Cruise Lines, Sellers Face Post-Hurricane Challenges


Key West's cruise port.

Too many. Too powerful. And in too short a time.

It's unprecedented in modern-day times to have three hurricanes in a row of this might and impact on the Caribbean cruise business.

A case in point for this hurricane season’s impact is Adventure of the Seas, which departed Puerto Rico on 16SEPT. The ship has since skipped or replaced calls originally set for St. Maarten, St. John's, St. Lucia, and Barbados. Instead of returning to San Juan, the cruise will end in Ft. Lauderdale. Talk about a mystery itinerary.

Puerto Rico is a key turnaround port, not only for Adventure of the Seas, but for Carnival Fascination, which also has a strongly altered itinerary this week. In upcoming months scheduled turnarounds for San Juan also include Jewel of the Seas, Viking Sea, Celebrity Summit, Norwegian Dawn, Azamara Quest and Regal Princess, all prior to the end of the year.

On the business side, agents are sounding more worried about the impact all this bad news from the Caribbean is having on the perceptions of prospective cruisers.

"The unknown is the biggest fear and biggest negative that we have right now," Mark Comfort, of Cruise Holidays told CruiseWeek. "It's the perception of everything being hit."

In an earlier report, CruiseWeek quoted Craig Baldridge of Creative Vacations & Cruise Centers, as saying he didn't see the hurricanes changing the positive direction business is going.

But with Maria, he no longer sees this for certain. "What an incredible change from not a major impact to being one in just a few hours," said Baldridge. "People are not taking the wait and see approach that we were seeing last week. Too many islands impacted."

To his point, Carnival's Travel Alerts page on 9/20 listed 13 departures with changed itineraries near-term. Norwegian announced that Norwegian Escape will now be sailing western Caribbean through the end of the year. There’s some good news in the fact that Key West is expected to re-open 20OCT.

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