This hurricane season has been exceptionally bad, with storms hammering the Caribbean and southern United States since mid-August.
Hurricane season lasts June through November, with the height of the season mid-August to mid-September. Find out how your travel is affected post-hurricane season, and what to do if you have travel planned in the imminent future. We have a complete list, country-by-country of travel advisories, cancellations, and resort updates to keep you informed.
HURRICANE MARIA: Cancellation and change policies
Hurricane Maria was a category 3 hurricane that followed the wake of Hurricane Irma, making landfall on several Caribbean islands mid-September. The National Hurricane Center had warnings, watches and advisories out for islands along Maria’s path, including: Puerto Rico, the northern coast of the Dominican Republic, and Turks & Caicos.
The damage to the Dominican Republic was not as bad as previously expected – Maria left fallen trees in her path, but no serious structural damage to resorts or infrastructure.
Hurricane Maria travel advisories:
Updated October 10, 2017 at 9:48 a.m. EST.
Air Canada Vacations travel advisory
Customers who had planned to travel between September 18 and September 24, 2017 may re-book an alternate Air Canada Vacations package by October 15, 2017 for travel until April 30, 2018.
Antigua, Barbados, Fort de France, Guadeloupe, St. Lucia:
Customers with travel planned for these areas between September 18 and September 20, 2017 may re-book an alternate Air Canada Vacations package by October 15, 2017 for travel until April 30, 2018.
Air Canada Vacations has implemented their goodwill policy for anyone with a booking within the path of the hurricane. More information on destinations, travel dates, and re-booking dates, here:
|Affected Airport||Ticket issued no later than||Original travel date||Rebook free of charge|
|Antigua (ANU), Bridgetown (BGI), Fort-de-France (FDF), Pointe-à-Pitre (PTP), St. Lucia (UVF) Port-au-Prince (PAP)||September 17, 2017||Between September 17 and September 20, 2017||Until October 12, 2017|
|Samana (AZS), Puerto Plata (POP), Punta Cana (PUJ)||September 17, 2017||Between September 17 and September 24, 2017||Until October 12, 2017|
More information on Air Canada’s policy regarding Hurricane Maria can be found here.
Transat travel advisory
Clients who had travel planned to the Dominican Republic until September 22, 2017 can chose to travel at a later date at no additional cost, or cancel their booking and obtain a full refund in credit vouchers.
WestJet Vacations travel advisory
A tropical storm warning has been announced for Bridgetown, Barbados; St. Maarten; St. Lucia; Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago; the Caribbean, and a hurricane warning for the Dominican Republic.
Flexible change and cancel rules have been implemented for guests who had travel plans to/from these cities between September 16 and September 25, 2017.
HURRICANE IRMA: What happens next? A country-by-country guide
Updated October 19, 9:02 a.m. EST.
There wasn’t much calm before this storm, as airlines and tour operators rushed to bring travellers back home to Canada before Hurricane Irma hit the Caribbean and Florida, leaving a trail of destruction in her path.
The category 5 hurricane, which meteorologists called the most powerful Atlantic hurricane outside the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean seas, tore through St. Maarten, Barbuda, Puerto Rico, Turks & Caicos, and parts of Cuba, while other vacation hotspots such as the Dominican Republic were left seemingly untouched. Travel agents and tour operators scrambled to re-book clients ahead of the storm, and our customer service team continues to work to stay on top of each change and update coming from the islands.
Guide to travel post-Hurricane Irma:
Our travel agents have been gathering information from tour operators, directly from resorts and hotel chains, and from the Caribbean Tourism Organization and the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association, regarding the state of each destination following Hurricane Irma. Check on the drop down for your destination to view an update:
Antigua and Barbuda
Antigua was minimally impacted with no hotel closures as a direct resort of Hurricane Irma, while Barbuda was severely hit by the storm. Approximately 90% of homes were destroyed, and many hotels were damaged.
Reports from resorts on the islands, are as follows:
- Carlisle Bay: Resort was closed at time of hurricane; did not sustain significant damage. Will re-open for season on October 15.
