Fall cruises are popular with many people due to them generally being slightly more affordable. Oftentimes, Florida residents can find fall sailings for up to 35% off prevailing rates.

While sailing in the fall can be quite attractive, it also comes with the risk of having to deal with unexpected tropical systems. Hurricane season officially starts June 1 and goes through November 30. While summer cruises can potentially be impacted by a hurricane or tropical storm, your risk of tropical systems increases as you enter the month of September.

Cruises in the Bahamas and the Caribbean tend to be the ones most at risk. I personally have attempted to take an Eastern Caribbean itinerary twice and both times have been unable due to a hurricane. Disney has the safety of its guests as a top priority and may have to make adjustments based on the projected formation or path of a tropical system.

What happens when a tropical system is present?

Disney closely monitors any tropical system that could have an impact on any of its active or upcoming cruise itineraries. The moment they believe a storm could impact one of their cruises, a banner will appear at the top of the official DCL website advising guests that they are monitoring the tropics. This is typically followed closely by an email to any impacted guests.

Changes to your impacted cruise can happen before you board or may occur during your sailing. Generally, Disney tries to avoid canceling a sailing but, if they don’t believe they can carry guests safely on their voyage, it can happen. Disney tries to make the decision to cancel a cruise as soon as possible so that guests have time to adjust their travel plans but the tropics don’t always give us advanced notice that they’re going to spin up a tropical system.

In the event of a cancellation, you are usually issued a full refund and a discount on a future cruise. This is an area in which having a travel agent, such as one of the fabulous Dreams Unlimited Travel agents, can be valuable. Rather than you having to wait on hold with Disney, your travel agent can handle booking your replacement cruise and applying refunded funds to your new cruise.

The more likely event to occur is a modification to your itinerary. Changes to your itinerary are mentioned as part of the cruise contract you sign when you complete your online check-in. The itinerary change may include a complete swap from an Eastern to a Western Caribbean (or vice versa) itinerary for example or could involve skipping single or multiple ports.

Adjusting Your Excursions

If the modifications to your sailing include a full change of itinerary or swapping ports, you’ll need to make reservations for excursions in the new port. Just as they do when your excursion booking window opens up prior to your sailing, popular excursions sell out quickly. Reserving your new excursions is one of the first things you want to do when you board the ship.

The Port Adventures desk on the Disney Fantasy

Your first option for booking new excursions is to visit the “Port Adventures” desk onboard the ship. Surprisingly, on my recent cruise on the Fantasy that was changed, the Port Adventures desk never really had a long line. At the start of the cruise, they will have several members of the crew there to help you navigate booking your new excursions.

Your second option for booking excursions onboard is using the Disney Cruise Line Navigator app on your smartphone. This seems to be the most popular option since it doesn’t involve waiting in line and can be done while you’re enjoying your lunch after you board the ship. While joined to the Disney Guest Wi-Fi, you simply select the “Add Plans” button at the bottom of the app and select “Port Adventures.”

From there you can select which port you wish to see the excursions for or you can view all the excursions at once. For me personally, I found looking at the individual days to be a little easier to look through.

Once you’ve selected what port you’d like to see excursions for, you can scroll through the list and tap on any of the excursions that spark your interest to learn more about what’s included and a description of it. Towards the bottom of the list, you will see the word “Unavailable” and a list of grayed-out excursions. These are excursions that have either sold out or are unavailable on your sailing. If there’s one you like that is showing unavailable, be sure to check the app again later or visit the Port Adventures desk to see if there have been any cancellations.

Other Considerations

If your cruise is sailing while the tropics are active, with or without a modification to your itinerary, the seas may be rougher than usual if a tropical system is near the area in which you are sailing. You may experience slightly more rocking of the ship and also more vibrations from the props in the aft areas of the ship. While sailing the Disney Fantasy during Hurricane Fiona being in the Atlantic Ocean, I experienced a significant amount of vibration the first two days in our aft room and also while dining in Palo for brunch.

Regardless of when you choose to sail, be prepared to be flexible. Disney has the safety of you, the guest, always at the forefront of these difficult decisions. While no one enjoys a significant change to their cruise, look on the bright side, you’re still getting to enjoy your beautiful Disney Cruise ship and the first class service onboard.

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