As winter turns into summer and the global cruise season starts to expand beyond the reaches of warm-weather destinations like the Caribbean into more of Europe, Canada and Alaska, more of us will be flying to our cruises. But strikes, unrest and travel disruptions continue into 2023.
Rather than abating, travellers should expect these issues to continue to affect their ability to get to their cruise -- and should plan accordingly.
Here are a few of the issues Cruise Critic readers should know about that could affect that spring or summer getaway.
Strikes in the UK and Europe have begun to seriously impact air travel for those with cruises in the near-term.
British Airways has already cancelled up to 32 flights per day from London's Heathrow Airport over the Easter break. The walkout, which ran from March 31, 2023 to April 9, affected flights arriving and departing from Terminal 5, affecting security and cargo workers from the Unite union who will walk off the job.
The airport is warning travellers it may take longer to get through security during the strike action, and to plan accordingly.
Similar strikes have already caused disruptions in France, Spain and Germany this year. On March 27, all Lufthansa flights across Germany were cancelled due to industrial strike action, with the airline warning passengers that rebooking options would be extremely limited.
The 24-hour work stoppage has also dramatically curtailed any kind of public transit: trains, busses and trams have all mostly stopped running. Rail operator Deutsche Bahn said approximately 30,000 rail workers had walked off the job.
It is the latest in a series of day-long strikes that have seriously impacted air and rail travel throughout Germany in recent weeks, leaving some travellers stranded with few alternatives. It's an event that local German media have dubbed a "Mega Strike".
In Spain, air traffic controllers have walked off the job on Tuesdays over pay. Swissport, a company that provides ground-handling services for aircraft, has warned its unionized employees in Spain will strike on a rolling basis.
The Italian government, meanwhile, has warned that some local public transit operators will strike in April.
And in France, an unpopular bill to raise the minimum retirement age has resulted in strikes, shutdowns, protests and work stoppages.
The real kicker here: there's likely no end in sight for these random strikes. And, with full flights on both sides of the ocean, the knock-on effect could be as dramatic as what occurred last summer, when airports across the globe melted down under the weight of travelers returning to the skies.
Rare winter storms that pack a punch. Summer thunderstorms. Record flooding. All of these things are here to stay, and are more likely than ever to snarl up spring and summer travel plans.
One such event occurred on April 12, 2023, when record flooding shut down Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport for nearly three days. The storm -- which saw parts of South Florida experience as much rain in seven hours as they would in a typical month -- snarled traffic and stranded travelers in hotels, airports and cars.
It can pay to watch the weather forecast -- airlines sometimes offer to waive change fees in advance of known storms. But few probably predicted the closure of one of South Florida's busiest airports right before a jam-packed weekend of cruise departures.
The list of countries rocked by political unrest continues to grow. From widespread demonstrations against the government in France, to record-breaking protests in Israel that saw Tel Aviv's international airport completely shut down at the end of March, political unrest is an issue cruisers should monitor as their departure date draws near.
Depending on the size, protests and demonstrations can be hugely disruptive to travellers. What's more, these aren't just limited to countries like Ecuador, France, and Israel, either. Look no further than Florida Governor Ron DeSantis's onging fight with Walt Disney World to see what potential turmoil on a local scale looks like.
Being prepared starts with being informed. Make sure you regularly check your email for commination from your cruise line, airline or hotel, and do yourself a favor and put the apps for all on your phone. In the event the unexpected happens, rebooking a flight or hotel is a lot easier over an app than it is via a call center.
Secondly, start doing some research on the places you intend to fly through, to, or visit on your cruise. A simple Google search can give you updates on the latest on-the-ground news. Strikes in Germany and the UK have been well-publicised (or at least threatened publicly) beforehand. A union announcing it is in a position to strike, with the potential to affect your flights, should be taken seriously. Call your airline, even if they haven't issued a travel alert. With flights packed-to-the-gills this summer, finding a seat on the "next flight out" is quickly becoming a thing of the past.