate. The lower fares mean that you might be able to take your dream vacation for less; however, you risk your voyage being impacted by unfavorable weather. So, is going on a cruise during hurricane season a good idea?

In the past, storms have caused some itineraries to be modified or canceled altogether. That being said, the majority of cruises are able to successfully depart without any issues. 

Here is everything you need to know about taking a cruise during hurricane season and predictions for the 2023 season. 

When is hurricane season? 

Hurricane aerial view

The Atlantic hurricane season, which includes the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean Sea, runs from June 1 through November 30, but the season's peak is primarily between August and October.

And while tropical storms are notoriously unpredictable, there are usually around a dozen or so storms in a given year, with some being stronger and weaker than others. 

The Pacific's season is a little bit different, beginning on May 15 and ending on November 30. 

According to the National Hurricane Center, an average Atlantic hurricane season will produce 14 named storms, 7 hurricanes, and 3 major hurricanes. 

A major hurricane is defined as a Category 3, 4, or 5 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, meaning that the cyclone reaches a maximum sustained winds of 111 mph (96 knots) or higher. 

"Very active" hurricane season prediction for 2024


On Thursday, April 4 the Colorado State University Tropical Meteorology Project released their first forecasts for the 2024 Atlantic hurricane season. 

They predict that this season will be "very active" with a total of 23 named storms, 5 of which are projected to be major hurricanes. 

The project team also expects 115 storm days, compared to the average of 69.4 days from 1991-2020.  


Colorado State University predicts that the probability of at least one major hurricane making landfall along the entire United States coastline is 62% during the 2024 Atlantic hurricane system, increasing from the 43% average from 1880 to 2020. 

The increase in activity is due to hurricane-favorite conditions, such as the transition from El Niño to La Nińa and the record-warn sea surface temperatures in the eastern and central Atlantic. 

RelatedSafe at sea: what it’s like on a cruise ship when there’s a hurricane

Will a hurricane affect my cruise?

Storm near beach

Royal Caribbean's top priority is the safety of the guests, crew, and ship, and they 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.

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

If you are scheduled to visit the Eastern Caribbean but a storm arises, Royal Caribbean may drop a port of call or completely switch your itinerary, turning your Eastern cruise into a Western Caribbean one. 


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 and/or disembark. 

Canceling a cruise, though, 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 subsequently shorten the next sailing, than outright cancel any given sailing.

If you decide not to go on the cruise at the last minute, you will not receive any compensation from the cruise line. Unless it is flat-out canceled by Royal Caribbean, the ship is still going to depart, and they will deliver a cruise vacation to all passengers, regardless of whether or not the itinerary stays the same. 

Do cruise lines provide any compensation if a sailing is impacted by a storm?


As mentioned, Royal Caribbean will do everything that they can to guarantee a safe voyage, even if it means that the port order is swapped or changed altogether. So long as the embarkation port is not closed, your cruise will almost certainly sail. 

Per the cruise contract that you agreed to when you booked the cruise, no compensation is required to be given if your itinerary changes. That means that if your cruise changes from an Eastern Caribbean cruise to a Western one, you will not be compensated for the change. 

If, however, they have to make the difficult decision to completely cancel the cruise, you will be issued a full refund. It must be Royal Caribbean's decision, though. If you elect not to sail at the last minute, you will lose the money that you paid for the vacation. 

Lower prices

Cruise fares tend to drop significantly in the fall. Not only is this due to the fact that the peak travel season has ended, but it is also to account for the uncertainty that arises when cruising during hurricane season. 


A 4-night Eastern Caribbean cruise onboard Independence of the Seas, for instance, starts at $559 per person for an interior room during July 2024. The same itinerary drops to $300 per person in September. 

In the days leading up to the cruise, you will inevitably keep a closer eye on the news to see if there are any storm developments, which may lead to some pre-cruise anxiety. In the summer, it is unlikely that you will have these worries, even though June and July still technically fall within hurricane season. 

RelatedWhat is the cheapest month to go on a cruise?

