Norwegian Cruise Line, Carnival Cruise Line, Oceania, and Royal Caribbean are rerouting ships to avoid the hurricane.
Just days before Hurricane Florence began bearing down on the east coast, many cruise lines had difficult decisions to make. With multiple cruise ships scheduled to head into the storm’s path, cruise lines like Norwegian Cruise Line, Carnival Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, and Oceania opted to shift itineraries out of harm’s way. However, this meant that some passengers - like Norwegian Escape’s 4,000 cruisers - were alerted after boarding that their itinerary had changed.
Cruise lines opt for safety over satisfaction
Many ships are making minor changes, like substituting one Caribbean port for another. Norwegian Escape, Royal Caribbean’s Grandeur of the Seas, and Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Pride all moved their Bermuda calls to ports in the Bahamas and Florida. Other ships, like Carnival Horizon and Oceania’s Insignia, are skipping stops in ports that may be too close to the hurricane danger zone, or simply postponing days in port.
However, for some ships, the risk was simply too great. Norwegian Dawn, for example, canceled its Bermuda itinerary entirely and headed north to Canada and New England - a move that came after passengers were on board. With a route that now includes impromptu stops in Nova Scotia and Maine rather than Bermuda’s Kings Wharf, passengers packing for sunnier climes are bound to be disappointed. However, when it comes to sacrificing customer satisfaction for passenger safety, cruise lines seem willing to make last-minute changes.
Refunds and cruise credits in the wake of Hurricane Florence
Cruise lines are being forced to scramble to meet customer needs after making drastic itinerary changes. After announcing that a cruise departing Sunday would be shortened by 3 days, Royal Caribbean offered passengers refundable onboard credit and waived cancellation fees, offering credit toward future cruises. Carnival Cruise Line is offering passengers on upcoming cruises text alerts for future changes by opting in on their website. For the 15,000 or so passengers currently being rerouted, however, these consolations may come too late.
It’s important to remember, of course, that cruise lines and cruise ships are responsible for the safety and wellbeing of their passengers. As the death toll for Hurricane Florence continues to rise, passengers dealing with unexpected changes should try to stay patient and make the most out of their vacation.