Aftermath for the Cruise Lines
While it is customary that Hurricane Season brings a number of storms every year, and while the cruise lines remain continually poised to make necessary changes, as most hurricanes are tightly-knit, slow-moving storms with somewhat predictable paths, making them fairly easy to avoid or divert around in most cases. Meaning usually at most, the cruise passenger may end up with a slightly modified itinerary than expected, but one that is as safe, and relatively calm as any other typical cruise.
But Sandy has been a particular challenge for the cruise lines primarily due to its hugging the coastline course, and while churning along passed the coastal East Coast Port cities like Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, and Port Canaveral in Florida, Charleston, S.C., Baltimore, Md. and New York City. Sandy was also an unusually large storm, encompassing a path of several hundreds of miles in size, while picking up nearby storm systems which added to the severe after-effect impact.
As we all know now, the hurricane was itself only part of the story. The surge of seawater which followed the storm and floods to low lying coastal areas; carrying away sand and tearing down structures which also occurred. Another factor with Sandy is the thousands of flights that were canceled in anticipation of the storm. (check out the standing water at LGA’s jetways left) Most likely many cruise passengers missed their ships due to last minute flight cancellations which numbered more than 20,000 in all. It stands to reason that this will also create some delays in getting some of those stranded folks out as airport operations are expected to slowly return to normal beginning on Halloween Wednesday, with only some airports operating. Those located in hardest hit New Jersey, and the New York City area airports may take longer to get back to normal operations.
Unfortunately, if your cruise becomes affected by a hurricane in any way you are rather at the mercy of the cruise line. You do not have any right to cancel the cruise or demand a refund. Your only option is to have purchased “cancel for any reason” trip insurance when you book the cruise.(which in many cases can be purchased for about a forty percent increase in your policy costs). Generally, traditional trip (travel) insurance probably will not cover your hurricane canceled cruise since it falls under the “acts of God” category.
Sandy resulted in a relatively few number of Cruise Cancellations on the part of the cruise lines, and only a few Sailings which were actually delayed,(mostly by pushing the departure dates back by a day or less). However, there were a multitude of cruise ship Reroutes, and Scheduled Port Changes as a direct result of Hurricane Sandy. In many cases where sailings are cut short, the cruise lines will offer some form of compensation to cruise goers to make up for their shortened sailings.
Unlike most hurricanes that affect the cruise lines, Sandy left behind a list of Damage to both Ships, as well as private island paradises that are owned by the cruise lines.
Damage to Cruise Ships
The 4,000 Passengers aboard Disney’s newest cruise ship the “Fantasy”, were tossed about a good deal resulting in mainly damage to Interior areas including the Pool area, Gift Shops, Cafes and various other venues. The pool area also overflowed causing some water damage to those areas in and around the pools areas.
But Disney is downplaying the incident. Disney Cruise Line Spokeswoman Rebecca Peddie says in a statement that the damage involved only some “cracked windows and broken furniture that have been addressed.”
Meanwhile, a call at “Castaway Cay” which is Disney’s private island paradise by sister ship Disney “Dream” was postponed a day so that crews could clear away debris left by the storm, Peddie says. The private Bahamas island is Disney’s most popular port of call.
P & O’s 3,000 passenger ship the “Ventura” sustained a gash in her hull located near the pool deck. It has been reported by passengers onboard P&O Cruise’s Ventura, that the ship has been seriously damaged from rough weather while crossing through the Bay of Biscay in advance of Hurricane Sandy’s moving through the south Florida area. It is reported that a large crack, about 2 inches wide, has appeared on one of the upper exterior decks. Passengers from the ship are reporting that the crack runs the entire horizontal length of the deck and vertical to the deck below. Windows on the deck below have been shattered from the crack. Passengers are reportedly being sectioned off from this area near the Laguna Pool of the ship while passengers who have private balcony cabins on Deck 14 below are being ordered not to use their balconies. A P&O spokesperson has confirmed that ”repairs will be made to the aluminum deck on Ventura upon arrival its in Southampton. This has no structural strength or safety implications, and is not expected to delay its next scheduled sailing.
Damage to Private islands
Several cruise lines have their own “private islands” which they use to give passengers a day at the beach without any distractions. Almost all of the private islands are small Bahamian Cays that offer anywhere from remote sparsely tree lined beaches to quite elaborately furnished activity areas that are generally very popular with cruisers.
Hardest hit appears to be that of Princess Cruise Line’s “Princess Cays,” which is actually a private beach resort on the Bahamian island of Elute, 50 miles east of Nassau. According to PCL “Princess Cays has experienced extensive beach erosion, some downed trees and roof damage. The end of the observation pier was also lost,” according to company spokesperson Karen Candy who said that clean up will begin as soon as conditions allow. The next scheduled call there is not due to take place now, until November 11.
Norwegian Cruise Line is reporting that its “Great Stirrup Cay” sustained some minor damage to structures and landscaping, as well as beach erosion. The island, which had just completed a $30-million upgrade, has been closed down temporarily for quick repairs but the line expects it to reopen in the first week of November. Unfortunately, stops there by three Norwegian ships had to be canceled: Norwegian Jewel, Norwegian Sky and Norwegian Pearl. Fortunately, most of the improvements which were made during the recent upgrade were unaffected.
Holland America’s private island, “Half Moon Cay”, which is located about 100 miles southeast of Nassau and are often visited by ships of sister cruise line Carnival. According to HAL, the island “sustained some minor damage,” including to a few permanent structures as well as beach erosion and uprooting of some vegetation. Holland America expects to make repairs quickly with only minimal impact to normal operations.
Royal Caribbean, cancelled two stops at its private island “Coco Cay”. While no real damage is being reported by RCCL, the island was expected to be reopened to ships today.
However, while Sandy handed the cruiselines more than the typical hurricane storm system would have dealt out, this damage pales in comparison to the devistation that has been heaped upon the people of New England. Our thoughts, our prayers, and our concerns are with you now, as one who personally understands what havoc flood waters can create. We are thinking of you all! – CruisewithMike
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