While I have a list of about 7 posts I want to write about our recent Eastern Caribbean Cruise on the Carnival Valor, I thought I should start with the one we’ve gotten the most questions about-cruising in Hurricane Joaquin or Joe-uh-quinn as our captain pronounced it.
Let me start off by saying:
Yes-we knew it was hurricane season.
Yes-we knew a storm was a possibility.
Yes-we have cruised in a hurricane before.
On our first cruise in 2004, my husband and I were on the Carnival Imagination on a 4 night cruise out of Miami. Hurricane Frances was making her way to Florida and the port of Miami and the airport were closed down. Our 4 night cruise became a 7 night cruise. Carnival kept us safe, fed and entertained. We spent a few days 30 miles south of Cuba away from the storm and then headed back to Miami after the storm passed.
This was our 6th cruise, all during hurricane season, we always vacation in September/October, its what works in our schedule. A few days into the cruise we heard about Hurricane Joaquin on the news. It was supposed to turn north and not really bother us. On Wednesday the captain informed us that we would not be stopping at Grand Turk the next day due to the storm’s track. We were sad but we understood. Within about an hour all port fees and excursion fees for Grand Turk were already credited back to our accounts.
When we awoke Thursday the seas were choppy and it was windy out. After breakfast we settled at a table on the aft Lido deck, sheltered by a partial roof and played Phase 10 Dice for a few hours. After lunch the seas got choppier and the winds picked up. Hubby and I headed to our cabin for an afternoon nap. When we woke up and tried to go out on the open deck, there were signs warning us the deck was closed due to high winds. I headed to our son, Aaron’s cabin because he had a window and a balcony and I wanted to see the sea for myself. By this time we were starting to pitch pretty well, forward and back, forward and back, at times it was tricky to walk down the hallways. After a bit I headed to my cabin to get dressed for dinner.
Hubby wasn’t feeling well when I returned and said he might not make it to dinner. As I was dressing, I heard him in the bathroom getting ill. A few minutes later, I went into the bathroom to do my makeup and I too got ill. We texted Aaron and asked him to bring the Dramamine to our cabin, neither of us were going to make it to dinner. I changed out of my dinner clothes, put a cold cloth over my eyes and went to sleep for about 4 hours.
From what we’ve been told 4 out of our group of 14 didn’t make it to dinner and a few others didn’t make it through the entire meal. The wait staff were having a very difficult time carrying the trays of food and the guests were applauding them as they served the meal.
At about 10pm I woke up feeling hungry. I ventured out to the coffee bar to get a chocolate milkshake. By now the seas were still rough but not as bad as they had been. When I returned to the cabin my hubby was not there, he had gone for an ice cream cone. We headed back to bed and awoke the next morning to winds and choppy seas but they calmed down as the morning went on.
During the height of the storm we lost satellite TV and had to rely on our friends back home to send us maps of where the storm was-so thankful for Facebook in this situation. Aaron created this graphic and it caught the attention of WFLA news in Tampa, which did a piece on our trip after we returned home.
Aaron also did a radio interview at The Joy FM, where he works. Here is that audio.
Carnival and our captain did the best they could to keep us out of the storm. Joaquin didn’t play by the rules. All reports had him turning back to the north hours before he did. This left us pinned between the storm and Hispanola and later Cuba.
Even though we had a rough 24 hours, it didn’t dampen the fun we had on our cruise. It just gave us more stories to tell.