- Curtain Bluff: Resort was closed for renovation during hurricane, and sustained no damage. Will re-open for season on October 28.
- Cocos Hotel: No long-term damage
- Galley Bay: An in-depth assessment of the property has not yet taken place
- Hermitage Bay: No serious damage
- Jumby Bay Island: No structural damage to the resort. Jumby Bay Island was closed for annual maintenance during hurricane, and will re-open on October 9.
- Keyonna Beach Resort: No long-term damage
- Pineapple Beach Club: Scheduled to welcome guests beginning September 14
- Sandals Grande Antigua: Sustained superficial damage, but a complete assessment has not yet taken place. The resort will remain closed for maintenance and Irma clean-up until December 20.
- James Club: Scheduled to welcome guests starting September 14
- Verandah: Will re-open as scheduled, following planned renovations, on October 14
The Islands of the Bahamas are resuming business as usual, as Nassau and Paradise Island did not sustain serious damage. Nassau and Grand Bahama Island airports are re-opened with international flights resuming, including service to some Florida airports. Ports have also re-opened.
- Atlantis, Paradise Island: Remained open during Hurricane Irma and continues to welcome guests
- Warwick Paradise Island: Remained open during Hurricane Irma and continues to welcome guests
- Sandals Royal Bahamian: Open
- Baha Mar Resort and Casino: Resumed full hotel, casino, and retail operations on September 12
- Melia Nassau Beach Resort: Open
- One & Only Ocean Club: Open
- Sandals Emerald Bay: Open
More information on the other islands and hotels and services can be found on the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism and Aviation website, here.
British Virgin Islands
Assessment of damage done to the islands continues, with the priority of the BVI Tourist Board being safe transportation of visitors out of the territory.
- Virgin Gorda: Tourist board office located at Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbour has hours of 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. A curfew remains in effect from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
- Tortola: Tourist board office on Tortola is not currently operating. Those requiring assistance should visit the National Emergency Operations Center, operating out of the Peebles Hospital in Road Town.
Updates from individual hotels in the British Virgin Islands are as follows:
- Anegada Reef: Everything is fine
- Bitter End Yacht Club: Hotel was nor operational, due to annual closure
- Guana Island: Closed at the time; all guests and on-island staff are safe.
- Rosewood Little Dix Bay: Currently closed for renovation, so no guests were present during Hurricane Irma
- Scrub Island: Part of the Autograph Collection is closed until further notice
- Sugar Mill Hotel: Hotel suffered some damage but expected to open mid-October
The northern portion of Cuba was hit hard by Hurricane Irma, and many travel advisories remain for Cayo Coco, Cayo Santa Maria, Havana, and other areas on the northern coast. Flooding and power outages have made the situation in Cuba more difficult. See travel advisories for more information on flights returning to Cuba.
The Havana Times information site reported that the roads to/from the Varadero airport and to the hotel area are severely blocked by debris, fallen trees, and electrical poles. Many Varadero hotels are running on power generators.
