What you see is not always what you get with cruises. Cruise lines are completely within their rights to change the ports that they stop at, even after you have booked your cruise. You can cancel your cruise if you would like but if this is after the final payment period you probably won’t get any money back.
The main cause of last minute itinerary changes is bad weather. This can mean that your itinerary can change a day or two before you’re expected to be in port. This has happened to me on a number of occasions, and although somewhat annoying you can understand the motives behind the change. Recently I had the port of Mykonos substituted for Heraklion because of bad weather. Cruise lines may be more likely to skip a port if it requires tendering to get to land. The smaller tender boats cannot operate in bad weather. I have explained in more detail about the bad weather situation here: What happens when a port is cancelled due to bad weather?
Below is a video of a rather splashy swimming pool onboard the Norwegian Spirit!
Another reason that your cruise itinerary can change is because of political unrest. On board my most recent cruise we were expecting to have several stops in Turkey including Istanbul. These were all replaced with ports on various Greek islands. Slightly annoying but again you can understand the reasons for the change, cruise lines do have to put the safety of passengers first. If a port is going to be cancelled/substituted due to political unrest you will usually be told months in advance, apart from if it is due to some surprise event like a terror attack.
In exceptional circumstances your itinerary can change completely. Recently on board a NCL cruise I booked my next cruise with a travel agent that they had onboard. Their representatives told me that the cruise would be going to the Bahamas and NCL’s private island. When I got home and looked on the NCL website I quickly realised that this itinerary didn’t exist on that date and ship that I had booked. It turned out the cruise I was going on was one around Mexico, Honduras and Belize! This is probably a very rare occurrence but still goes to show that you don’t necessarily always get what you signed up for itinerary wise.
A change of heart!
The last reason why your itinerary may change is quite simply because the cruise line decided that they wanted to make a change. There doesn’t really have to be any reason for the switch! I’ve heard rumours of cruise lines picking different ports which have cheaper taxes or having to change port because there were too many cruise ships in the original port. Cruise lines change their itineraries all the time and can do at any time.
What you see is not always what you get with cruise itineraries but please don’t let this put you off cruising. Think of it as a magical mystery tour!
Has this ever happened to you? Let me know in the comments!