by Jason Leppert
Last updated: 11:00 AM ET, Wed September 28, 2016
It rarely happens, but every once in a while, a planned cruise port-of-call has to be skipped because of weather conditions. In those cases, an extra sea day is usually the alternative, but that needn't be a bad thing.
As I currently sail on Seabourn's luxurious Seabourn Quest in Canada and New England, we unfortunately had to bypass Baie-Comeau as the heavy wind and swell conditions were such that there would not be enough water under our keel to safely dock alongside, but such things are outside the control of the cruise line and ship's captain.
Within the last year, we were also on Disney Cruise Line's Disney Fantasy when it couldn't stop at Castaway Cay. To be sure, if you've planned a Disney cruise, especially for its highly-regarded private island specifically, it's extremely disappointing to miss it, but safety must always come first.
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You may not be surprised to know that weather can have an affect on a smaller vessel like the Seabourn Quest, which we must admit has ridden extremely stable considering the conditions, but wonder how it could possibly deter a much larger one like the Disney Fantasy.
Well, as powerful as such ships are to plow through the water forwards, they also contain lots of superstructural surface area, all of its balcony nooks and crannies mathematically included, and that collectively acts as a giant sail that can catch the wind. It's never enough to topple a cruise ship, as they are built to withstand that, but lateral thrusters, fully capable the majority of the time, can sometimes be overcome by very high winds, making delicate docking maneuvers too difficult to achieve safely.
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So, the alternative is an unplanned day at sea, which are honestly some of the most relaxing and enjoyable of a cruise vacation. An abundance of shore excursions mean passengers get to see a lot ashore, but they can take their toll on a trip frequented by tours. The antidote is a sea day-perfect for getting in a spa treatment, provided you book it quickly enough to reserve limited space, or just reading a good book in the ship's observation lounge, watching the waves go by.
Usually the cruise director and entertainment staff will also swiftly modify the daily schedule of activities and dining times to accommodate more people suddenly being onboard than initially planned. That can mean bonus trivia sessions, film screenings and lots more are likely in store. In fact, as the shops are closed on port days due to shore regulations, those can now be reopened at sea as well. If, of course, you really had your mind set on the destination that was omitted from the itinerary, you can always use this time to research and book a return cruise.
Either way, ships these days offer plenty to do onboard and truly are often destinations unto themselves, so all is not lost.
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