When is hurricane season?
Hurricane season takes place from June through November (peaking in August to mid October), when tropical storms may develop in the Atlantic and eastern Pacific Oceans. We explain the risks of travelling during this time:
Why is it cheaper?
While Canadian winters are the most coveted season to voyage to the tropics, people still opt to travel from June through November for a range of reasons. Supply and demand control the pricing of travel. A combination of nice weather back home mixed with a good chance of rain in destination make resort prices less expensive than normal during the off season (or, spring, summer, and early fall).
People do book during the off time, however, because they are trying to save money or can finally take vacation time from work. Some brave the likelihood of some overcast weather and rain. They know they may experience lower rates, less crowded resorts, a quieter atmosphere, and sometimes, less activities and amenities. It is during this time that resorts complete renovations on things like restaurants, pools, and guestrooms, when they at not at full capacity.
Will I be safe?
During hurricane season, tour operators have your safety in mind. If there is risk of a hurricane, they will take the necessary precautions and decide whether or not your trip will continue. If you are scheduled to leave when there is a risk, the tour operator will make the judgment call. If the tour operator decides not to go, they will offer a credit or an alternate date to travel. If they decide to continue because it is safe, the customer does not get a refund if they decide not to go because of fear, nor if it is rainy during the duration of their vacation, since they decided to book during this time.
If there is a risk of a hurricane during your vacation, tour operators can pull you from the resort and fly you home mid-way through depending on the situation and safety. There is a greater risk of safety in destination for those going out on their own and taking excursions when a tropical storm approaches. If you’re on a cruise, the ship will change course and typically stay out at sea (unless there is another port available) before moving on as scheduled.
Some people are more comfortable booking island holidays outside the hurricane belt, to places like Aruba and the West Coast of Mexico where the risk is very unlikely. In general, vacationing at each end of hurricane season is less risky than the middle months.
Hurricane Season in Cuba
December through March are the popular tourist months for Cuba, also coinciding with the island’s dry season (November to April). Cuba’s wet season is May to October, with hurricane season peaking in August and September. Temperatures are great year round, ranging from highs of 26C in January and peaking at 31C in July and August. Hurricane season runs from June to November, though chances are slim.
Hurricane Season in Mexico
Hurricane season in Mexico is similar to that of the Caribbean, however rain affects the drier, northern parts of the country a bit less. It is more common for the Southern regions to receive short-lived tropical showers during the wet season. The Yucatan Peninsula and southern Pacific coast are the areas most affected by hurricane season in Mexico.
What are the policies?
Policies differ between tour operators, but here is a general idea based on Transat’s policy that covers hurricanes between June 1 and November 30:
If there is a Category 1 Hurricane advisory or higher for the destination city, or a hurricane has already passed through the hotel complex within one week of the scheduled departure date, these options are presented to the customer:
- Travel at a later date to the same destination, hotel, and room category.
- Travel to another city served by Transat (where it is safe) to a resort of equal value, wherever there is availability. If the package price is higher than the original booking, the client is responsible for paying the difference.
- Cancel the trip and receive a credit voucher for future travel which will be valid for one year following the date of the initial booking.
- Travel to the booked destination city if they still wish and if Transat is still flying there on the scheduled departure date. In this case, if clients choose to take the risk, there is no refund or compensation if the trip is interrupted due to a hurricane.
In the event of a hurricane, if clients are repatriated to Canada less than 48 hours after departure, they are eligible for a credit voucher valued at the cost of the unused days. If this occurs less than 48 hours after departure, clients will receive a credit voucher equivalent to the value of the trip.
Is it worth the risk?
There is definitely a financial gain if you book during hurricane season, with savings of at least 25% – but you’re taking a risk on your perfect vacation.
If you are reading this, you probably have concerns – although most people don’t even consider the risks of the season when booking. Know you will not be put into an unsafe situation by the tour operator on a vacation or a cruise.
You can usually get a feel for the weather conditions in advance. If you are debating between staying home in Puerto Backyarda and a taking a trip during hurricane season, it is best to book last minute and keep an eye on the weather to predict the forecast. But remember, while there may be even more savings if you book last minute, there is also the chance of your desired hotel being sold out.
Ultimately, if you’re willing to take the chance and weather the storm, you could secure yourself a great value vacation package if you book during hurricane season.
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.