Dangers of Caribbean Cruise Lines
Many cruise lines, such as Royal Caribbean
, Carnival, Disney, Princess, Holland America and Norwegian, offer cruises
to the Caribbean. It's a popular destination, but there are some dangers of which cruisers should be aware. Some of these dangers are physical, but most are more a matter of discomfort or inconvenience. Being prepared for these possibilities and taking steps to prevent them can help travelers make the most of their vacation when they travel on Caribbean cruise lines.
Although most Caribbean destinations are relatively safe for day visitors arriving on cruise ships, crime can be a problem in any tourist area. Caribbean cruise lines will change their itinerary to exclude certain areas that are deemed unsafe. However, this is relatively rare and only happens under extreme circumstances. Tourists can lessen the danger by taking supervised shore excursions offered by the Caribbean cruise lines rather than going out on their own, limiting the amount of money they take ashore, and securing their valuables. If you're not sure about the danger level in the ports of call, you can check the U.S. Department of State's website for specific warnings.
Even in Caribbean ports where crime is not a problem, cruisers may feel intimidated by the differences in culture between the Caribbean and the United States. The economy on many Caribbean islands is dependent on tourism. Because of this, tourists often encounter overly aggressive vendors. Caribbean cruise lines cannot offset this danger, because they have no control over the locals. It's usually more uncomfortable rather than physically dangerous, but travelers to the Caribbean should be prepared for it. Vendors typically approach them, offering everything from cab rides to hair braiding to merchandise, in a sometimes aggressive manner. This can be dealt with by assertively saying "No" and walking away.
Cruise lines that do Caribbean cruises during hurricane season face the danger of be affected by a severe storm. The season runs from June 1 to November 30. Most Caribbean cruise lines offer discounts for sailings between those dates to offset the hurricane risk. The physical danger is minimal, as cruise lines monitor weather patterns closely and can usually reroute their ships to avoid the worst part of the storms. The main danger comes from itinerary changes. You may not be able to visit a destination you were looking forward to if it is being threatened by a hurricane, and your embarkation or debarkation port could even be changed.
Some Caribbean cruise lines use tender boats rather than docking right at the port. Passengers are taken from the ship to land in small boats. Hurricanes and storms can make it dangerous to tender, so this can also cause a stop to be changed or canceled.
Based in Kissimmee, Fla., Barb Nefer is a freelance writer with more than 20 years' experience. She is also a mental health counselor and travel agency owner. Her work has appeared in such magazines as "The Writer," "Animal Wellness," "SuperVision," "Bird Talk," "SpeciaLiving" and "Twins."
Photo: Barb Nefer