Questions and Answers about travel in the Caribbean
Our friends in the Caribbean need our help in so many ways and hopefully the information below is helpful.
Thanks for being such great travelers.

Q: How badly have the hurricanes impacted the Caribbean ports?

Overall, the vast majority of Caribbean destinations are open for business and welcoming thousands of cruise passengers every day.

Of nearly 100 ports in the Caribbean, almost 85 percent are open and fully operational. This number is expected to rise to over 90 percent in coming weeks.

For perspective, the Caribbean is an extraordinarily immense region that stretches for over one million square miles. As a result, the vast majority of the islands were not in the paths of the August and September hurricanes and most of the region’s ports incurred minimal or no damage and have been and continue to be in operation.

Q: What ports are still closed?

Only a small number of destinations are not yet operational; however, the impacted destinations are recovering quickly and expected to be up and running soon.

Q: If I go to the Caribbean now, will I be interfering with recovery efforts?

Most definitely not. Since the vast majority of the islands incurred minimal or no damage, the Caribbean is absolutely open for business, with thousands of cruise passengers visiting some of the world’s most beautiful islands every day – and being welcomed by local businesses and workers who have a deep passion for making sure visitors have a great experience.

In fact, this is a great time to go on a cruise to the Caribbean. First, it is one of the world’s most popular places to vacation, with spectacular beaches that lead into the Caribbean Sea famous for its crystal-clear, turquoise water, along with the diversity of dozens of island destinations, and vibrant and thriving towns and villages, and the convenience of being easily accessible. Beyond that, tourism is critical for Caribbean economies – and cruising is a vital part of tourism’s overall economic impact.

During the 2014-2015 cruise season, cruising generated $2.4 billion in direct economic impact for the Caribbean and created nearly 55,000 jobs and $842 million in wages throughout the region. This is in addition to the indirect jobs created in supporting industries, such as providing supplies for shore excursions, ports and restaurants.

To this point, here is perspective from Carolyn Spencer Brown, chief content strategist for the popular website Cruise Critic:

"Seasoned cruisers to the Caribbean understand that most of the islands have been unaffected. They also understand that tourism is a top driver for the islands’ economic well-being, and that cruises are a large part of that equation. Because of that, it’s important for both cruise lines and travelers to continue to support so many of the Caribbean islands that are ready for business, and eager to provide travelers with the incredible vacations they’ve come to expect from the region. In turn, beyond having a great time enjoying the world's most popular region for cruise vacations, they’ll also be able to support the economy and locals who have been through a challenging time."

Q: Is now really a good time to go to the Caribbean, or should I wait?

Now is a perfect time to visit the Caribbean, and a cruise is a great way to experience and enjoy one of the world’s most popular vacation destinations. In fact, thousands of cruise passengers are having a great time on cruise ships every day in the Caribbean and visiting dozens of beautiful islands

For those looking for good deals, cruise vacations to the Caribbean always provide an exceptional value. And with the cruise industry celebrating Plan a Cruise Month in October, many cruise lines are offering special promotions and incentives. So going to and/or booking a cruise to the Caribbean now is an especially good idea.

Q: Are cruises being canceled?

No, not at all. With the vast majority of the Caribbean open for business, there are no plans to cancel any cruises. In fact, travel volumes remain strong, with thousands of passengers every day sailing on cruise ships and enjoying one of the most beautiful regions in the world for vacation.

It is possible that some itineraries may be modified, but otherwise it is business as usual as all cruises are full speed ahead.

Q: Are people still going to the Caribbean after the storms

The Caribbean is absolutely open for business, with thousands of people sailing on cruise ships every day and having great vacations.

In terms of bookings to the Caribbean – the world’s most popular region for cruising – occupancy numbers are running strong.

Q: Is there any remaining impact on Mexico and the Gulf Coast from the hurricanes or the recent Mexico earthquake?

All of the cruise ports in Mexico, Florida and Texas are fully operational.

All six ports in Florida are open – PortMiami, Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Port Canaveral outside Orlando, Port Tampa Bay, Jaxport in Jacksonville and the port of Key West, which has been fully operational and receiving cruise guests for several weeks.

