Destinations such as Florida and the Caribbean can be popular at all times of year, but every summer many guests wonder if their vacation will be affected by severe weather. While many guests travel to Orlando’s popular theme park destinations or on a Caribbean cruise during hurricane season with no issues, there is the possibility that severe weather can occur and affect airports, theme park operations, cruise ports of call, and more. With this in mind, it’s best to be prepared if you’ll be traveling during this time.
1.When is Hurricane Season?
Officially, hurricane season stretches from June to November, but the peak of the season typically occurs between August and October. This can affect the Caribbean, the Atlantic Coast, and the Gulf of Mexico, among other areas. For theme park visitors, even during peak season, Orlando historically has not seen heavy impact from hurricanes, primarily because of its location in central Florida well away from the coastlines. As we’ve seen in recent years, though, strong storms can still significantly affect the area.
2.Theme Park Storm Policies
So, what happens if you have an Orlando theme park vacation booked and a hurricane may be on its way? If you’re visiting Walt Disney World or Universal Orlando, these theme parks both have an official policy regarding named hurricanes, which you can view here.
Please note that in both policies, they only apply to a hurricane warning, not a hurricane watch. While the theme parks take guest safety very seriously, in cases where it is a hurricane watch, or in Walt Disney World’s case a tropical storm, the theme parks will likely be operating as normal and the policy will not apply.
3.What if I’m on a Cruise?
Cruising is slowly returning this fall, and among the varying travel requirements that are in place, it's also important to keep in mind that they can be affected by hurricane season. Cruises are unique in that, if a hurricane is coming, the ship can alter its course to avoid it in order to keep everyone safe. The downside to this is that you may end up missing planned ports of call, which can happen during a hurricane or even well after a hurricane due to damage to a port. Cruise lines will typically try to visit another port, and cruise lines and many (but not all) independent excursion providers will not charge you for shore excursions if you weren’t able to dock at the port. But if you have your heart set on a particular port, hurricane season may not be the best choice for you.
4. Resort Weather Guarantees
Most Caribbean destinations have been open to travelers since mid-2020, and continue to welcome travelers with varying levels of entry requirements. Some Caribbean resorts have weather policies that guarantee you a refund or a future trip if hurricane weather affects your trip, and some don’t. Be sure to ask your travel agent about your resort’s policies beforehand to see what they provide. Plus, even for resorts that do have a weather policy, they often don’t go into effect unless the hurricane had a significant affect on the resort, such as closing all activities for more than 24 hours or experiencing hurricane-force winds. If your resort just gets more rain than usual, the weather policy likely won’t apply.
5. Get Travel Insurance
Travel insurance is the best way to protect your vacation investment from unexpected circumstances – like a hurricane. Travel insurance can help cover expenses that may not be covered by hotel hurricane policies or by your cruise line, and policies also typically offer emergency medical coverage. I’ve traveled to Florida and the Caribbean during hurricane season for the past several years, thankfully with no issues, but I always have travel insurance in case an issue does arise.