Make sure that you buy travel insurance

Dusk on deck

Purchasing travel insurance is recommended regardless of when your cruise is; however, it is a no-brainer when it comes to cruising during hurricane season. 

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

You may also want to consider a "Cancel For Any Reason" policy, as most travel insurance policies only kick in if your vacation is interrupted -- think if Royal Caribbean cancels the cruise or an airline cancels your flight. A hurricane forming 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. Note, though, that these policies tend to be more expensive! 

Finally, make sure that you purchase the travel insurance as soon as possible, as to file any claims under a travel insurance policy, you have to have bought the policy before the storm was formed and named. If you purchase the policy afterward, you will not be entitled to any compensation. 

RelatedShould you buy annual travel insurance plans?

Importance of flying in before the cruise

Airplane on the ground

You should always fly in at least one day prior to your ship's departure. During hurricane season, however, you may opt to fly in even earlier, just to make sure that you are in the vicinity of the ship if there happen to be any disruptions to air traffic due to a storm. 

Even if, for instance, you are flying from the Midwest to Florida, a hurricane in the Western Caribbean can impact flight schedules across the United States. If you wait until the day of, you may find yourself missing the ship! 

Read more: The costly cruising mistake newbies make planning their first cruise

Come prepared with medication to curb any motion sickness symptoms 


Cruise ships will do their best to avoid the path of a hurricane and chart a course with optimal sea conditions. Plus, modern cruise ships are built with stabilizer fins that help counteract the ocean’s movement, so there is less movement felt. 

That being said, you never know when you will hit a rough patch, whether you are sailing during a hurricane or not! 

When packing for your cruise, make sure that you buy some motion sickness medication, like Bonine or Dramamine. While medication will be available on the ship, having it on hand is best. 

Related: How to avoid getting seasick on a cruise

Subtropical storm Nicole disrupts Royal Caribbean cruise itineraries. Here are the changes so far

07 Nov 2022

Hurricane season isn't over yet, and the proof of that is in the late-season subtropical storm Nicole.

While not a hurricane yet (and possibly never a true hurricane), Royal Caribbean has begun re-routing a number of ships to avoid the path of the storm.  

Guests with sailings this week have been notified on a series of changes.

"We're very sorry for the last-minute change caused by the weather. The decision to modify our itinerary is not one taken lightly, and we explored all options before taking this measure," a letter distributed to guests on Liberty of the Seas said.

"However, as always, your safety comes first."

"Please know, being onboard a ship is one of the safest places to be because we are faster and can move out of the way of any inclement weather.

Read moreSafe at sea: what it’s like on a cruise ship when there’s a hurricane

Freedom of the Seas aerial at Nassau

Here are the changes due to Subtropical storm Nicole so far:

Liberty of the Seas will change her 4-night Bahamas cruise to skip all scheduled ports and instead sail to Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic.

Freedom of the Seas will change from a 4-night Bahamas cruise to head to Falmouth, Jamaica instead.

Anthem of the Seas is altering her 7-night Bahamas itinerary to instead visit Labadee for two days in a row.

Independence of the Seas will still be able to visit Nassau as scheduled, but will drop a visit to Perfect Day at CocoCay.

The November 7 sailing of Independence of the Seas will be extended by one day and will now return on November 12. As a result, the November 11 sailing of Independence of the Seas will be shortened by a day and begin on November 12.

Enchantment of the Seas is on an 8-night Southeast Coast and Perfect Day Cruise.  She was already able to visit Charleston and Port Canaveral, but will drop Nassau and CocoCay and head back north.

Read moreWhat to know about cruising during hurricane season in the Caribbean

Necessary changes

Altering the planned itinerary for cruise ships due to a tropical storm is no simple task, and a large part of the planning process falls to Royal Caribbean's in-house meteorologist.

James Van Fleet shared a video update on Monday explaining the nuances of predicting a hurricane's track, which is necessary to know where to send Royal Caribbean's fleet to avoid the path.

"This is a very odd track, friends. It looks super weird, but it all makes sense to me meteorologically how this plays out."