The Port of Galveston in Texas, located about 90 minutes from Houston, reopened to passengers the weekend following Hurricane Harvey.

Q: Are Panama Canal destinations affected?

No. Ports on Panama Canal sailings have had no impact. 

Q: Are all shore excursions operating in ports that are open? If guests don't participate in shore excursions from their cruise line, can they still leave the ship/explore on their own?

Since the vast majority of destinations realized no impact, it is business as usual for their shore excursions. 

For the handful of destinations that were temporarily closed and have re-opened or will be re-opening soon, it is expected that most of the shore excursions available prior to the storms will be in operation.

However, some shore excursions will be delayed in welcoming guests back due to lead times for equipment and repairs. There are a wide variety of shore excursions offered at destinations called on by cruise lines, enabling cruise passengers to choose from plenty of activities they can enjoy during their days ashore.

Cruise lines have deep and long-standing relationships with local experts and tour operators, so excursions from cruise lines are popular choices for guests. As always, though, guests are welcome to explore on their own and shipboard teams can guide guests to areas recommended for self-touring.

SPECIFIC ITINERARY CHANGES/CANCELLATIONS

Q: If my destination is one of the affected ports, will my itinerary change?

For the small handful of affected islands, it will take some time for those communities to get back up and running. Each of the island communities impacted rely heavily on tourism – and especially cruise passengers – for their economic well-being, so there is a tremendous amount of effort being made in these few destinations.

Cruise lines are in constant communication with each of the islands to understand their specific situation so decisions can be made on future itineraries. Everyone is optimistic that the impacted ports will reopen soon.

As a result, slight itinerary modifications may be made that will include visiting other great Caribbean destinations. Any adjustments will be posted as soon as they are finalized. Cruise lines are also in touch with guests individually or through their travel agent. Travelers with questions related to their itinerary and ports of call should contact the cruise line to get details on their specific cruise.

Q: I have an upcoming cruise booked that includes a call on San Juan, Puerto Rico. The itinerary has not been changed, but the port is still closed. Will my ship travel to Puerto Rico?

We always do our best to retain published ports of call whenever possible. The decision to make a call will be based on information from local authorities, port officials and tour operators to ensure we can deliver a safe and positive guest experience.

The Port of San Juan has begun receiving cruise ships again and is beginning to return to normal business operations.

Q: Will our insurance cover us if we cancel?

Each insurance policy is different, so guests should speak to their travel insurance provider directly.

Q: If I have booked shore excursions in canceled ports, will these be canceled?

If any ports of call are canceled from an itinerary, then a full refund will be given on shore excursions booked directly through a cruise line. Guests who book shore excursions through an independent service provider are encouraged to directly contact their provider.

Q: How can guests be assured a good experience in each Caribbean port?

The Caribbean is the world’s most popular region for cruise vacations for a reason: stunning beaches, the legendary crystal-clear, turquoise beauty of the Caribbean Sea, the diversity of the island destinations, and vibrant and thriving towns and villages, along with being easily accessible.

Cruise lines have been sailing tens of millions of guests to the Caribbean for decades and guests consistently enjoy great vacations, with many of them returning time and time again to explore new and different aspects of the vast Caribbean region. That has been the situation for nearly 50 years, and it remains the same today.

Q: How will guests be notified of any changes?

Cruise lines are proactively communicating with guests individually or through travel agents in advance of any modified trip. Further, cruise lines are also posting regular updates on their websites.

CARIBBEAN RELIEF & RECOVERY EFFORTS

Q: How has the industry been supporting hurricane relief efforts?

Cruise lines are providing relief efforts in a number of ways, such as donations, procuring and complimentary shipping of necessary goods to islands in need and using their ships to help evacuation efforts.

In addition, cruise lines have begun implementing ways for guests, both before their trips and onboard, to donate to recovery efforts. Please contact your cruise line directly for more information on what they are doing and how you might be able to support.

Q: Can I bring items to donate on board?

The best way to help with the recovery is to make a financial contribution to an aid organization. Recovery from natural disasters requires significant infrastructure to receive and distribute supplies and the needs of each destination vary, so the organizations responding to the recovery and rebuilding efforts are requesting monetary donations.