Although it is rare for a hurricane to cause a major disruption in a cruise schedule, it does happen. Obviously, no one wants to risk their life for a vacation. (Okay, well, some people probably do enjoy risking their lives on vacation, but those people are probably not taking a cruise).
Tom and I sailed on the Carnival Splendor a few weeks before the fire last year. When we learned about the fire, I wondered how I would feel if my cruise were disrupted by such a scary event. I know I would want to be off that boat.
That doesn’t mean either of us want to become part of a floating disaster. Which is why I appreciate the decision of the San Juan harbor authorities to close the harbor in anticipate of Hurricane Irene earlier this week. San Juan is a popular jumping off point for cruises to the Southern Caribbean.
Two ships were in the San Juan harbor waiting for cruise passengers to embark, the Carnival Victory and Royal Caribbean’s Serenade of the Seas, when word came that they were closing the harbor. Serenade was missing 145 passengers and the Victory was waiting on 300 passengers. Both fleets made the decision to leave early, rather than risk being in the harbor during the hurricane.
That’s where the story gets interesting. While Carnival offered stranded passengers two nights in a hotel and free airfare to Barbados to catch up to the cruise, Royal Caribbean offered the stranded passengers nothing, unless they had purchased the overpriced airfare they sell through the cruiseline.
Honestly? While I am quite certain that Royal Caribbean did not violate the terms of its cruise contract, is there a reason why the company couldn’t go over and above?