A summary of resorts in the Varadero area is as follows:
- Blau Marina Varadero: serious damage due to location on tip of peninsula. Main building suffered serious damage to roof, and the beach eroded due to waves
- Melia Marina Varadero: Some damage to rooms (ie. broken windows), and damage to lobby
- Grand Memories Varadero: Hotel suffered some damage due to winds; access to beach is virtually blocked
- Memories Varadero: Generally in good condition
- Royalton Hicacos: Suffered major damage. Beach area eroded due to waves
- Iberostar Varadero: Hotel was severely affected
- Be Live Turquesa: Hotel was evacuated so a proper inspection has not been possible
- Playa de Oro: Restaurant is running and providing food service; broken windows in several rooms and lobby had notable damage
- ROC Arenas Doradas: Hotel seemed in good condition
- Melia Las Antillas: Hotel in generally good condition
- Melia Peninsula Varadero: Evacuated as precaution; decision made to keep it closed for time being to restore all services
- Paradisus Varadero: Temporarily closed to carry out renovations before high season
- Starfish Varadero: Generally in good condition
- Briases del Caribe: Rooms were badly damaged
- Iberostar Laguna Azul: Partial damage to roof of restaurant
- Starfish Cuatro Palmas: Hotel was evacuated; some structural damage noticeable
Transat released information regarding their resorts in the Varadero area, noting the following are currently closed (as of September 19, 2017):
- Be Live Experience Turquesa
- Gran Caribe Punrarena Playa Caleta
- Club Karey
- Club Tropical
- Villa Jibacoa
- Gran Caribe Sun Beach
- Iberostar Playa Alameda
- Los Delfines
- Mar del Sur
- Melia Peninsula
- Ocean Patriarca
- Paradisus Varadero
Sunwing released information early October, that 95% of their Varadero resorts have re-opened and are safe for visitors, with no infrastructural damage. Sunwing released information that their Cayo Santa Maria resorts will open throughout November, as per the list:
Expected to re-open November 1:
- Dhawa Cayo Santa Maria
- Melia Las Dunas
- Memories Pariaso
- Sanctuary at Grand Memories Santa Maria
- Grand Memories Santa Maria
- Valentine Perla Blanca
- Melia Cayo Santa Maria
- IBEROSTAR Ensenachos
Expected to re-open November 15:
- Melia Buenavista
- Royalton Cayo Santa Maria
- Golden Tulip Aguas Claras Resort
- Playa Cayo Santa Maria
- Sol Cayo Santa Maria
- Starfish Cayo Santa Maria
- Warwick Cayo Santa Maria
Sunwing will resume flight service to Cayo Santa Maria on Nov. 10 with flights from Montreal; Toronto and Quebec on Nov. 11; Calgary and Edmonton Nov. 15; Ottawa Nov. 17; Vancouver, Regina, Saskatoon and Bagotville Dec. 13; Winnipeg Dec. 22; Halifax Jan. 11; Fredericton Feb. 13.
*Melia Cuba released a statement on September 14 noting that the Melia hotels in Havana, Holguin, Santiago de Cuba and Cayo Largo are fully operational. All guests and employees were unharmed during Hurricane Irma. Resorts in Varadero are being cleaned up and expect to be operational by September 16.
We have not received a complete list of information on resorts in Cayo Coco, and other northern parts of the island.
Did not suffer serious damage, or the eye of the storm, during Hurricane Irma.
- AMResorts: Experienced no damage to any properties, and all resorts are fully functional
- Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts in Punta Cana: Fully operational and welcoming guests
- Riu Hotels: All 6 hotels in Punta Cana are operating normal services; 2 hotels in Puerto Plata are fully operational
- Barcelo Resorts: Barcelo Hotel Group confirmed all of the brand’s resorts are fully operational
- Viva Wyndham Playa Dorada: Hotel is open and operating
The majority of the hotels, sites, and attractions have resumed regular operations this week. The Puerto Rico Tourism Company reports that nearly all hotels are operational and receiving guests.
Marriott hotels including the San Juan Marriott, Sheraton Puerto Rico hotel and AC Hotel by Marriott welcomed approximately 700 guests from St. Thomas, St. Maarten and St. John. El Consquistador Resort, the Melia Coco Beach, Hotel El Convento and all Marriott and Hilton properties on the island, among others, are also in full operation.
Updates from individual hotels are as follows:
- Condado Plaza Hilton: Minor damage
- El Conquistador: Operational
- El San Juan Hotel: Hotel received minimal damage
- Hotel El Convento: Hotel escaped damage and resumed operations on September 11
- Hyatt House San Juan: Hotel is open and operating
- Hyatt Place Bayamon: Open and operating
- Hyatt Place Manati: Open and operating
- Hyatt Place San Juan City Center: Open and operating
- Hyatt Residence Club Dorado: Open and operating
- Intercontinental San Juan: Business as usual
- Rincon Beach: Open for business
- Royal Islabela, a destination hotel: Open and accepting guests
- San Juan Water Beach Club Hotel: Sustained no damage, have full power, and open for business
- Wyndham Garden at Palmas del Mar: Open and operating
- Wyndham Grand Rio Mar: Sustained minimal damage, but is currently open
St. Maarten & St. Martin
The clean up of St Maarten continues with the help of both Dutch and French armies. A curfew remains in effect from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m.