{"preview_thumbnail":"/sites/default/files/styles/video_embed_wysiwyg_preview/public/video_thumbnails/HqTnFijIR4Q.jpg?itok=buFrpW0B","video_url":"","settings":{"responsive":1,"width":"854","height":"480","autoplay":0},"settings_summary":["Embedded Video (Responsive)."]}

Mr. Van Fleet explained that the storm's track is the result of various fronts the storm will encounter, including a cold front that is going to, "punch it right in the face, knock it back to the south west."

"That's why such a weird track over the Bahamas, down over Florida, and then finally going north. It's because that first front literally pushes it back to the southwest. It hangs out for about 12 hours or so, and then a next front comes and grabs it as we get into Thursday and Friday and will yank it up the East Coast as we head into Saturday, Sunday and Monday."

Mr. Van Fleet sees swells between North Carolina, the Bahamas, and the east coast of Florida.

"I think the worst part of that will be on Wednesday in the middle of the week. And that's when much of the fleet is out in ports and away from Florida."

How bad seas? Mr. Van Fleet is expecting ocean swells between 21-28 feet (7 or 8 meters).

Where is Subtropical storm Nicole headed?

Tropical Storm Alex

According to the National Hurricane Center, the storm is located about 495 miles east of the northwestern Bahamas.

Nicole has maximum sustained winds of 45 mph and a minimum central pressure of 1002 mb.

According to the National Hurricane Center, a subtropical storm is a cyclone where maximum sustained surface wind speed is 39 mph or more.

Meteorologists expect Nicole will gradually strengthen over the next few days and be near or at hurricane intensity by Wednesday as it approaches Florida.

Safe at sea: what it’s like on a cruise ship when there’s a hurricane

30 Sep 2022

Going on a cruise ship during hurricane season means there's a chance a storm could impact your vacation, and when it does, there's all sorts of possibilities.

Sea day ocean view on Allure of the Seas

Sailing on Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas this week, I found myself unexpectedly dodging Hurricane Ian as our ship got out of Florida right before the storm was projected to hit, and safely away during the worst of the impact.

Being on a cruise ship while there's a hurricane active near home brings an assortment of emotions, and it can lead to all kinds of scenarios you never imagined when you booked the cruise, or even in the weeks leading up to the sailing.

What's it like to be on a cruise during a hurricane, and what sort of issues could you face if a storm ends up in the way of your ship?

A lot of unknowns

Oasis of the Seas in Port Canaveral

First and foremost, you can expect more questions than answers in the days before a cruise when there's a hurricane.

Once forecasters saw a hurricane was going to form, they produced an early track that seemed to put the storm in the way of our cruise.

We were booked on a 6-night Western Caribbean cruise out of Fort Lauderdale, and the storm would be blocking our way in one way or another.

As anyone that deals with hurricanes a lot will tell you, the forecasts for tropical storms are quite variable and prone to changes that greatly benefit or penalize your situation. One day it might look like your ship will be clear of any issues, and the next, it looks like you're stuck.

Unfortunately, no one knows the answers of what exactly will happen when you're many days before the storm is set to hit.  Beyond a 48 or 72 hour window, tropical storm predictions can vary considerably with many possibilities.  With Hurricane Ian, the models were rarely in agreement, and most of the time there were wide arcs of possibilities.  This leaves vacationers unsure what to do.

Hurricane aerial view

In the final few days before the cruise, my wife and I had a few moments of trying to decide if our vacation was still on:

  • Could we safely make it to our embarkation port? 
  • Where would our ship go?
  • Would we be better off staying home to manage our house and mitigate damage?
  • Would getting home be impacted?

In our case, when we drove down to Fort Lauderdale from Orlando, the storm was only predicted to be a category 2 and headed for the Florida Panhandle. As it turned out, it would be a category 4 and hit around Fort Myers.

Ian spaghetti models

Essentially, you can't expect every question you might have to be answered and you may have a sense of "que sera sera" as it pertains to going on the cruise. We made our decision to cruise based on the best information we had at the time we were to depart, and would trust in the cruise line to provide information and changes as needed.

