Hurricanes and Cruise Ships

If you go on a summertime cruise in the Atlantic, you're going during hurricane season. Here's what you need to know about these wild windstorms.

Hurricane season is traditionally August through October. Anything from a low force (tropical storm) through a high force (hurricane) can be seen in the Atlantic between these times. Pretty much all ports of call can be affected.

That's not to say that no hurricanes are seen outside of those few months. The very first signs of hurricanes tend to begin in June. Usually at this point they do not get larger than the tropical storm stage. The first named storm of 2005 was Arlene, on June 8th. She was a tropical storm. Brett, another tropical storm, formed on June 28th. It's rare to get 2 named storms in June, but it does happen.

Storms also tend to taper off in strength late in the season. The last named storm in 2004 was tropical storm Otto, which formed on November 30, 2004.

In between the two endpoints, hurricanes are fairly common. There are around 10 named storms a year, with about 6 of them developing into hurricanes. Luckily, hurricanes are quite slow. They only move about 12 mph. Cruise ships can go MUCH more quickly than that. Cruise ships have very well developed storm tracking systems and of course have access to the Weather Channel, NOAA and other reports. The ship's crew knows exactly when a storm begins to form and what its track is. If they have to, they simply alter course for a while to stay clear of the storm.

Since summertime usually has the best weather for visiting the Atlantic islands - and since most of us get our vacation time during those months - it's really best not to worry much about hurricanes. They happen, just like many other events in nature. You never know - if you have to change ports, you might end up at somewhere fascinating that few cruisers get to go!

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