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Will We Ever Get To Cruise In The Caribbean Again???

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The past three weeks have been wild and crazy, especially in the cruise industry, thanks to several hurricanes that visited the Atlantic and Caribbean. Some cruise lines had ships rescuing stranded visitors as well as doing their best to make lemonade out of real sour lemons. Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean Cruise Line received particular notice for their humanitarian efforts in helping guests escape the island dangers from the hurricanes.

We personally experienced some of that concern a couple of weeks ago when we sailed out of Galveston on the Liberty of the Seas, the week that Irma was raking the east coast of Florida. Our first night out of Galveston was a little rough as predicted by the captain; he called it the residue of Irma.....6-8 foot swells. But after that night, the seas turned smooth and we had no more motion problems. Our ports were in Cozumel, Grand Cayman, and Falmouth Jamaica, and none of them were impacted by Harvey, Irma or Maria.....thank goodness.

Not so for other places, but not as many as one might think. Of course, those that were impacted, rather devastated, will be several weeks or months in getting their act back together. The CEO of Carnival Corp., Arnold Donald specifically named San Juan, St. Thomas, Dominica, and Tortola as ports they serve that were severely damaged. Other islands that suffered severe damage, and were not mentioned because Carnival doesn't go there, were St. John, Turks and Caicos, and St. Barts. On the mainland, the port at Key West also suffered dramatic damage.

Donald did say though that there were 40-plus ports that were unaffected, including their private island and the Mexico ports. One of the encouraging points he made was that cancellations of bookings already made were running less than 1%.....which is remarkable.

The disruption though for those 3-4 weeks will surely be reflected in the financial bottom lines of the cruising business. Hurricane Irma caused the cancellation of 146 cruise sailings or altered in some way and 25 ports were impacted. Having to refund passengers already booked, offer discounts to others who were affected, not to mention the lack of bookings that would have been realized were it not for the intervention of Mother Nature will make financials the last quarter of 2017 look a little bleak.

Many of the ports anticipate that they will be open by the end of October or middle of November. Princess Cruise Line expects that St. Thomas and San Juan will be open by late December.

It was interesting to note that the private islands that some of the cruise lines visit are easily open; Disney's Castaway Cay, Holland America's Half Moon Cay, and Royal Caribbean Cruise Line's Labadee in Haiti.

One of the things most folks don't understand about cruising is that the cruise lines have clauses written into the terms of the contracts that allow them to change ports for any reason, not just hurricane and storm damage. Technically, if the cruise isn't outright canceled, the cruise line doesn't owe the passengers anything if they decide to cancel. During the current situations, the lines did allow passengers to cancel and receive future cruise credit which seemed fair, considering the circumstances.

The experienced travel counselors at The Travel Factory are in the “ready” position to help anyone plan the best vacation ever, so call us at 698-1421 or toll-free 800-760-4040. We are physically located at 4150 Southwest Drive between Rosa's and Chick-Fil-A. Lets go somewhere!!!!

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