When I book travel, I generally don’t think about natural disasters. Well, maybe a little bit. I won’t book an island with an erupting volcano (unless it’s the Big Island of Hawaii) and I won’t book a place that has just had a major natural disaster (like Nepal after the recent earthquakes). Otherwise, natural disasters don’t usually cross my mind.
Except that when I booked my recent Carnival Cruise to the Western Caribbean, hurricanes actually DID cross my mind and were a topic of discussion with the friends I booked the cruise with. We realized that by booking a Caribbean cruise in September we were booking right into hurricane season. We weighed the pros and cons. On the “pros” side, the timing for the cruise was right for us: the show I was Assistant Director for was ending a week before the cruise, and no one else was performing in//rehearsing for a show. Also, there are less children on the boat at the end of September because school is in session (we are empty nesters, so a plus for us). Another pro was that cruises to the Caribbean during September are generally cheaper, so we could get a great deal for our booking.
On the “cons” side? We could hit a hurricane, and have our cruise canceled, or our itinerary changed, or get stuck out at sea for a few days. This, actually, is what is happening to many people who have cruises this week leaving from or heading to Florida and the Bahamas, thanks to Hurricane Matthew. We weighed the pros and cons, and the pros took the day–and so we played “Russian Hurricane Roulette.” And we won. Cruise was great and the worse that happened was that we saw far clouds and lightning from Matthew far trailing us as we left Central America,
Of course, it’s not just cruises affected by Matthew. Air travel to many Florida airports has been canceled for several days. People staying at hotels up and down the Florida, Georgia and South Carolina coasts have had to evacuate. Even Disney World has closed, for only the fourth time in its history. So many, many thousands of travelers have been affected by this storm.
Anything can happen at any time. I’m going to Japan twice in the next six months, and I am well aware (having lived in close proximity to the horrible Northridge earthquake of 1994) that they have lots of seismic activity. I’ve been in blizzards that have shut down New York in winter. There can be volcanic eruptions. Tsunamis (my heart still stops a little thinking about all the people vacationing at the Thailand resorts during the Boxing Day Tsunami), Tornadoes are plentiful in the Midwest. You just can’t let what might happen stop you from travel, just like you can’t let it stop you from living your life (I’m in California, so earthquakes are a thing, and where I live maybe volcanoes too).
That said, I’m thinking about and sending prayers to everyone in Haiti and the Bahamas tonight, especially those who lost their lives in Haiti . I’m also sending thoughts and prayers to everyone who lives in the path of Matthew in the Southeast, and all of the travelers affected by the Hurricane on land and sea as well. Stay safe, stay smart, and may all the places Matthew touches quickly recover to welcome travelers once again.