These Cruise Ship Ports of Call Are Most Likely To Be Cancelled

Unfortunately, not all cruises go as smoothly as you’d hope, and one of the things that can go wrong is a change of schedule.

You might’ve booked a cruise based on the ship and what you can do onboard, but most people at least put equal weight on the destinations you’re visiting. But they can’t be guaranteed.

Sometimes, ports of call get cancelled, and some more than others. Let’s take a look at the most-cancelled ports of call and why they’re so badly affected.

1. Funchal, Madeira

Panoramic view of Funchal, the capital city of Madeira, as seen from a high vantage point. It captures a sprawling urban area with densely packed buildings, including residential homes and larger structures, interspersed with lush greenery. The foreground shows a serene seascape with a cruise ship docked at the lengthy pier, adding a touch of adventure to the peaceful, hazy ocean backdrop.

Funchal is the capital of Madeira, and a popular port of call for cruises to the Canary Islands and on transatlantic cruises. However, it’s also one of the most cancelled cruise ports due to the weather – the port is unsheltered, and so high winds often build up which can affect a ship’s ability to dock.

It’s extra frustrating with Funchal because, if you’re on a transatlantic cruise, it might be the last port of call for the next several days, and if it’s cancelled there isn’t really an alternative. You might go from having 2 sea days, a trip to Funchal, and then 6 sea days to having 9 sea days in a row.

2. Port Stanley, Falkland Islands

A serene view of Port Stanley, the capital of the Falkland Islands, featuring a tranquil waterfront scene. The town is depicted with charming, brightly colored buildings, including a prominent red-roofed church and traditional houses, against a clear blue sky. This small, picturesque settlement reflects a peaceful, remote island life, nestled along the edge of the calm waters, conveying a sense of isolation and quaint community living.

Port Stanley is the primary port for the Falkland Islands, but it often falls victim to bad weather – not just at the port, but on the approach through the Drake Passage, making it harder for the ship to get near.

Cruise lines are often trigger-happy when it comes to cancelling Port Stanley because sailings are typically heading to Antarctica, and so they know passengers might not be as disappointed since it may mean reaching the scenery of the polar continent sooner.

3. Dutch Harbor, Alaska

A panoramic view of Dutch Harbor, Alaska, captured from a high vantage point. The landscape showcases a blend of rugged mountains and autumn-hued tundra leading down to the busy harbor area, where infrastructure and scattered buildings are visible along the coastline. The harbor serves as a central hub for fishing boats, set against the backdrop of overcast skies and dramatic terrain, highlighting the remote and industrious nature of this Alaskan community.

Dutch Harbor is a pretty port that is in a remote location – and when you have to make that point about an Alaskan port, you know it’s in the middle of nowhere! It’s popular on repositioning cruises between North America and Asia during the ‘shoulder seasons’ of Spring and Autumn, but that’s also when the weather is at its worst.

Because Dutch Harbor is a bit out of the way, and because of those high winds that pick up at just the wrong time, cruise lines will often cancel the port visit just to make sure the ship gets to its new home port for the season in plenty of time.

4. Santorini, Greece

The enchanting evening ambiance of Santorini, Greece, showcasing the iconic whitewashed houses with blue accents perched along the rugged cliffside. As the sun sets, it casts a warm golden hue over the landscape, highlighting the smooth, rounded rooftops and traditional windmills that add to the distinctive aesthetic of the island. The serene Aegean Sea stretches into the horizon, enhancing the tranquil and picturesque setting.

Santorini is a beautiful island in the Eastern Mediterranean that always looks stunning – but what you can never tell from the photos is just how windy it gets all around the destination.

Santorini is not a docking port, which means ships need to anchor out at sea and use tender boats to reach the shore. Because there’s no shelter, sometimes it’s just not possible, especially with smaller cruise ships that are more susceptible to the winds.

It’s a real shame because, for many, Santorini is the real highlight of the region, and many people book cruises here just to visit.

5. Georgetown, Grand Cayman

The vibrant coastal setting of Georgetown, Grand Cayman, featuring clear turquoise waters and a lively waterfront lined with a variety of buildings. The scene includes modern commercial structures, recreational boats docked along the pier, and natural rocky outcrops at the shoreline. The clear sky and bright sunshine enhance the inviting tropical ambiance of the capital city, showcasing its blend of natural beauty and urban development.

Georgetown might be on almost the other side of the world to Santorini, but it shares many of the same problems – it doesn’t have a pier capable of hosting cruise ships, meaning tender boats are required, and it often suffers from high winds and high swells on the surrounding waters.

