In all likelihood, you will never need to know.
Why? Because the long-standing strategy of cruise lines is to avoid a storm completely. Cruise line operators have been operating in the hurricane zone for many years now and their experience indicates going around the storm is the best course of action. This is why cruises are almost never canceled.
You wouldn’t think one of those huge ships could move very fast, but it’s true. While a typical hurricane travels at between 10 and 12 knots (with one notable exception: 1992’s Hurricane Andrew traveled at 16 knots), most cruise ships are capable of traveling above 20 knots.
Cruise line operators have not only outfitted their ships with the latest satellite and communications equipment, they also have teams of people who closely monitor the weather – on the ship and back at headquarters. At all times, these folks are aware of any tropical storm developments.
It’s far more likely the cruise operators will have trouble finding alternate ports at which to dock or anchor when the ship is re-routed due to tropical storms. When all the cruise ships in the region are also seeking alternative ports, things can get a little crowded. Of course, the cruise line may simply add a few extra days at sea instead.
In addition, underwater shifts due to storm-driven sand can create new ground near ports. Essentially, the elevation of the bottom of the water may change during a hurricane. This is why ports may not immediately open after a storm has passed – the depth needs to be re-verified or a cruise ship could run aground.
Damian Tysdal is the founder of CoverTrip, and is a licensed agent for travel insurance (MA 1883287). He believes travel insurance should be easier to understand, and started the first travel insurance blog in 2006.