You could have a different itinerary

Cozumel coast with restaurants and bars

The most common scenario when there is a hurricane is for the cruise line to change your itinerary to avoid the storm.

In our case, Allure of the Seas dropped a visit to Roatan so we could instead sail the long way around Cuba and circumnavigate the island as a way of avoiding Hurricane Ian, while still making out way south.

Allure ended up safely behind Hurricane Ian, slowly moving west as the storm cleared out of the Caribbean and into the Gulf of Mexico.

Two ships docked in Cozumel

While skipping Roatan is not ideal, it's something you have to assume could happen with any cruise on any sailing. Itinerary changes are not uncommon, regardless of if it's hurricane season or not.

There were definitely some guests upset we would not be able to visit Roatan, and that's to be expected because no one wants to be disappointed.  In speaking with crew members, a few shared anecdotally some guests actually question why the ship doesn't simply sail into the storm to make the scheduled port on time.

Liberty of the Seas had a few itinerary changes.  At first, they were flip-flopping her schedule to bypass Mexico and go to Grand Cayman.  When Grand Cayman closed, they switched it up again and moved her to Mexico.

Don't expect your cruise to be cancelled

First time cruisers will often post on Facebook to ask if their cruise will be cancelled, and it's clear that it's very unlikely a cruise will be totally cancelled.

Sailings can be extended or shortened, but Royal Caribbean very rarely cancels an entire sailing.

That isn't to say they've never done it, but time and time again, we see ships getting re-routed and extended instead.

Ship sailing

Mariner of the Seas went from a 5-night cruise to a 7-night cruise.  Independence of the Seas also got an additional day.  In both cases, the issue was Port Canaveral closed and that prevented the ship from getting back into port.

If your cruise is extended or shortened, expect extra onboard credit and any unlimited packages purchased to be honored for the extra days. This includes drink packages, dining packages, internet plans and more.

What it's like if your cruise is extended because of a hurricane?

Disney Wish

While my cruise only had a change in itinerary, other cruise ships had to remain out at sea longer because of the closure in Port Canaveral.

Jodi Grundig is a writer for our sister site Cruise.Blog (and she has her own blog at Family Travel Magazine) was on the Disney Wish when the sailing had to be extended by a couple days.  It was supposed to be a 4-night cruise, but at the time of writing will end up being 6-nights.

"There were cheers onboard, so most people seemed to be pretty excited for two extra day," she said of the reaction after the cruise was to be extended. "A few people were upset because of commitments at home."

Disney cruise terminal in Port Canaveral

For Ms. Grundig, safety was the most important thing, "It wasn't unexpected so I was just glad to be safe after the initial panic of moving my flight, which was fairly easy."

As you might imagine, having a cruise extended means logistical changes to get home.  While some people can simply drive home, a lot of passengers fly back.

"They offered phones for people who needed to make calls and they provided free internet for people to make changes to flights/arrangements."

"I was luckily able to switch my Friday flight to Sunday. Because it's over a weekend, I won't really miss anything at home thankfully."

How bad are the sea conditions when there's a hurricane?

Odyssey of the Seas

While I think most people understand cruise ships don't sail into hurricanes, the most common question I've received during my cruise is something along the lines of, "how bad are the waves?".

Not only do cruise ships avoid the path of a hurricane, they will chart a course with the optimal sea conditions to avoid the worst of any rough seas.

Hurricane or not, there can be "motion in the ocean", so no cruise is immune from waves. However, the reality is the cruise has been quite smooth sailing in terms of wave height.

Sea day view

When a ship changes itinerary, they have the opportunity to sail waters far away from the storm.  In addition, ships can sail closer to land to find protected waterways that can lessen the effect of the seas.

During my cruise, our ship went around Cuba, and by the time we made our way westward again, the ship stayed far enough away from Hurricane Ian to keep everything quite calm. We rarely felt much motion, and the sea conditions ended up being extremely calm.

In the case of the Disney Wish, that ship went out to sea further east in The Bahamas to avoid even the furthest aspects of the storm.

Water slides on Adventure of the Seas

Typically, a hurricane's forward speed averages around 15-20 mph. Hurricane Ian was moving at less than 10 miles per hour.

