The aftermath of recent hurricanes, including Hurricane Maria(the fourth named storm since Irma), has seen a string of cruise port closures in the Eastern Caribbean, including in Dominica, St Martin, St John and St Thomas (US Virgin Islands), Tortola (British Virgin Islands), St Barts and Barbuda, which are among the islands that have faced the most extensive damage.
Ports in Florida, Puerto Rico, Turks & Caicos and Dominican Republic have also closed, while the level of damage in St Kitts is reportedly low but under evaluation. That port remains open, along with others in the Eastern Caribbean, including Barbados, St Lucia, Grenada and Antigua, as well as Freeport in the Bahamas, Labadee in Haiti and Cuba.
The majority of cruise lines calling at affected ports have made changes to future itineraries, according Andy Harmer, director of the Cruise Lines International Association UK & Ireland (CLIA). “Passengers have been notified of these amendments and cruise lines are [updating passengers] and monitoring the situation on an ongoing basis,” said Harmer.
The organisation was unable to confirm whether passengers whose cruise journeys have been affected by the hurricanes are entitled to refunds, or able to rebook their cruises from of charge. The policy regarding recent crusie cancellations will differ according to the cruise line, CLIA told Telegraph Travel.
Several major cruise lines have updated their itineraries to affected ports, including late September sailings on board Adventure of the Seas, Allure of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas with Royal Caribbean, and October sailings on board Caribbean Princess and Regal Princess with Princess Cruises.
Several cruise ships with Carnival, the Caribbean’s largest cruise operator, have also been diverted to unaffected ports, following damage from Hurricane Irma, and the only ports the cruise line is currently unable to visit are St Thomas, St Maarten, Grand Turk and Key West.
“We’ll need to see what the impacts are from Maria as assessments are completed in the coming days. We will adjust itineraries as needed pending storm damage in destinations but are quite adept at rearranging itineraries and providing our guests with a great variety of attractive destinations,” the cruise line said in a statement.