Updated: Get the latest updates and itinerary changes following Hurricane Irma and Maria.
While the impact of Hurricane Irma will have lasting effects in Florida and the Caribbean, the cruise lines resumed cruising this past week. Although, it will be quite some time until things are back to normal in some popular cruise ports. Since Irma was the central focus of all cruise news this week, we are taking a look at the future of cruising after Hurricane Irma in this special cruise news edition.
The Future of Cruising After Hurricane Irma
Ports of Call Changes
The current ports of call that are closed to cruise travel include Tortola and British Virgin Islands, St. Thomas, St. Maarten, and Key West. The biggest impact for cruisers going forward will be changed itineraries. It is unclear how long it will take for these popular cruise ports to reopen again, but cruise lines are betting on some of these locations to be off limits for months.
For instance, Norwegian Cruise Line announced last week that its ships sailing from Florida will be completing Western Caribbean itineraries only for at least the next two months while they “assess impacts to the ports we visit in the Eastern Caribbean”.
Norwegian Escape Will Be Sailing Western Caribbean Itineraries for Now
It looks like Carnival Cruise Line will be altering things on a week by week basis. So far, all cruises departing this week will be sailing 4-8 day cruises with stops in ports like Cozumel and Nassau, Bahamas. Carnival ships impacted by these changes include the Carnival Conquest, Carnival Glory, Carnival Paradise, Carnival Sensation, Carnival Magic, Carnival Breeze, Carnival Fascination, and Carnival Victory. Similar to other cruise lines, it is expected that Carnival Cruise Line will be working with port officials to determine when they can resume travels to the Eastern Caribbean islands affected by the storm.
Royal Caribbean has also reported that they will be “working on alternative ports” for itineraries that include stops in St. Thomas, St. Maarten, and Key West. The line will be notifying guests on affected cruises directly to update them on the new ports of call. For now, the cruise line has indicated they will be adjusting itineraries through October. Ships currently affected include Enchantment of the Seas, Empress of the Seas, Adventure of the Seas, Harmony of the Seas, Allure of the Seas, and Oasis of the Seas. Stops in St. Kitts, St. Croix, the line’s private island of Labadee, Freeport, and Nassau have been added to take the place of these affected ports. As more information is shared, we will be sure to update our fellow cruise addicts on the line’s plans moving forward.
Some Adventure of the Seas Cruises Cruises Have Been Altered
Likewise, Disney Cruise Line has altered two upcoming Eastern Caribbean sailings (September 23rd and October 7th) on Disney Fantasy, Celebrity Cruises has altered upcoming sailings on the Celebrity Equinox, and MSC Cruises has reported that St. Maarten will be replaced with Antigua on Eastern Caribbean sailings for the near future. Holland America Line and Princess Cruises will resume sailings in the Caribbean beginning in October with no official changes made to itineraries yet. Only time will tell when the affected ports will be open to cruise traffic again.
Although other popular Caribbean ports of call may have been impacted by Hurricane Irma, including San Juan and Cuba, these ports are open and accepting cruise traffic. Grand Turk appears to be the only other cruise port that is “not quite ready” to welcome cruisers. All cruise lines have also indicated that no private islands were significantly impacted by the storm and are fully functioning at this time.
Immediately following the storm, both Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line were able to deliver much needed supplies to the areas most affected by the storm. Majesty of the Seas, Adventure of the Seas, and Norwegian Sky were among the ships to participate in these humanitarian efforts.
Majesty of the Seas Has Been Aiding the Relief Efforts
All the cruise lines are pitching in to help support the islands most devastated by the Hurricane. Carnival Cruise Line announced this week that they will be providing ongoing support by making over 35 deliveries to several islands, including St. Maarten, St. Thomas, Grand Turk, and Key West. The relief work is ongoing. It is possible that future cruises could include quick stops at these islands to deliver more aid. Royal Caribbean has also indicated that future cruises on Empress of the Seas will be stopping to provide supplies, but not allowing guests to disembark.
In addition, cruise lines are supporting relief efforts by encouraging cruiser donations. Parent company Royal Caribbean Cruise Line has committed to matching up to $1 million dollars of donations made through WorldVision by fellow cruisers. Carnival Corporation has also set up a donation site to assist in hurricane relief efforts for both Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma.
Long Term Changes to Cruising
It could take months, and in the case of St. Maarten even longer, until the impacted cruise ports will be back up to normal operations. Even once they are back up and running, it will be interesting to see if the storm will impact cruise lines’ likelihood to sail to the islands. Even if the ports open, many vendors and local tour operators might still not be functioning. It is also possible that the new ports visited by the cruise ships will siphon some of the traffic away from the more popular islands, which is what St. Croix hopes.
St. Kitts Will Be Receiving More Ships Due to Itinerary Changes
Like all cruise trends, we will be monitoring these developments closely, and we will report the latest updates as soon as possible. Of course, we count on other cruise fans to share their experiences and news with us as well. So, feel free to share your updates and news with us on social media, or email us directly here at [email protected].
Has Hurricane Irma impacted your cruise plans? Do you think the storm will have a long lasting effect on Caribbean cruises? Drop us an anchor below to share your thoughts on how Hurricane Irma will alter the future of cruising.