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Should you take a cruise during hurricane season?

When it comes to cruise travel and hurricane season, which runs June 1 though Nov. 30, there’s both good news and bad. The good: Forecasters from Colorado State University who issue annual predictions about storm activity say it will be lighter this year. Another check mark in the plus category is that cruise ships, unlike resorts and hotels, can move if storms are headed their way.

But the bad news is that hurricane-season cruises, particularly in the peak period from the end of July through early October, aren’t for the faint of heart (or the motion sickness-challenged). If you’re considering a cruise to the regions that are most likely affected—including the Caribbean, the Atlantic coast and Bermuda, Atlantic crossings, the Gulf of Mexico and even the Pacific from Mexico’s West Coast to Hawaii—here’s what you need to know:

  • Cruise lines like to say that ships can outrun storms and they can definitely deviate from planned itineraries pretty easily, so there’s no worry about actually being onboard in the midst of a hurricane—but a nearby storm can make for rough water nevertheless. Pack your motion potions.
  • Peak season, especially after summer holidays end and kids are back in school, is a fantastic time to nab a cheap Caribbean cruise. Start shopping for last-minute deals for August–October trips at the end of June.
  • Cruise lines will rarely cancel a voyage but you might be in for a different cruise than you expected. Most commonly, when a storm approaches the Western Caribbean, cruise lines may flip-flop the itinerary to head east. Ports of call may be changed, often at the last minute (beware of this particularly if you pre-book your tours with independent shore excursion providers). Your cruise might be cut short or, conversely, your ship may stay longer at sea, particularly if a storm is affecting homeports like Miami, New Orleans or Galveston.
  • What is the actual peak of hurricane activity? Every year for decades, a named storm has been swirling somewhere on September 10.
  • Get travel insurance. And make sure your policy includes hurricane-related coverage, particularly if travel to and from your cruise could be affected
  • For round-the-clock coverage on storms, check out Cruise Critic’s Hurricane Zone.

This story originally appeared on Condé Nast Traveler.

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