The problem that Georgetown tends to have is that it’s a little unpredictable at times. Because of that, cruise lines need to take a no-risk approach. It would be no good dropping anchor in a morning where the weather is OK, but not ideal, only to then have to weigh anchor in the afternoon and potentially leave guests stranded on the island.

As a result, cruise lines will skip the port if they feel there’s any risk of the weather turning.

6. Isafjordur, Iceland

This image offers a picturesque view of Isafjordur, Iceland, showcasing the serene harbor filled with boats against a dramatic backdrop of steep mountains. The harbor area features functional buildings and warehouses, highlighting the town's fishing industry. The calm water reflects a cloudy sky, emphasizing the remote and tranquil atmosphere of this northern Icelandic town nestled within the deep fjords. The landscape conveys a sense of rugged beauty and isolation typical of Icelandic coastal communities.

Isafjordur is notable for its cancelled cruise port visits. The beautiful Icelandic destination has a small dock that smaller cruise ships can use, and that tends to work quite well, but it’s when bigger cruise ships show up that the issues start. The winders out to sea mean that tendering passengers becomes a lot riskier, and so the port is a regular casualty.

There are rumours that the dock is set to be renovated and extended so that larger cruise ships can dock – let’s hope so.

7. Lerwick, Scotland

This image features a large cruise ship docked near the shores of Lerwick, Scotland, emphasizing the vast scale of the vessel against the rural landscape backdrop. A small tender boat is visible beside the cruise ship, ferrying passengers to and from the shore. The setting is serene with open waters and gentle hills in the distance under a clear blue sky, capturing the peaceful interaction between modern tourism and the natural environment of this Scottish locale.

Lerwick has a cruise pier that’s capable of handling mid-sized cruise ships (larger ships don’t tend to schedule visits to the Shetland Islands anyway). But that doesn’t mean it’s immune from cancellations – the rugged landscape here didn’t happen by chance, and the weather is hit or miss – and when it’s a miss, the storms can be nasty.

So unfortunately this is another port you shouldn’t bank on, though it’s lovely when the weather is calm.

8. Valletta, Malta

The scenic view of Valletta, the capital city of Malta, as seen from the sea. The city's skyline is characterized by timeless architecture, including sandstone buildings and historical landmarks that rise steeply from the waterfront. Prominent fortifications and walls line the harbor, reflecting Malta's rich history in maritime defense. The serene Mediterranean Sea complements the bustling cityscape under a partly cloudy sky, enhancing the picturesque and inviting atmosphere of Valletta.

Valletta isn’t too bad these days for cruise cancellations, but it does have some history of missed port visits due to the bad weather.

The pier here is relatively well-sheltered and big enough to host large cruise ships, but that doesn’t mean storms and high winds won’t ever affect your cruise visit.

9. Torshavn, Faroe Islands

This image beautifully captures the vibrant and colorful town of Torshavn, the capital of the Faroe Islands. The town is densely populated with picturesque houses painted in various bright colors, and their roofs are distinctly red, green, and blue. The bustling harbor is filled with boats, suggesting a strong local maritime culture. Lush greenery surrounds the area, and the town's architecture, combined with its natural setting, presents a charming and inviting atmosphere characteristic of this North Atlantic island community.

Some ports of call are just pure unlucky in terms of where they’re based, and Torshavn is one of them. Atlantic storms frequently pass over the port, and the bad weather they bring is enough to make it unsafe for cruise ships to visit this picturesque town.

It’s a shame because the storms tend to happen more during cruise season here, especially for transatlantic ships on a more northern sailing route in September, heading over to the US East Coast or Canada. Cruise lines will often cancel Torshavn because they need to avoid the storm and make sure they get across the Atlantic on time.

10. Cruise Line Private Islands/Resorts, The Bahamas

This image offers a vibrant aerial view of Perfect Day at CocoCay, a private island resort in the Bahamas operated by Royal Caribbean. The picture shows a colorful water park featuring a large swimming pool, water slides, and ample lounging areas. A hot air balloon offers rides above the island, providing panoramic views, while a cruise ship is moored nearby, emphasizing the island's role as a cruise destination. The entire scene is set against a backdrop of the turquoise Caribbean Sea and a blue sky, creating a lively and inviting vacation atmosphere.

Rather than listing all the cruise line private islands separately, I’ve bundled them together here because they are unfortunately the victims of several cancellations due to the weather.

But it’s not necessarily because the ports are badly sheltered, or that they don’t have piers (because many of them do). It’s because they’re so popular, they’ll be included on itineraries year-round in the region, including during hurricane season, and that’s when the cancellations are more frequent.

The weather tends to be worse further out in the Bahamas where these islands are, so cruise lines will often skip their own private islands for a day at sea or an alternative port nearer the US mainland, but they will typically try to get guests to their resorts because they know they can make more money from excursions there.

