Hurricane Florence Path Forces Cruise to Switch Destinations From Bermuda to Canada

Hurricane Florence's wrath forced a cruise line to switch its destination from Bermuda to various northern locations in Canada, drawing the ire of passengers, who paid for a tropical vacation.

Norwegian Cruise Line announced on Twitter that the ship, Norwegian Dawn, which departed on schedule on Friday from Boston would no longer sail to its original destination of Bermuda because of Hurricane Florence. Instead of Bermuda, the ship would sail north to Halifax and Sydney, in Nova Scotia; St. John, New Brunswick; and Bar Harbor, Maine.

"The safety and security of our guests and crew is always our top priority," the cruise line tweeted.

The cruise's justification that the move was to keep passengers safe did little to soothe the disappointment and outrage inconvenienced travelers felt at the change in itinerary.

We paid more for Bermuda cruise. Canadian cruises on Norwegian Dawn are listed as $350 online. @CruiseNorwegian is still charging us Bermuda rates. Ripoff!

— Gaurav Chatterjee (@pkowian) September 7, 2018

The Dawn wasn't the only ship Norwegian Cruise Line rerouted and the Norwegian Escape, departing from New York City for Bermuda on Sunday, also had a change in its itinerary. Instead of Bermuda, the ship would make stops in Port Canaveral, Florida; Nassau, Bahamas; and Great Stirrup Cay, which is a private island owned by the cruise line.

Passenger Margaret Holmes acknowledged on Facebook that the weather was to blame for the change in the itinerary, but she said that she has no desire to go to any of the new places. She booked the trip through Expedia and was informed that if they cancel the trip, only a portion of the cost would be refunded.

hurricane florence norwegian cruise line outrage
An image of Hurricane Florence is captured from space. Norwegian Cruise Line changed the itinerary of two of its ships in an effort to avoid Hurricane Florence’s path. NASA

Switching to a different date would result in an additional charge of about $750 per person, despite the website offering the cruise for new bookings at a dollar less.

"From my point of view it is Norwegian who has canceled the sailing," Holmes wrote on Facebook. "Yes, the ship is still sailing…but not to Bermuda."

While some passengers of the 2,000-passenger ship were upset with the itinerary change, one woman tweeted that she's been on a Norwegian cruise during a hurricane and had a horrible experience.

"It was a nightmare," the tweet said. "I wish our captain redirected our itinerary."

Newsweek reached out to Norwegian Cruise Line but did not receive a response in time for publication. Norwegian Cruise Line's passenger bill of rights states that passengers have the right to a full refund if a trip is canceled because of mechanical failures and a partial refund if the trip is terminated early because of mechanical failures. Itinerary changes are also addressed in the company's terms and conditions, which states that the company has the right to change the itinerary in the event of:

  • Strikes
  • Lockouts
  • Stoppages of labor
  • Riots
  • Weather conditions
  • Mechanical difficulties

In addition to those events, Norwegian Cruise Line added that itineraries can be changed for "any other reason whatsoever."

Hurricane Florence's strength has fluctuated, but on Friday, AccuWeather reported it's forecasted to gain force as it approaches Bermuda and the East Coast of the United States. The first Category 4 hurricane of the 2018 Atlantic season, Florence is expected to bring life-threatening swells to areas and strong wind speeds.