Cruise lines do all they can to ensure the cruise you reserve is the cruise you experience. But itineraries can’t be guaranteed, and sometimes changes are necessary, usually to protect the safety of passengers.
Severe weather is often the main reason for an itinerary change. Rough
seas can slow a ship down enough that it can’t reach port on time. Bad weather
can also make it too dangerous for the ship to dock or to send passengers to
shore in tender boats. Other possible reasons for itinerary changes include civil
unrest, damage from a natural disaster, or an outbreak of illness on the ship or
in port. Remember, cruise lines have the right to change an itinerary whenever
the captain or the cruise line thinks it’s necessary.
When an itinerary has to be changed in advance, the cruise line will
notify you so you can decide whether to change your cruise plans. But, as in
the case of sudden severe weather, some changes can’t be made until the day of
a scheduled port call. When possible, the captain will arrange for a substitute
port. If that’s not possible, you’ll have an extra day at sea.
It can be disappointing to miss a port, but complaining to the crew
won’t help. Instead, enjoy some onboard activities and amenities you might not
have the opportunity to try otherwise. An extra day at sea is a great time to relax
by the pool with a good book, visit the fitness center, enter a card
tournament, audition for a talent show, catch a movie in the theater, or take a
cooking class, to name just a few possibilities. To help keep everyone
entertained, the ship may offer even more onboard activities than usual. The
spa, shops, and specialty restaurants might offer tempting discounts, too.
But, one thing you should not expect is a refund or credit to compensate
for a missed port. In extreme cases – such as when multiple port calls must be
canceled – the cruise line may offer some type of compensation, but those
decisions are made on a case-by-case basis.
While you can’t eliminate the possibility of itinerary changes, you can minimize
them by making cruise reservations outside of hurricane season. Also, look for itineraries
in which the ship docks at piers, so you won’t have to use the ship’s tenders to
reach shore. Anita, your professional travel advisor, can offer additional
advice and assistance.
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