Are you wanting to know more about cruises during hurricane season?
If you are already booked on a cruise or wondering if you should sail during hurricane season you need to know exactly what to expect.
I have sailed on a cruise during hurricane season.
This was during a Disney Panama Canal cruise in September 2014 when the Disney Wonder was impacted by the severe weather that Hurricane Odile brought to the West Coast.
The experience of sailing during a hurricane was extremely positive for me.
Throughout I felt very safe and so did my children.
The 14-night cruise was one of the best we have ever experienced.
However, it did impact certain things that I will talk about throughout this guide.
Here are some things you need to know if you are thinking of sailing on a cruise during hurricane season so that you can decide if this is the best option for you.
When Is Hurricane Season for Cruises?
The first thing that you need to know is when exactly is hurricane season.
Officially hurricane season begins on June 1 and ends on November 30 each year.
The peak of the season according to many years of research tends to be in September and October.
Is It Safe To Cruise During Hurricane Season?
Surprisingly, being out at sea is one of the safest places to be during a hurricane.
If you are on land it is often very difficult to move out of the path of a hurricane. At sea, cruise lines are very experienced in sailing away from the path of a hurricane.
All cruise lines work closely with meteorologists and are very experienced in making changes to their routes and even the itinerary if the weather requires this.
The Captain has the knowledge and skill to sail out of the path of the hurricane.
During our Disney Cruise in 2014, we sailed a long distance out to sea so that the impact of the hurricane was never an issue. I remember that we were often sailing at full speed, but that most of the time the ocean was pretty calm.
Surprisingly The Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico are likely to be calmer during summer than they are in winter. This is due to a combination of the higher pressure and humid temperatures at that time of year.
Therefore cruising in hurricane season may actually bring you calmer seas.
Never Sail Without Travel Insurance
I know none of us like thinking about the worst-case scenario but it amazes me how many people sail on a cruise without travel insurance.
Just don’t risk it.
Things happen that you don’t expect. And when they do it can be very expensive.
There are many different insurance companies that offer travel insurance.
You can buy travel insurance directly through the cruise line, or as a stand-alone policy. It may be sensible for you to buy annual travel insurance if you take multiple trips in a year.
Whichever policy you choose make sure you are aware of what is covered and the financial limits of each aspect of this coverage.
Don’t leave taking out travel insurance to the last moment. Each company has its own specific restrictions, but usually, the insurance will not be valid for a hurricane if the storm has already been named.
Be sure to check what the travel policy covers. For example, will it cover expenses if you are no longer able to travel to your cruise port? Will it cover expenses if you are delayed in getting home? These are all things that you need to check.
It Is Highly Likely Your Cruise Will Still Sail
Your safety is the cruise line’s highest priority.
However, it is very unlikely that your cruise will be canceled and not sail at all.
It is safe to cruise during hurricane season, but sometimes an itinerary change may be required.
For example in 2022 the Disney Dream and the Disney Wish had to change their itinerary due to Subtropical Storm Nicole.
When guests arrived to board the Disney Dream in Miami and the Disney Wish in Port Canaveral on Monday, November 7, 2022, they were all handed this letter detailing the changes to their cruise ports:
“As you may be aware, Subtropical Storm Nicole is currently located in the Eastern Caribbean and is forecasted to move through The Bahamas later this week. We have been closely monitoring this storm system to ensure our Guests enjoy safe and comfortable cruises.”
“It is necessary to make some changes to your sailing to make certain our ships steer clear of the storm.”
Disney Dream visited Cozumel Mexico instead of Castaway Cay.
The Disney Wish canceled port stops at Castaway Cay and Nassau. The Wish added a port stop at Cozumel.
Therefore, be prepared that your cruise will still sail during a hurricane, but your itinerary may likely be changed.
When I sailed during Hurricane Odile in September 2014 our itinerary changed significantly. We were not able to make two of our port stops which were scheduled for Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta Mexico.
As this was a Panama Canal Cruise this meant that our first port stop after leaving San Diego was Cartegena, Columbia. This meant 8 days at Sea before our first port!
Cruising During a Hurricane May Still Be Very Calm
There is every chance that even if you are sailing during a hurricane, the seas that you encounter will be calm.
You will be sailing out of the path of the hurricane. Also, surprisingly certain factors make it likely that the seas will be calm during hurricane season.
Modern cruise ships are very stable.
All cruise ships are built with stabilizers or have, like the Disney Wonder and Disney Magic, had stabilizers retrofitted.
However, you always have to be prepared that there will be movement on the ship and that you might experience sea sickness.
There are many ways to combat motion sickness on a cruise including taking medication, wearing sea bands, and using alternative remedies.
A Hurricane May Impact Your Journey to and from the Cruise Port
Whilst it is very unlikely that your cruise will be canceled, your journey to get to your cruise port and to travel back home may very well be impacted.
For example, Orlando International Airport closed from September 28 through September 30, 2022, due to Hurricane Ian.
Whilst it is safe to cruise during a hurricane it often isn’t safe to land a plane when the airport is impacted by severe weather.
And as anyone who has tried to travel during severe weather knows, this can put a huge spanner in the works of any plans you have.
This is a huge reason to always have travel insurance and to check that disruption of your journey from your home and back to home is covered.
Where Can I Cruise to Avoid Hurricane Season?
If you have decided that sailing on a cruise during hurricane season just isn’t for you, then there are still options for you.
The most obvious solution is to pick a cruise that sails outside hurricane season. Usually, hurricanes are extremely rare from December until May.
Or choose an itinerary in a place in the World that doesn’t usually experience hurricanes.
Europe and the West Coast of the US rarely experience hurricanes.
Therefore consider an Alaskan, European, or West Coast cruise.
Having said that there are always exceptions to this. And I can talk from experience having sailed during Hurricane Odile which hit the West Coast of Mexico!
However, it is highly unlikely that you will experience a hurricane in any of these areas, so you are cutting down the risk considerably if you choose to sail one of these itineraries.
Related: Disney Cruise to Europe
Alison Meacham is the founder of EverythingMouse Disney Blog. For over 15 years she has shared her love of Disney Parks, Disney Cruises and Universal Orlando. In over 30 years of Disney Travel she has spent countless months in Disney Parks and has sailed on over 45 cruises. A British native and now a United States resident she splits her time between California, Florida and the UK. And spends a serious amount of time sailing the seven seas. She helps over 200,000 people per month follow their Disney travel dreams.