HURRICANE MATTHEW: Updated Cruise Line Cancellations and Reimbursement Policies
Image courtesy National Hurricane Center.
As Hurricane Matthew ramps up to a Category 4 storm, many cruisers are wondering if their cruise will be sailing.
The good news is that, for the most part, cancellations look few and far between. The cruise lines have been able to reroute ships, however, many passengers face cancelled flights and difficulty reaching their designated ports. Others are dealing with itinerary changes, and may miss out on ports of call they were originally scheduled to visit.
No matter what passengers are faced with, cruise lines and ports have the best interests of the public and the safety of passengers in mind.
"This is a serious storm, and the protection of people and property is our primary concern," Port Canaveral CEO John Murray said in a statement. "We expect high winds and storm surge throughout the port and have urged the Port community to prepare their facilities so business can resume as quickly as possible after the storm."
Three cruises out of Port Canaveral have been canceled so far. The Oct. 7 Carnival Victory cruise will not sail.
Carnival noted that guests will receive a full refund that will include any pre-paid gratuities, Carnival shore excursions and any FunShop purchases.
Passengers should expect refunds to be applied to the original form of payment within three weeks, according to Carnival and the cruise line will also provide a 25 percent discount off a future two- or three-day cruise.
Disney Cruise Line has also canceled the Disney Dream’s Oct. 7 itinerary out of Cape Canaveral.
“The Oct. 7 sailing of the Disney Dream from Port Canaveral is being cancelled. Refunds will automatically be processed back to the original form of payment used for cruise bookings. Guests are invited to call us at 1-866-325-3905 or 407-566-7032 beginning Monday, Oct. 10, to book a future cruise at a discount,” says a statement on Disney’s cruise blog.
Royal Caribbean has canceled the Oct. 8 sailing of the Majesty of the Seas out of Port Canaveral. On its blog the cruise line stated: “Royal Caribbean had planned on having Majesty of the Seas take a shorter sailing and depart on October 8. The path of the storm and impact on the ship's departure point of Port Canaveral have caused the cruise line to reconsider its plans and cancel the sailing completely.”
For the most part, all cruise lines will be offering refunds to passengers if their cruise is cancelled. Many also offer additional credit or the option to apply credit to a new cruise on a future date.
While only three cruises have been canceled, there are many more that are stuck in port or have been rerouted and many are not returning or leaving port as scheduled. Here is a rundown of where ships are currently sailing.
Carnival Cruise Line
The Carnival Sensation will sail a modified itinerary leaving Miami on Oct. 7 and overnighting in Nassau on Oct. 8. Further changes may be made after the hurricane passes through the area.
According to Carnival: "Guests who opt to sail on the shortened voyage will receive a pro-rated refund equal to the amount of one day of their cruise fare as well as pre-purchased shore excursions for Key West and Cozumel. Refunds will be applied to the original form of payment within three weeks Also, gratuities will be adjusted to reflect the shortened cruise."
The Carnival Splendor reversed its itinerary on the Oct. 2 sailing and will now spend Oct. 7 at sea, returning to Miami on Oct. 8.
The Carnival Ecstasy will spend an extra day at sea, returning to Charleston, S.C., one day later, on Oct. 9. Passengers will receive 25 percent off of a future cruise as well as a $50 credit to be used onboard.
The next Carnival Ecstasy sailing will be just six nights as a result of the delay. The cruise will be pro-rated for passengers and be refunded for shore excursions in Grand Turk and Half Moon Cay.
Carnival Elation will have a delayed return to Jacksonville. Currently, it is scheduled to return on Oct. 8. Tomorrow, passengers will visit Freeport, rather than have a day at sea.
Carnival Fantasy will have a delayed boarding, provided the Port Miami opens on Friday. Says Carnival Cruise Line on its website: "Once conditions become safe on Friday, port officials will begin their assessment and make a determination on when the port is safe to reopen. This could take some time and, assuming the port reopens on Friday, embarkation would take place late afternoon/early evening."
Empress of the Seas will be delayed returning to Miami, visiting Costa Maya on the extra day. The ship will now be returning on Oct. 7. Its next sailing will also be delayed by one day.
According to Royal Caribbean, “To compensate for the missed day, Royal Caribbean will provide each stateroom with an onboard credit in the amount of one day based on the cruise fare paid, which will be credited to guests' onboard accounts. As a gesture of goodwill, we will also be providing all sailing guests with a 25 percent future cruise credit.”
Majesty of the Seas will also be affected. Due to closures at Port Canaveral, the ship will return Oct. 8, when the port reopens.
Disney Cruise Line
Disney Magic will now sail a Canadian itinerary, leaving New York on Oct. 7 and calling at Sydney, Nova Scotia; Halifax, Nova Scotia; and Saint John, New Brunswick.
Passengers can remain on the revised itinerary and receive a $100 per person stateroom credit, cancel for a refund or book a new cruise at a discounted rate. For those who want to book a new cruise, passengers receive a 20 percent discount on a future cruise before the end of 2017.
Cruise Ports Close in Preparation
While cruise ships have canceled itineraries, a number of ports have also closed to prepare for Hurricane Matthew.
Port Miami, Port Everglades, Port Canaveral, Port of Palm Beach and Jacksonville Cruise Port in Florida are all closed due to the hurricane.
In South Carolina, Charleston Cruise Port will be closed for the remainder of the week.
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