The St. Maarten airport is still closed to commercial flights, and a date on when operations will resume has not yet been set. Ports of Marigot are damaged and Port of Philipsburg has seen canceled cruises through the remainder of 2017.
The recovery effort continues on the islands.
- Beach Plaza: Badly damaged
- Belair Beach Hotel: Sustained damage and will take time to repair; phone service and Internet down
- Esmeralda Resort: Hotel 70% destroyed
- Hotel Mercure: Damaged
- La Playa Orient Bay: Severely damaged. The hotel was undergoing a renovation project prior to Irma and due to the impact, reopening is postponed until further notice
- La Samanna: Assessing damage but will remain closed for remainder of the year
- La Vista Hotel: The Beach building is in relatively decent shape; the roof tiles came off but the roof itself in there. Some water damage and missing doors and windows
- Oyster Bay Beach Resort: Significant damage
- Princess Heights: Minor damage
- Riu Palace St. Martin: Infrastructures severely affected
- Summit Resort Hotel: Due to extensive damage, the Summit Resort will remain closed
- Westin Dawn Beach: Suffered significant damage. The resort is closed until further notice
- Sonesta: Resort damage is severe. All reservations through the end of 2017 have been cancelled
The majority of the hotels on French St. Martin also sustained damage, and are not expected to reopen in the 2017 season.
Turks & Caicos
The airport in Providenciales re-opened for scheduled flights on September 11.
Several hotels on the islands were closed for annual closure prior to Hurricane Irma, and some properties have decided to remain closed to assess damage. They are expected to re-open mid-October 2017.
Specific hotel information:
- Club Med Turkoise: Working with airlines to transports guests home on first available flights. Full assessment of the resort has not been made. Not accepting new guests until September 30
- Beaches Turks and Caicos: Will begin accepting guests on December 14
- Alexandra Resort, Blue Haven Resort and Beach House: Resorts sustained some wind and water damage due to the storm, and will be closed until October 8
- Gansevoort Turks & Caicos: Accepting guests starting November 1
- The Palms Resort, The Shore Club on Long Bay Beach and Seven Stars Resort & Spa: Open
U.S. Virgin Islands
*U.S. Virgin Islands include St. Croix, St. John, and St. Thomas
Henry E. Rohlsen Airport on St. Croix is open and fully operational. The Cyril E. King Airport on St. Thomas received extensive damage and is only open to emergency relief flights.
All seaports on St. Croix are open and fully operational; all seaports in the St. Thomas/St. John district are open, however service between Cruz Bay, St. John and Red Hook, St. Thomas is limited to daylight hours only.
The following updates have been shared by individual properties in the U.S. Virgin Islands:
- The Buccaneer: Open for business. Facilities are in good shape, but there may be some limitation of services over the next few days.
- Club Comanche Hotel St. Croix: Open and accepting guests
- Hotel Caravelle: The hotel is open and accepting guests
- Hotel on the Cay: The resort is open
- Caneel Bay: Complete power outage at the resort
- Westin St. John Resort Villas: The resort and the surrounding areas experienced some damage. As of 11 September, Marriott International has advised the resort is closed until further notice
- Bluebeard’s Castle Resort: Sustained major damage
- Bolongo Bay Beach Resort: According to its Facebook page, the resort anticipates welcoming guests on November 12
- Frenchman’s Reef & Morning Star Marriott Beach Resort: As of September 11, Marriott International has advised the resort is closed until further notice
- Margaritaville Vacation Club:. Recovery efforts to begin
- Point Pleasant Resort: Currently assessing damage, and will share new information when available
- Ritz-Carlton, St. Thomas: As of September 11, Marriott International has advised the resort is closed until further notice. Those planning to visit the hotel should check the news for the most current information and amend their travel plans accordingly
- Secret Harbour Beach Resort: No major structural damage to the buildings. The generator is still working
- Sugar Bay Resort & Spa: The damage is being assessed and an update will be provided when available
- Windward Passage: Will close for six months
Unless you have plans to travel in the imminent future to a destination that is still under Hurricane Irma travel advisory, your travel plans for the winter 2017-2018 travel season should be able to continue as planned. Both tour operators and resorts are working hard to re-book and re-accommodate all reservations that were made for the period following the hurricane that falls under travel advisories and cancellations.
