South Florida cruise lines are re-routing ships and recharting itineraries to avoid Hurricane Matthew, making customers aware of refund policies.
Meanwhile, they continue to monitor forecasts for ships homeported in Miami and Fort Lauderdale, where cruises begin and end, often on Friday and Saturday. Current forecasts indicate the storm will likely arrive east of South Florida late Thursday or early Friday.
In a cautionary move, Carnival Cruise Line said it has rerouted eight of its cruises to stay west of the storm. In some cases, ships were rerouted to the western Caribbean and Mexico; in other cases, the order of the ports was shifted to avoid danger.
“Routing decisions are made by our team of highly experienced marine navigation experts in collaboration with each ship’s captain,” said Carnival Cruise Line spokeswoman Jennifer de la Cruz.
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As of now, there are no changes to cruises beginning or ending in Miami or Fort Lauderdale on Thursday or Friday, she said, but that could change. “We are continuing to monitor the storm and will make additional adjustments as necessary as things progress.”
Refund policies vary and depend in part on factors like the degree of change to the itinerary. In some instances, guests are given the option to cancel and receive a full refund, de la Cruz said. For updates, consumers can visit www.carnival.com.
Royal Caribbean has also rerouted several ships. For instance the Freedom of the Seas that departed Sunday from Port Canaveral will call on San Juan rather than CocoCay, Bahamas. The Allure of the Seas, which departed Sunday from Port Everglades, will call at its usual ports, but in a modified order, with the stops in Falmouth, Jamaica and Labadee, Haiti shifted to the end of the cruise. Weather alert communications are posted and updated on rccl.com, said spokesman Owen Torres.
Norwegian Cruise Line spokeswoman Vanessa Picariello said Norwegian Sky, which departed on Monday, will call on Key West and Cozumel rather than the Bahamas. “We continue to closely watch the storm and are prepared to make alternate arrangements in the event that the ship’s return [to Miami] on Friday is delayed.” she said. “At this time, all of the remainder of our ships are sailing as scheduled and are not impacted by the storm’s path.” Updates will be posted on www.ncl.com.