If you are afraid of cruising because of storms or otherwise, make sure to read through this whole post before making up your mind.
As the effects of Hurricane Matthew wind down, I have been thinking about what it would be like to cruise during a dangerous storm. While I am terrified by the thought of experiencing a strong hurricane, I have never actually been caught in one while sailing. This past weekend, many ports were closed as a result of the storm. Some ships were stuck out at sea, while others had to alter their itineraries, which most likely made for many unhappy passengers. To my knowledge, luckily all of the ships stayed safe throughout the storm.
Some may think that the mega ships operating today could withstand a storm easily. Others may think that the new, constantly evolving technology would allow for passengers to avoid seasickness all together. Unfortunately, both of these thoughts are not accurate. Sometimes the waves do get very large and rock the ship; sometimes, the stabilizers are just not strong enough. Mother nature can be pretty tough.
To see a video of a cruise ship sailing through a large storm, check out the Anthem of the Seas voyage from the beginning of February 2016. If you are feeling adventurous, search Google for more videos and pictures of the scary voyage!
Sailing during hurricane season is usually cheaper, but also much more risky. While safety is clearly an issue, itineraries and lengths of the sailings can be changed at any second. The seas are rougher and the skies are often darker. A lot of the outdoor activities that passengers usually look forward to are no longer available. Ultimately, hurricane season is not always the best opportunity for cruising.
Although I have never sailed into a hurricane, I have had my share of plenty of storms. I remember sailing through a storm on one of my earliest cruises when I was very little. The first night of the cruise, my parents and I were sitting at a table in the Main Dining Room (MDR) with a family that we had never met. Throughout the dinner, one-by-one, we all had to leave the table and go to our cabins. The boat kept rocking and all of us got extremely nauseous. On top of this, even though the weather was not great, later in the week I really wanted to go swimming. Being young, my mom supervised this activity from beside the pool. Quickly, without any real notice, the pool became extremely rough. Without exaggeration, half of the pool would be splashing out of one side, while the other side would be completely empty. Chairs were falling into the pool and swimmers could not control their strokes. It felt as if the current would not let us move. My mom ended up figuring out a way to help pull me out of the pool from the side, keeping me safe.
Before a different cruise, I was tracking the weather constantly to see if we would hit any good weather. To my dismay, it seemed like it was going to rain the whole trip. Somehow, we were able to have a few sunny days, but of course, rough seas could not be avoided. Every night at dinner in the MDR we could see the water in our cups moving back and forth, similar to the pool experience that I described above. The beautiful chandeliers that decorated the room also swayed back and forth. The waiters had difficulty serving meals and the broadway-like dance shows for later in the evening had to be cancelled. On the last day, my whole family got seasick, which is very rare. My dad and I ended up retreating to our cabins to sleep through the extremely rocky hours, while my mom and friend slept up on the Lido Deck to get some air.
While not very pleasant, all of these storms were manageable. They definitely were not hurricane situations, but they did rock the boat. Remember, not all storms cause rough seas! On my last Carnival voyage on the Victory, I was able to see a lightening storm further out in the ocean. The seas were a little rough, but the motion was not felt. Seeing the lightening in the middle of the open ocean was thrilling, especially because we had not had any bad weather on the trip. Since WordPress will not let me post a video, here is a slideshow of screenshots from the video that I took of the storm. Please note that this all happened in less than a second.
Every storm and boat are different, but strong hurricanes can always be dangerous to every voyage. The wind gets really strong and the seas get rough. All in all, I am glad that Hurricane Matthew did not do too much damage this weekend, but I am truly sorry for those impacted by the strong storm. Sailing in hurricane season can be cheaper, but also more riskier.