Air Canada announced on September 15 they are planning to send 25 Product Specialists from Montreal and Toronto to assess the resorts in Turks & Caicos, Cuba, and several other destinations to ensure hotels receiving guests meet the company’s precise quality standards.
Although some destinations may not be suitable for travel immediately, they will be in the near future. One of the best ways we can help these areas recover is to continue to visit and support them with our tourism dollars.
HURRICANE IRMA ADVISORIES AND CANCELLATIONS:
Updated October 10, 2017 at 10:08 a.m. EST.
Each tour operator has different policies regarding cancellations and change in dates or itineraries for travel. Click your tour operator below to see the policy affecting your travel:
Air Canada Vacations Hurricane Policy
Air Canada and Air Canada Vacations Hurricane Policy
Flights to Cayo Coco, Cayo Guillermo, Santa Clara, and Cayo Santa Maria, Cuba are cancelled until Oct. 31, 2017. Your file will automatically be eligible for rebooking at a later date. Affected travellers were eligible to re-book an alternate Air Canada Vacations package by Oct. 1, 2017 for travel to be completed by April 30, 2018.
Goodwill policy in effect for customers with Air Canada ticket purchased prior to Sept. 4, 2017 with a flight to or via:
|Affected Airport||Ticket issued no later than||Original travel date||Rebook free of charge from now|
|Samaná El Catey (AZS) Puerto Plata (POP), Dominican Republic Punta Cana (PUJ), Dominican Republic||September 4, 2017||Between September 4 and September 8, 2017||Until October 1, 2017|
|Antigua (ANU) Fort-de-France (FDF), Martinique Pointe-à-Pitre (PTP), Guadeloupe Port-au-Prince (PAP). Haïti Santa Clara (SNU), Cuba||September 4, 2017||Between September 4 and September 12, 2017||Until October 16, 2017|
|Nassau (NAS), Bahamas Providenciales (PLS), Turks and Caicos Great Exuma (GGT), Bahamas Havana (HAV), Cuba Holguín (HOG), Cuba Varadero (VRA), Cuba Cayo Coco (CCC), Cuba||September 4, 2017||Between September 4 and September 12, 2017||Until October 16, 2017|
|Any airport in Florida||September 4, 2017||Between September 4 and September 17, 2017||Until October 16, 2017|
|Atlanta (ATL) Savannah (SAV) Charlotte (CLT) Raleigh Durham (RDU)||September 7, 2017||Between September 7 and September 17, 2017||Until October 16, 2017|
Hola Sun Hurricane Policy
Hola Sun and Caribe Sol Hurricane Policy
Customers who planned to travel to Cayo Coco and Santa Clara between now and Oct. 31, please note all flights are cancelled.
Sunquest Vacations Hurricane Policy
Sunquest Vacations Hurricane Policy
Contact your travel agent for available options.
Sunwing Vacations Hurricane Policy
Flights to Cayo Coco, Camaguey, and Cayo Santa Maria will resume on November 1. Passengers due to depart for Cuba during these dates have the option to re-book or change destination as per Sunwing’s hurricane policy.
All Sunwing flights from Toronto and Montreal to St. Maarten are cancelled until April 30, 2018. Sunwing has added additional flying on the same day of travel, from Toronto to Montego Bay and Montreal to Cancun in order to offer customers more options. Customers who booked with their travel agent are encouraged to contact them directly to make arrangements.
