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Travel Talk

6/12/2008
Hurricane Season - To Cruise or Not to Cruise?

Important Note: SouthernCruising.com™ emphasizes that these tips should be taken in the context of your own personal situation and how much you feel comfortable doing during what could be a difficult weather period. There are no guarantees, obviously, that any tips will avoid problems with your vacation. But these tips may add good perspective as you make your decision.

Cruising or Traveling

During Hurricane Season?

Photo of trees blowing during a hurricane goes here.

MacNair Travel & Cruises/American Express Offers Traveler Tips

MacNair Travel & Cruises/American Express of Alexandria, VA, put out a press release in May discussing how travelers might prepare for vacations during Hurricane Season (June 1 to Nov. 30). As a reader service, we're happy to print the basics of the press release from this firm.

The National Hurricane Center is predicting an active hurricane season with up to 17 named storms. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said seven to 10 of those storms could become hurricanes, with three to five becoming major hurricanes of category three or stronger.

Summer travel is on the rise and the threat of hurricanes is not stopping people from taking vacations to more hurricane prone destinations, according to Skip Fortier, director, MacNair’s Travel & Cruises Division.  As such, MacNair outlined tips that travelers might employ to ensure smooth sailing throughout hurricane designated months.

"Whether you are taking a cruise or visiting an all-inclusive resort in the Caribbean, a traveler’s best defense during the hurricane season is to purchase travel insurance,” Fortier said. “Even the basic travel insurance will provide some compensation if flights are cancelled or a resort is closed down due to a hurricane.”

Since the 2005 devastating hurricane season, third party insurance companies have made many enhancements to their policies with regards to hurricanes including that if an area is determined uninhabitable, the traveler is covered. Prior to 2005, if an airport was open, yet the resort was closed, the traveler was not covered.

“By purchasing travel insurance, more options are available to those going on vacation. Insurance provides peace of mind for travelers in knowing their travel investment is protected,” Fortier adds.

Fortier says “You need to plan ahead. While we can not forecast the weather for this summer, we can provide help in dealing with the variety of weather conditions vacationers may face that could take a toll on vacations.”

Following are MacNair's seven travel strategies to help consumers prepare for the onset of hurricane season:

1. Use a Travel Agent.

Purchasing vacation packages through a travel agency will give travelers the peace of mind in knowing that travel professionals are their advocates. A good agent will assist you through a difficult travel scenarios.

If a vacation is booked online, a vacationer may find they are on their own and it may be difficult to get through to one an online representatives.

2. Purchase Travel Insurance.

As noted, travel insurance -- especially during this period -- is a must. Different travel companies offer a variety of vacation insurance plans. Talk to your agent about which meets your needs.

Some companies offer a “cancel for any reason” waiver, allowing travelers to see that a hurricane might be heading in the direction of their vacation destination. With this type of plan, the travel agent can quickly use their resources to find another optimal vacation spot and rebook clients so their vacation is not lost.

3. Don't Make Assumptions 

Even if you purchase nonrefundable tickets, some airlines will attempt to accommodate their passengers in the event of schedule delays and cancellations due to hurricanes.

And if a hurricane hit a destination a traveler might be frequenting next month, do not assume that the resort sustained damage. A travel agent can provide up-to-date information on status of resort and destination conditions.

4. Be One Step Ahead

Always call the airport early to check on the status of your flights. Many airlines allow online check-in up to 24-hours prior to departure.

Check the weather at your destination a few days before your trip. Knowing in advance what the expected weather pattern is going to help a vacationer prepare and take necessary steps prior to a trip.

5. Sailing around the Storm

If you're taking a cruise vacation, there is a reasonably good chance that your vacation will not be ruined by a hurricane. The cruise industry has state-of-the-art technology on all of their ships and they can alter their itineraries to avoid oncoming hurricanes.

If they have to cancel the entire voyage, most cruise lines aware a future cruise credit to passengers. And if weather causes a cruiser to miss the sailing, they can sometimes catch up to ship at first port of call.

Of course, having travel insurance provides added protection and covers many unforeseen expenses.

6. Pack Light and Bring Technology Tools.

Whenever possible, pack light. Checked luggage complicates things if a flight is rescheduled or re-routed. Be sure to carry a fully charged cell phone and have your travel agent’s number and after-hours emergency assistance number in hand in case alternate travel arrangements need to be made.

Even while waiting in line at airport, call your travel agent as you might be able to resolve any issue before you even make it to front of line.

7. Take an Extra Day.

Particularly when cruising out of southern ports such as Fort Lauderdale, Tampa, Miami and San Juan, consider spending a pre-cruise overnight in your departure city. This has multiple benefits. You'll have a day to unwind and get into vacation mode. Plus, you'll have a time cushion in case of delayed flights due to inclement weather.

The most important advice is to expect the unexpected, according to Fortier. “If you are prepared for everything, you can handle just about anything – even a hurricane.”

SouthernCruising.com™ does not endorse this nor any other travel agency. Using a specific agent is matter of personal choice. With that in mind, readers interested in talking with MacNair Travel about travel arrangements may call 866-MACNAIR or www.macnairtravelandcruises.com.

 


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