I write this post in my cabin as we crash thru waves on the way to Grand Cayman. Although these are not overly large waves they are big enough to likely close Stingray City and make tendering a bit tougher than normal. The ship handles the seas just fine and there aren’t even any barf bags out by the stairs as happens when the waves get really bad. As I look out and see an overcast sky where we are now and know that we are likely to have a cloudy day the entire time we are in port I thought I’d chat about bad weather days while at sea.
I admit I enjoy watching video shot by ship crews who are caught up in really bad weather. They can easily be found on You Tube when you search ships and bad weather. There are some videos that would make you think cruising can be really dangerous. Generally though, cruise ships are able to avoid the worst of the weather and provide a nice smooth cruise experience for all aboard. That doesn’t mean that mildly bad weather is always avoided and that ports are not affected by the bad weather.
Ports come in two types, ones with docking facilities and those where you ride a tender to shore. Where you dock typically weather has minimal impact on the docking operations and if the waves are really bad offshore tying up to the dock really can be nice for those who don’t like rough seas. Tendering ports however can really be impacted by bad weather. The waves may not affect the ship too much but may be bad enough that tenders can’t safely ply the waters between the ship and port. Even when the tenders can operate it may be too rough to load tenders on the ship end which can throw it all into a tizzy.
Generally the tender ports that are unavailable due to bad weather are replaced with an alternate port when possible, although in some cases it is just not possible to replace the port. In the case of a cancelled port where there is no replacement port, they typically end up spending the day at sea, which depending on just how bad the weather is may be a blessing or a curse.
I for one don’t get too worried about the weather because of two things, first I am glad to be on a cruise, and secondly, the Master of the Ship (aka Captain) doesn’t want to sail in bad weather knowing his job in part is ensuring guest comfort. Thus, they do their best to avoid bad weather and when we encounter it, it’s a function of the bad weather being unavoidable. When we are stuck in bad weather new events are scheduled to allow guests to keep busy and have a good time while aboard the ship. If the bad weather forces the closure of outside decks, which can happen if the winds get too strong on the outer decks, the activities planned will all happen inside the public space of the ship.