Indeed, hurricane activity across the Atlantic Basin this year was just slightly lower than expected. However, there was more action this year than last (14 named storms compared to 9, and 6 hurricanes compared to 5) -- and more of an impact on cruising. Of note is Category Five Hurricane Dean, which made landfall near Costa Maya, closing the port until fall of next year and devastating the nearby fishing village of Majahual.
Through it all, Cruise Critic's news team was alive and kicking; for the second year in a row, our Hurricane Zone was updated regularly with to-the-minute itinerary changes, port closures and weather advisories. Read on for more facts and figures from Cruise Critic's hurricane team:
Season Plays Out as Expected ... Almost: Fourteen named storms formed in the Atlantic this season, which was right on target with the estimated figure of 13 to 17. However, the number and severity of hurricanes fell short, making the season slightly less powerful than expected. Of six hurricanes that formed, two -- Dean and Felix -- were major (Category Three strength or higher). That is considered a "near normal" season, according to the NOAA; back in May, the NOAA called for a "above normal" season of with 7 to 10 becoming hurricanes and three to five becoming major hurricanes.
Impact on Cruising: Again, Hurricane Dean had a huge impact this year; Costa Maya is still closed as the pier is rebuilt (about half of it was simply gone) and tourist village revitalized. The port's developers have confirmed that it will take until September 2008 to rebuild the day resort. In the meantime, cruise lines have replaced calls there with visits to ports such as Cozumel, Playa del Carmen, Progreso and Roatan.
The cruise port of Roatan, interestingly enough, just barely escaped the wrath of Hurricane Felix; thankfully, there was no major damage and just one itinerary affected.
Activity Continues in the Pacific: As in 2006, the East Pacific season gave Mexican Riviera cruisers a run for their money. Mexican Riviera ports had several near-misses with Barbara, Flossie, Henriette, Ivo and Kiko (the latter two affected itineraries).
Note: Historically, when the Atlantic experiences above-normal seasonal activity, the Pacific tends to experience below-normal seasonal activity and vice versa.
Only One Hurricane Strikes U.S. in 2007: The hurricane season has ended with just one hurricane striking the United States: Humberto. Tropical Depression Barry came ashore near Tampa in June; Tropical Depression Erin brushed southeast Texas on August 16. Last year, no hurricanes reached the U.S. (in 2005, there were four, including the devastating Hurricane Katrina).
--by Melissa Baldwin, Managing Editor