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Cruising in Hurricane Season with Lili

The ship posted this map at the main dining room to inform the passengers.

When you “Travel Like an Architect”™ you embrace new experiences. One of the most affordable locations to cruise is the Caribbean. The most affordable cruises can be taken in September to November during “Hurricane Season”. Embrace the experience, and you can have a great time while saving money. We were cruising in hurricane season with Lili – on our Honeymoon – 19 years ago!

In the Fall of October 1996, we spent seven days on board the Carnival Inspiration on an Eastern Caribbean cruise that included San Juan, St. Thomas, and St. Croix. From October 14th thru the 29th, Hurricane Lili formed providing us the excitement and experience of being “at sea” with a Hurricane. Our cruise started in Florida where it was cloudy, but warm. Our first two days were at sea, where Lynn tanned on deck, and Rob played in the pool, while we sailed to San Juan Puerto Rico. Our third day, and evening, was spent in sunny San Juan, Puerto Rico. The fourth day we lounged under a GORGEOUS blue sky, with just a hint of clouds, while Lynn had her hair braided on Coki beach in St. Thomas, VI. The fifth day we snorkeled in the warm, azure waters off St. Croix, VI. There was NO indication that Tropical Depression 12 was headed our way.

Upon returning from St. Croix, we went thru our evening ritual: we showered, dressed up, ate the scrumptious seven course meal in the fancy dining room, took in a show, and strolled the Promenade Deck, while gazing at stars, before retiring to our cabin. While at dinner our new Cruise Friends repeated the “rumors” that staff was boarding up windows because of the impending storm. Adding to the speculation was the supposed “routine checking” of life boats we witnessed on our nightly Promenade stroll. (This was the first, and ONLY time, to date, we have seen this routine check performed.) Upon returning to our room Lynn expressed concern about the rumors, and activities we had witnessed. Rob, assured her there was nothing to worry about while making the off hand comment that “It’s not like they are tying the deck chairs down.” To which Lynn replied “How do you know?” So…… around midnight we went up to the pool deck only to find the crew tying the deck chairs down. We went to bed, as honeymooners do, slept well, with NO indication that Hurricane Lili was in the Caribbean.

In the morning we headed for a delicious breakfast in the main dining room where they serve bottomless cups of coffee. At the entrance to the dining room was a poster, photo featured, showing the current position of Hurricane Lili and the current position of the Carnival Sensation. Further, the drawing indicated the FORECAST position of Hurricane Lili, along with the ANTICIPATED location of the Ship – and for good measure the Captain, Master Francesco La Fauci did make an announcement to let us know that he could change course to avoid Lili if it became necessary. Well that was reassuring, and we do always appreciate honesty.

Because of the storm, we spent our final day at sea, sailing CLOSE to Cuba. Initially the day started with cloudy skies, but soon the sun came out, and temperatures soared. We laid in the sun, but when it became cloudy, again, we headed for the Adult hot tubs at the rear of the ship. Less than half-an-hour after relaxing in the jacuzzi, it started to drizzle – some people left – and then it started to pour – and even more left. Soon it was just the two of us and another couple sitting, in the hot tub, in a warm Caribbean rain, while the others huddled, shivering in their swim suits under an adjacent canopy. The remainder of the day progressed in this manner: 40 mins. of sun, 20 mins. of clouding up, 20 mins. of drizzle, then rain, 20 mins. of clearing, and then sun again. Over and over, all day. You could have set a clock by it. Little did we know this was the rain band spirals 300 miles from the eye of the hurricane.

That day, our last on Carnival Inspiration, Hurricane Lili made landfall in Matanzas Province, Cuba where it caused $262 million in damage, but no deaths. Moisture from Lili fueled a storm that struck the northeastern United States, which contributed indirectly to a man’s death in Main.Eventually the remnants of Lili made it to The United Kingdom where strong winds and high seas caused six deaths.

At NO time were we in danger. We had a MOST enjoyable time in our ports of call. Our last day was a New Experience as we learned first hand about the rain spirals associated with a hurricane, and that a hurricane’s path can be anticipated pretty accurately, offering insight to the captain and crew. We enjoyed a nearly empty hot tub as the majority of passengers were worried that thay at ey would get wet, in the hot tub, when it rained. We just sat there and continued to get wet, enjoy the company, and enjoy the savings of traveling during the “off season”.

Rob and Lynn Belles are seasoned travelers and Cruises Inc. Travel Agents

Gathering up the best experiences on Earth to share with you

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