I have been on a number of cruises where ports have been cancelled due to bad weather. This usually means that the weather is making it too dangerous for the ship to get into port or it would mean sailing through a storm to get there. It is one of the downsides of cruising sadly! Your itinerary is never set in stone.

When a port is cancelled there are generally two options:

  1. You have another sea day.The ship will generally just sail slower to the next port or may take a slight detour if they are looking to avoid a storm. This can mean that you end up on many sea days in a row which I do not particularly like, for me anything more than a couple of days at sea and I’m wanting to get off and go and explore.
  2. A substitute port may be made at last minute.This happened to me recently when I was on a Greek island cruise, the port of Mykonus was substituted with Heraklion. There are many other reasons why you may have a substitute port than bad weather, including political unrest or a certain port being full at the time.

On some cruises you will have to tender into port, this happens when a port is too small for the cruise ship to fit into. When this happens the ship anchors in a deeper part of the harbour and you get on a smaller boat to get to the port. Ports like this are at a higher risk of being cancelled as the smaller boats can’t safely take people back and forward from the ship in bad weather. To learn more about tendering click here: What is cruise ship tendering?

ncl norwegian getaway tender belize


Not going to lie it is a bit of a bummer when your plans are changed, however this is one of the risks you take when cruising. If you have excursions booked these will be refunded however there is no other form of compensation (or not that I know about!) Excursions booked independently will not be refunded by the cruise line although if you are able to cancel you may get some of your money back. Some travel insurance policies will give you compensation for missed ports, it you have brought specific cruise cover. The last travel insurance policy I brought offered £50 per missed port (no ports cancelled/changed on this cruise though!)

The priority of cruise ships always has to be for the safety of its staff and guests. I’m sure it is a case of better safe than sorry in a lot of situations. Personally I would prefer to have a change of port than a miserable trip on a rocky ship through bad weather. Having said that it still must have been annoying for the guests on board the Anthem of the seas who recently had their cruise ended two days early because of a storm…

If you’re worried about getting seasick in bad weather read about how I cope here: I get seasick stepping over a puddle.

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Hey! I'm Emma. A cruise blogger, YouTuber and founder of the 'Cruising Isn't Just For Old People' Facebook community.


  1. Companies don’t have to compensate for missed ports (Ts&Cs) but it may be worth raising the issue. We were on one where we missed one, had one shortened – all due to safety so understandable but since there were couple of other small niggles I wrote to customer relations anyway – got future cruise credit $100 which they kindly converted to OBC since I had another sailing booked. If you don’t ask, you don’t get 😉

  2. Pingback: 4 reasons why your itinerary may change | Cruising isn't just for old people

  3. Michael Davis Reply

    We booked an Eastern Caribbean itinerary on the Oasis prior to the hurricanes that devastated St. Maarten and Puerto Rico this year. In an odd move, Royal Caribbean waited until there was less than a month to the sail date before even addressing it to those booked. It turns out it’ll now be a Western Caribbean itinerary with only Labadee, Haiti remaining the same. So that was unusual for us. Still a welcome change really as we’ve sailed that direction far fewer times.
    I also found it fascinating to read about how the cruise lines and passengers handled changes to the originating and ending ports earlier this year. That seems as though it could provide insurmountable problems for both sides. Thankfully, those are rare circumstances.

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