Flights to Nassau, Bahamas have not been affected and will begin their seasonal schedule on November 2.
Transat Hurricane Policy
Flights to Cayo Coco and Cayo Santa Maria, Cuba have been cancelled until Oct. 31, 2017.
Transat has increased capacity on flights to Mexico and the Dominican Republic throughout September and October.
Transat’s hurricane policy was implemented for flights scheduled to depart to the Dominican Republic (Punta Cana, Puerto Plata, Samana, La Romana); Haiti (Port au Prince) until September 11, and Cuba (Varadero, Cayo Coco, Santa Clara, Holguin); Florida (Fort Lauderdale, Orlando) until September 16. Customers affected by these flight cancellations will all be contacted and may (i) travel at a later date; (ii) travel to another destination, subject to certain conditions; (iii) cancel with full refund (excluding travel insurance costs when purchased).
WestJet Vacations Hurricane Policy
Flexible change and cancellation rules are in effect for:
- Santa Clara, Cuba; Cayo Coco, Cuba; St. Maarten for guests booked prior to Sept. 12, 2017 for travel until Dec. 31, 2017.
- Providenciales, Turks and Caicos; Varadero, Cuba; Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, USA; Florida for guests booked prior to Sept. 12, 2017 for travel until Sept. 30, 2017.
More information on WestJet and Hurricane Irma advisories can be found here.
DONATE TO HURRICANE IRMA & MARIA RELIEF
HOW DOES TRAVEL INSURANCE WORK DURING A HURRICANE?
While travel insurance is a good idea any time of year, for any vacation, it is especially important during hurricane season. Further, without the time and added touch of working with a travel agent, travellers may find themselves experiencing added frustration on top of cancelled or delayed trips.
When booking with a travel agent, and dealing with the aftermath of hurricanes, the back-and-forth with hurricane policies, hurricane travel advisories, wait-times for re-booking options and available trips are taken care of: the traveller simply has to decide on an alternate destination or date, oftentimes is required to pay a difference in cost of the original trip, while the travel agent handles the rest.
Travel insurance must be bought when you book your vacation – hearing news of a hurricane on the horizon isn’t the time to try to protect yourself and your trip so you don’t lose money and that precious all-inclusive week away. The majority of travel insurance policies with trip cancellation and trip interruption coverage will reimburse your prepaid, non-refundable expenses lost as a result of cancelling your trip to due severe weather, or “acts of God.” For private plans, the rule is generally once a hurricane has been named, you cannot buy travel insurance against that storm.
When booking your vacation, your travel agent will be able to run through the travel insurance policies with you. And though cancelling, changing destination, or delaying your vacation due to a hurricane is indeed frustrating, just remember that your travel agent is also frustrated. Luckily, our advanced system allows us to pull a list of exactly which customers are in which destination on which dates, so we can call travellers with cancellations, advisories, and options in a priority order.
On September 11, our tripcentral.ca travel agents received almost 2,000 calls from customers. We usually expect this number of calls during our high season when people are booking vacations. This week, our calls have been of another nature.
No one wins in this situation. Our customers are inconvenienced and our agents are trying to absorb re-booking policies from multiple suppliers, often on hold for hours per booking. Our tour operator suppliers are busy trying to get accurate information on the ground about the condition of hotels, and the expected time frame for cleanup and repairs for safe and enjoyable arrival of our customers. Tour operators and airlines have sent relief flights and absorbed that cost to ensure the safety of their customers. The time and money losses are very high, and meanwhile, customers inquiring for departures further in the future are suffering from slower response times from our agents – who are swamped with the re-booking. Of course, all of this pales in comparison to the losses suffered by the residents where the hurricane hit, and the economic impact of the disruption in tourism and cleanup/repair costs. There are no winners.
We appreciate your patience and understanding as we all work to find solutions to get travellers stranded in destination back home, and have travellers whose flights are cancelled re-booked.