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Caribbean Travel Rates Plunge as Peak Hurricane Season Arrives

Royal Caribbean is offering four-day Bahamas cruises that start at $159. That’s less than $40 per day — and, for many, the cost of a restaurant dinner for two. Travelers sail from Miami as part of this Majesty of the Seas deal that ventures to Nassau, Cococay and Key West. But Royal Caribbean offers other cruises at great rates too – as do other cruise lines with Caribbean ports of call.

Cheap Rates in the Bahamas and Jamaica

Caribbean travelers in the know recognize that cruise lines providing opportunities to sample a variety of locales and include food and activities in rates tend to offer the greatest travel value. But those who prefer to spend more time exploring a specific Caribbean destination can pay as little as $419 for five days at Comfort Suites Paradise Island in the Bahamas. The $84 daily rate includes airfare that cruise lines often don’t, along with breakfast and a stay at a Caribbean property that’s a 10-minute walk to the beach. Travelers as part of this deal are also provided free access to Atlantis Resort & Hotel and its spa, water park and casino, and children ages 12 and younger at Comfort Suites stay free. At the adults-only all-inclusive Riu Palace Jamaica on Montego Bay’s Mahoe Bay Beach, three nights including air, meals and activities is as low as $599.

Cheap Rates and Departure Dates

Cheap Caribbean travel rates are typically offered as departure dates near and vacant cabins or hotel rooms need to be filled. At other times, travel wholesalers purchase cabins and hotel rooms in bulk so that they – and travelers booking through them – pay lower rates. In this instance, cheap Caribbean rates are also restricted for travel between August and October, which is generally considered peak hurricane season in the region and the time when the most powerful storms tend to form.

Cheap Caribbean Cruises during Hurricane Season

The magic starting rate this year for Caribbean cruises is around $159. Carnival in mid-August advertised four-day eastern and western Caribbean cruises starting at $159 for August, September or October travel aboard the Victory from Miami to Freeport and Nassau, Bahamas. Travelers for $159 could also sail the Norwegian Sky from Miami to Freeport, Grand Bahama Island, Nassau and Great Stirrup Cay.

Longer vacations with more diverse itineraries start at about $359 for a seven-night Carnival Conquest cruise to Miami and western Caribbean ports of call such as Cozumel, Belize, Roatan, Honduras and Grand Cayman. Travelers won’t necessarily get cabins or rooms with views at budget hurricane season rates, but it’s often possible to tack on an oceanview for another $40 or so. Caribbean travelers who aboard the Celebration who stay at the Grand Lucayan Beach & Golf Resort, Pelican Bay, Island Seas Resort or the all-inclusive Viva Wyndham Resort in the Bahamas can find four-night prices starting less than $200.

Hurricanes can form at any time during the year, but they generally happen between June 1 and November 30. Caribbean cruise ship passengers who cancel travel because of hurricanes typically aren’t provided refunds. Cruise ships monitor weather, and captains are able to reroute them in instances of emergency. So those expecting to travel the eastern Caribbean and re-routed to the western Caribbean shouldn’t expect to receive any type of reimbursement – though some cruise lines provide onboard credit in instances where one Caribbean port isn’t substituted by another.

“. . .the vast majority of voyages operate as scheduled and, even if we do have to modify an itinerary, oftentimes it can be as simple as reversing the order of ports or finding an alternate destination for our guests to enjoy,” Carnival Cruise Lines Public Relations Manager Aly Bello-Cabreriza said. “We do everything possible to deliver the vacation experience that our guests are looking forward to and closely monitor the storm’s path to maintain a safe and comfortable distance and provide a fun, memorable vacation.”

Vacation Travel Cancellations due to Hurricanes & Travel Insurance

When air lines and cruise companies cancel, delay or interrupt service to the Caribbean, a good third-party travel insurance plan backed by a government agency can often reimburse travelers beyond what the companies themselves pay. Travel insurance from providers such as Allianz costs about 5 to 7 percent of what travelers pay for their vacations and reimburses pre-paid non-refundable travel deposits when customers have to cancel or interrupt their Caribbean vacations for specific reasons, Allianz Communications Director Dan Durazo said.

One problem with travel insurance and Caribbean hurricanes is that the insurance covers unexpected events, and hurricanes can be predicted weeks in advance. Allianz customers who buy travel insurance for a Caribbean vacation before a hurricane is named, for example, might be covered if the carrier or tour operator stops all services for at least 24 consecutive hours where they’re departing, arriving or making a connection, if the traveler’s home or destination become uninhabitable or if the excursion is delayed or for other covered reasons, according to Durazo. Experts recommend reading the fine print. Some say that the best time to buy travel insurance is just before travel – or within 24 hours after the final travel payment due date.

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About Author: Michelle Sheldone

Michelle Sheldone is an award-winning writer and the author of "Historic Walking Guides: Florida Keys." She launched her career at Family Circle magazine, where she worked as an entertainment editor. She has since contributed to newspapers, magazines and travel guides and handled marketing for government, education, travel, hospitality, fashion and conservation interests.