Cruise ships can sail faster than hurricanes can move, which gives them the ability to out run the changing path of any storm.

Royal Caribbean's X Factor: James Van Fleet

James Van Fleet with beard

Unlike every other cruise line, Royal Caribbean has its own Chief Meteorologist who not only provides each ship and the cruise line important guidance on the weather, but he also shares insight with guests.

Mr. Van Fleet has over 20 years of experience as a meteorologist in television, covering an array of locations from Texas to Florida. 

Mr. Van Fleet posts daily video updates, explaining what the latest forecasts indicate, and he shares what he thinks is possible.  He also talks about various ships, and demonstrates where the ship is located, what to expect, and most importantly, how they are keeping safely away from the hurricane.

Weather forecast

In the days before the cruise, my mind was put at ease that we'd be able to sail thanks to his updates. During the cruise, we got information about what the storm was doing and how our ship was dealing with track changes.

At the height of the hurricane imminent threat to Florida, he took to answering questions from passengers both on video and on social media.

James Van Fleet

Without sounding pretentious, I feel bad for people on other cruise lines who don't have access to this kind of information because it must be mentally anguishing to not have the sort of information Mr. Van Fleet provides.

While he may not know more than anyone else as to what the storm will do, his many years of experience as a meteorologist in Florida gives him insight into the nuances of tropical storms that can put many minds at ease.

Harmony of the Seas changes itinerary to avoid Tropical Storm Fiona

16 Sep 2022

The Atlantic hurricane season has been quiet thus far, but it's claimed an itinerary change for at least one cruise ship.

Harmony of the Seas front part

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

Guests booked on Harmony of the Seas have been advised they will change from an Eastern Caribbean itinerary to a Western Caribbean itinerary.

In an email to guests, Royal Caribbean said the change was made, "to maintain a safe and comfortable journey."

Instead of sailing to St. Thomas and St. Maarten, Harmony of the Seas will go to Costa Maya and Cozumel, Mexico.

This change affects the September 18, 2022 sailing of Harmony of the Seas only.

The ship will still visit Perfect Day at CocoCay as scheduled.

Hurricane aerial view

Tropical Storm Fiona is now very near the Leeward Islands and is forecasted to move westward across the U.S. and British Virgin Islands on Saturday and Puerto Rico late Saturday and Saturday night.

The National Hurricane Center said Tropical Storm Fiona's center is approaching Guadeloupe and tropical storm conditions (winds 39 mph or higher), heavy rain and strong waves are expected in the Leeward Islands.

Fiona is then forecasted to strengthen after moving across Hispaniola early next week and could impact the Turks and Caicos islands as well as southeastern Bahamas.

Cruiser reaction

Whenever cruise lines need to change an itinerary due to weather, there's plenty of thoughts on the impact from the guest perspective. 

Thomas Beaulieu wrote on Facebook, "That's still a great itinerary. You will get more than your money's worth if you bought the beverage package. 5 out 7 days you get full use of the package all day and night! Cheers."

Chris Blahut, wrote "Can’t do anything about the weather. Better to be safe than sorry."

Ragene Warner Pinson was disappointed, but understood the need for the change, "What a bummer. I understand why but that’s still a bummer. St Thomas and Saint Martin are so much better than the Mexico ports and my personal opinion."

Quiet hurricane season so far

Balcony smooth seas

At the risk of jinxing our collective luck, so far hurricanes have not been a major factor so far in 2022 in the Atlantic.

The Atlantic hurricane season runs between June and November, and there's been only three named storms before September. 

There were no named storms in the Atlantic during August, the first time that had happened since 1997.

James Van Fleet predicting weather

For what it's worth, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued an updated forecast in early August for the rest of the season, which still called for an above-normal level of activity.

NOAA thinks there will be 14 to 20 named storms, with six to 10 turning into hurricanes. Three to five of those could strengthen into major hurricanes — Category 3 or stronger — with winds of at least 111 m.p.h.

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

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

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.

Subscribe to Hurricane