Dreams of your upcoming tropical cruise likely involve thoughts of relaxing, fruity drinks, and plenty of sunshine. But what happens when the forecast is revealing days and days of rain? If this is your first cruise your anxiety may be especially high and questions are swirling around mind. What will happen to your booked excursions? Will there be enough to do? Will the water slides be open?
I can speak on this topic firsthand. This past November, during my family’s first cruise together, we faced almost daily rain aboard our seven-day Western Caribbean cruise. It wasn’t a surprise because the forecast had shown non-stop rain for weeks on end before our departure.
Disappointing? Yes. End of the world? No.
Here are some tips for what to do if it rains during your cruise.
1. Plan for sea sickness. My family is fortunate that we aren’t prone to sea sickness. The first day my husband, feeling the rocking ship, asked me if it was normal. Honestly, I had never felt a ship rock like that first 24 hours. It ends up we weren’t the only ones who noticed. The first evening the ship was very quiet. Even the restaurants seemed empty. Our server told us that a mellow ship is typical when passing through rough waters because passengers tend to stay in their staterooms as they adjust (that’s where room service comes in handy). In our experience the ship did calm down after the initial storm and our ship was soon rocking from partying passengers rather than rainy weather. If you’re susceptible to sea sickness consider packing Dramamine, sea bands (bracelets with pressure points), or Quease Ease, and request a midship stateroom, all of which can help with your (hopefully temporary) bout of sea sickness.
2. Wear light layers. We departed out of Galveston, Texas, and it was chilly! Depending upon the time of year you will want to pack more or less in the layer department. The key is to check the weather of your embarkation city, cruise regions, and ports and take wind into consideration. For us, jackets and long sleeves were a must for departure day and the next day. It wasn’t until the second full day at sea, when we had traveled south, that the temps started to warm. Even then evenings had a nip in the air as we passed through rain showers.
3. Book excursions with your cruise line. Wind and rain on our cruise meant that every port had excursion cancellations. In fact, one port canceled every single excursion because the weather was so treacherous. However, I did learn that booking excursions with your cruise line is the way to go. Why? To start, as soon as the excursion is canceled passengers are refunded their money. This means no waiting, no arguing, no back and forth with a small company whom may or may not offer refunds. The other reason is cruise lines will not depart from a port if a cruise-hosted excursion is late returning to the ship. On the other hand, if you miss the ship because your non-cruise sponsored excursion is late…Hasta la vista, baby!
4. Pack rain gear. If plastic rain ponchos lasted more than five minutes my family would own quite a collection from our travels and that includes our most recent cruise. Since all excursions were canceled in Roatan on our port day, we decided to still get off the ship and explore the shops and walk down the paved beach paths.
Luckily, Carnival was selling rain ponchos ($3/each) before we stepped off the ship. It was a good thing, as the locals said we were experiencing the worst storm of the season. Indeed, let’s just say our umbrella flipped inside out and our backpacks still got soaked while under our rain gear. You can also arrive prepared by buying your own rain ponchos.
That didn’t stop us from seeking fun. At the end of the sidewalk was an outdoor beach restaurant and only yards away was the water. The kids ended up running into the ocean (the water was warmer than the air) fully dressed while Jeff and I ordered local ceviche, chips, and beer. To be honest, as the wind and rain was swirling around us we just laughed and laughed and said, “This is going to be one of our most memorable moments.”
Now “ceviche in the rain” is one of our favorite family sayings.
5. Check onboard ship activities. Worried about being bored on the ship? Don’t be. Passengers receive daily newsletters with a long list of onboard schedules and rain or shine activities. There are some fun things to do, from bingo to shows to games and don’t forget the many food options. And, yes, there’s a good chance that if it’s raining the water slides will be closed. In fact, gusty wind alone can shut down water attractions. My best advice is to check the water park area often once the rain and/or wind subsides.
6. Utilize the kids’ camp. Traveling with children? The kids’ camp was a godsend for us on rainy days. Our kids camp staff was outstanding and kept the kids wanting to return. There were no rainy-day stir crazy kids in our family. In fact, this option gave us adult time for relaxing and listening to live music in the bars.
7. Look for that silver lining. Perhaps this is a chance to have a good story to tell, an unexpected memory, or maybe you’re being protected from a nasty sunburn. Hey, there’s nothing wrong with optimist thinking is there?