How Will Hurricanes Affect Your Vacation?

It’s definitely hurricane season, and so far it has been an active one.  If you’re looking for a vacation during the month of September, you may notice that the prices of Caribbean resorts and cruises will drop dramatically.  These prices tempt travelers to book, even though September is the peak of hurricane season.  What happens if you find that you’re vacationing right in the path of a potential hurricane?  If you plan ahead, you will find that you can save money AND travel during the peak of the season.

Be smart about the places you choose to travel.  Several Caribbean islands, specifically,  St. Lucia, Aruba, Curacao, Trinidad, and Tobago lie outside the hurricane belt and haven’t been affected by hurricanes for many decades.  Choose one of these areas and you will still benefit from low prices, and most likely will not have to worry about storms.

Hurricanes can also affect the way you choose to travel during the season.  If you have a scheduled flight into an area where a hurricane is expected, make sure that you check regularly for updates from your airline.  If flights are cancelled or disrupted, most airlines will allow you to re-book at a later date.  Be aware that one of the risks of booking a non-refundable ticket is that you will not receive a refund for weather, nor will you be allowed to change your ticket to a different destination.  The airlines will expect you to reschedule your trip for a later date, and in most cases, they will give you a small credit on your future trip.  If you are on an island when a hurricane or storm hits, you and all the other tourists will be trying to get off the island.  If you are delayed leaving, the airline will not reimburse you for extra hotel nights, meals, etc.

If you travel by cruise ship, you have the benefit of being able to move out of a storm’s path.  Canceled cruises are very rare.  The only time a cruise will be cancelled is when the storm is aiming for the ship’s port of embarkation.  Even then, it is more likely that the departure will be delayed by a day or two.  Because cruise ships can simply change course and itineraries to avoid the hurricane, traveling by cruise ship is considered pretty safe.  However, realize that there is a chance that your itinerary can change.  This would not be the time to plan a destination wedding or some other big occasion on the island of your dreams.  And the cruise lines will not compensate you for missed ports.  Since today’s technology can predict hurricanes and tropical storms long in advance, cruise ships can simply avoid them.  If it looks like a hurricane will impact your cruise vacation, wait for the cruise line to announce its plans.  If you call and cancel, you won’t receive a refund.  Even though you can avoid the path, travelers should know that it is not always smooth sailing during hurricane season.  Storms tend to create rough seas, so if you have a tendency for motion sickness, this may not be the best time for you to travel.

What if you’re not cruising, but are on a land based vacation on a tropical island?  Unlike a cruise vacation, a tropical storm or hurricane will have a major impact on your vacation if you’re in the eye of the storm.  Because of traveler concerns during this season, most hotels and resorts offer a hurricane guarantee.  Make sure you ask before you book.  You should make sure that your vacation resort will give you future travel credit for the number of days that your vacation was impacted.  Unfortunately, you won’t receive a full refund or a refund on your transportation and you usually have to re-visit within one year of your original dates.

Of course, no matter how you travel or where you travel, you should strongly consider purchasing insurance for a vacation during hurricane season.  It will save you a lot of money if your vacation is interrupted due to weather.  Make sure that you purchase a policy that offers coverage in the event of natural disasters that would cause you to miss the ship.  You should also know that in order to be compensated, the policy must have been purchased prior to the development of the storm.

So is it worth the risk to travel during hurricane season?  Of course, everyone has to make their own decision, but in reality there is a very small chance that your trip will be impacted by a hurricane.  Although there are many tropical storms, on average, there are about 6 actual hurricanes and only 1-2 of them are considered major hurricanes.  Before booking a tropical vacation during these stormy months, just ask yourself a few questions.  Will your vacation be absolutely ruined if you find yourself threatened by a hurricane or storm?  Will you be very unhappy if you are forced to end your vacation early and receive only a voucher for future travel?  Will you be extremely disappointed if you have several days of rain instead of the beautiful weather that was expected?  If you answer yes to these questions, you would probably be better off paying a little higher price and traveling from December to May so that you avoid hurricane season altogether.

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