As the remains of hurricane Earl rattled across the US East Coast at the end of last week, it got be thinking about bad weather, and how it can impact the world of cruising. When you are on a land-based holiday it’s bad enough when Mother Nature kicks up her heels. I once spent a much needed week on the NSW Central Coast, only to encounter torrential rain the entire time, and have all my planned outdoor activities cancelled! On a cruise, however, bad weather can be more than inconvenient – it can be mighty uncomfortable.
Weather can be fickle anywhere, and at any time of year, but there are few things to bear in mind when choosing where to cruise and when. The Caribbean is a good example. Cruise ships operate here year-round for good reason; if one part of the world deserved to be described as one blessed with an endless summer, this is it. But the hurricane season officially runs between June 1 and November 30, which means disruption from a storm can happen. In an average year between eight and 11 tropical storms occur, of which five-to-seven may develop into full-blown hurricanes.
Cruise lines operating here are well used to the potential for disruption, however, and the good news is that, across the board, they aim to avoid storms rather than confront them. At worst you may have a couple of rough days at sea, or miss a port of call as the ship changes course. If you have a weak stomach, however, or you don’t want to risk a change of course mid-cruise, consider cruising there another time.
The same goes with other parts of the world, and not just because of the risk of hurricanes, cyclones or typhoons. Although a number of cruise ships operate year round in the Mediterranean, for example, traditionally “hot” destinations such as Italy, Croatia and Greece can get quite nippy in the winter – and make your swimmers largely redundant. The rule of thumb when it comes to weather and cruising is choose your destination carefully, and when you travel to some places go prepared for changes. Just as forecasters get it wrong, no cruise line can guarantee good weather. Happy sailing!