Storms Alter Cruise Course

September 3, 2003
‘Tis the season for tropical storms – even in the South Pacific.  NCL’s Hawaii-based Norwegian Star had to bypass Fanning Island this week when Hurricane Jimena caused rough seas and heavy winds. No major damage was reported but the ship did have to hastily re-configure its schedule.
Cruise lines with ships that are Bermuda-bound are keeping a wary eye on Hurricane Fabian. At last report (11 a.m. today), Fabian was 700 miles south of Bermuda and was clocking wind speeds of 135 m.p.h. – still a dangerous category four (131 – 155 m.p.h.).
Most cruise lines report they expect few changes. That’s because many ships -- including Celebrity’s Horizon and Zenith and Norwegian Cruise Line’s Majesty and Norwegian Sea –- will actually, by luck of timing (they are en route back to their U.S. home ports by late Friday), avoid the storms entirely.
On the other hand, Radisson Seven Seas Navigator, which was slated to sail to Bermuda (via New York City) yesterday from Norfolk for a seven-day roundtrip cruise, has changed direction because the government of Bermuda has closed all its ports on Friday. The ship instead will sail a New England/Canada itinerary –- calling at Halifax, Bar Harbor and Boston.  Company communications chief Andrew Poulton says that, as a goodwill gesture, Radisson Seven Seas is offering passengers on that voyage a $100-per guest shipboard credit plus a $750 per-guest future cruise credit, It should be noted that this is a pretty generous offer; cruise lines, according to their contracts, are not required to reimburse passengers for missed ports due to circumstances-beyond-control.
While Hurricane Fabian has now, officially, bypassed a direct hit on islands in the Eastern Caribbean, cruise passengers currently sailing that itinerary should be aware that higher- and rougher-than-usual surf can result in a bumpier ride not to mention at-the-beach safety issues.