Sometimes life throws you a curve ball and unexpected situations arise and you just have to go with the flow. Accept. Adapt. Make a new plan and make the most of it. Life is short and meant to be enjoyed!
This is exactly what happened to us, we had finally taken the plunge and booked our Caribbean cruise out of Miami, something we’d been meaning to do since moving here. Living in Miami there are many accessible cruise ports to choose from and we envisioned ourselves jumping on last minute cruise specials on a whim when we first moved. In reality we’ve watched the ships cruise by from our balcony and said – we have to get out on one of those again!
As it turns out, we had an unused credit from our last cruise with NCL and the voucher would be expiring soon! Just the excuse we needed, so we just had to make a decision on where and when to go. We reviewed, compared and found out as much as we could about our ports of call before choosing our itinerary.
We had originally contemplated booking in the middle of hurricane season but opted for the end of November. This turned out to be a good decision and we narrowly avoided being stuck on a cruise ship or having our cruise cancelled, like many unfortunate travelers did.
We ended up booking a weeklong Eastern Caribbean Cruise calling in Tortola, St. John and Nassau. We had no way of knowing that they would soon be facing the brunt of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. This year has been an intense and devastating hurricane season. Both ports in the Virgin Islands were literally destroyed. Our hearts go out to the people that were affected.
While we wish we could go and support the economies to help them get back on their feet, we understand that it’s hard for these places to accommodate a cruise ship when the island and port have been devastated. People are rebuilding and caring for their families, getting parts, materials, and labor for repairs takes time and even more so on a remote island.
NCL ended up rerouting us to a modified itinerary on a Western Caribbean Cruise and we are now stopping in Jamaica, Grand Cayman, Cozumel, and the Bahamas… it could be worse!!
We will get some fresh pictures of the famous Dunn’s River Falls in Jamaica, hopefully get back in the water in the Cayman Islands and make the most of our week long escape. We plan to make it back to the original ports some time in the future.
This is not the first time that our cruise itinerary has been modified, but it is the most drastic change. Of course, we’re still lucky compared to some! We recently saw a report that a diving liveaboard had sunk, and all the divers were scrambling to get off and find some other accommodations.
On a prior cruise in Hawaii, one of the passengers on our ship had a serious heart attack and they routed the ship back to Honolulu in the middle of the night to get him the medical care he needed. He was ok, but we ended up missing our stop in Hilo. Some years later, we did end up making it back for a land trip to the Big Island and got to see Hilo, and Hawai’i Volcano National Park.
Another time, our ship had to head into port to drop people off, skipping the scenic cruising we were supposed to be doing. Not sure what they did or why they were being banished, best not to ask to many questions lest they group us with the troublemakers.
If you read your cruise contract carefully, you’ll see that all of this is entirely at the cruise ship’s discretion and you have little or no say in the matter. No right to contest, no refunds, rarely even the opportunity to cancel without penalty. They wrote the contract of carriage and for sure it’s slanted towards benefiting the cruise line.
So rather than fighting against the current, we’ve opted to say… hey, we’re getting a custom cruise as a modified Western Caribbean which allows us to do the original cruise again sometime in the future. The latter is offered all the time, so were really getting something new and unique, like a custom itinerary.
Lemonade instead of lemons!