Other Reasons Ports Can Be Cancelled

The ports above are all cancelled frequently because of the weather, which is unpredictable. The destinations are worth visiting, so cruise lines will include them on itineraries, even though there’s always a chance things can change.

But bad weather is not the only reason that cruise ports can be cancelled. There are several other factors which sometimes come into play, but these are much harder to predict:

Overbooking

Many cruise ports can accommodate multiple cruise ships at once, but it’s still possible for the most popular ports to become overbooked – too many cruise ships apply to visit the port on the same day.

When this happens, a port will be cancelled in advance. This isn’t something that happens during your cruise – at worst, it’ll probably be a couple of weeks before you sail that you find out, but usually it’s earlier than that.

When this happens, the cruise line will do its best to replace the port with an alternative.

Political Unrest/Safety

Unfortunately, when you’re cruising around the world, sometimes there can be issues that make a port unsafe to visit. 

It might be a particular port or country that’s undergoing some political changes or increases in crime, or it might be an entire region of the world – in early 2024, several cruise lines made changes to sailings to avoid the Red Sea due to ships being attacked with the ongoing situation in the Middle East.

This image captures a bustling beach scene along the Red Sea coast in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. The beach is densely lined with rows of parasols and sun loungers, offering a popular spot for relaxation and sunbathing. A long pier extends into the clear turquoise waters, where several boats are moored, suggesting opportunities for water activities like snorkeling or diving. The backdrop features a rocky desert landscape, emphasizing the unique geographical mix of sea and arid terrain typical of this renowned tourist destination.

Because things can happen quickly, it’s possible that you might have a port visit cancelled last minute, as soon as a destination is deemed unsafe.

Mechanical Failures

Sometimes ports are cancelled not because of the destination, but because of a problem with the ship. If it’s a tender port, it might be that there’s something wrong with the tender boats. 

This image depicts a large cruise ship with a distinctive blue wave design on its hull, sailing through misty waters. In the foreground, a smaller tender boat is seen moving quickly across the water, likely shuttling passengers between the ship and a nearby port. The scene captures the vast size difference between the cruise ship and the tender boat, illustrating the scale and operations involved in managing a cruise journey.

Or, something might have happened to the ship itself – if an engine breaks down and there are propulsion issues, the captain may have to cancel port visits to make sure the ship gets back to her home port in time for repairs.

Health Concerns

While it’s very rare, sometimes there’ll be an outbreak of an illness such as norovirus on a cruise, and when that happens the captain may have to make the call to cancel a port visit and essentially quarantine the ship.

Usually, the scale of the outbreak will be the determining factor – if only a few people get sick, they’ll be asked to remain in their rooms but guests can typically continue their cruise as normal, provided they show no symptoms. However, it’s not unheard of for ships to have to return to their homeport and stay there for a few days until guests are given the all-clear.

Alternatives May Be Offered

When a port of call is cancelled by a cruise line, there is usually a scramble to find a replacement port of call.

Cynical cruise passengers sometimes make claims that cruise lines will cancel ports too easily, in a bid to encourage passengers to spend more time (and therefore more money) on the ship. But that’s not true – cruise lines know that cancelled ports are frustrating, and they would rather you had a great cruise experience so that you want to rebook again and again.

So, where they can, they’ll sail to a new port. This will depend on where you are in the world, which ports can be reached without disrupting the rest of your itinerary, and whether the port is already too busy.

In the Mediterranean or the Caribbean, there are typically enough ports that an alternative option can be arranged, but in other destinations you may just end up with an extra sea day. Extended overnight stays in an existing port might be offered, but typically only by luxury cruise lines – the port fees for staying overnight are often cost-prohibitive, and cruise lines will only go so far to make sure you have a good time!

This image offers a stunning view of a harbor in St. Barts, a luxurious Caribbean destination known for its vivid blue waters and upscale atmosphere. The harbor is bustling with a variety of vessels, from small boats to larger yachts, all docked along a waterfront lined with charming red-roofed buildings. The landscape is lush with tropical vegetation, and the rolling hills in the background are dotted with colorful residential buildings, showcasing the island's vibrant architecture and scenic beauty. This setting perfectly encapsulates the luxurious and relaxed lifestyle that St. Barts is famous for.

Don’t Count On Compensation (But Do Get Insurance)

If you’re on a cruise where a port is cancelled, don’t expect the cruise line to shower you with compensation to make it up to you. It’s in your contract that cancellations can happen, and they don’t owe you anything for it.

What you will likely get is a refund of any port fees, but this amount is minimal. You’ll also get a refund on any shore excursions you’d booked through the cruise line, though if you booked with a third party you’ll need to contact them directly to arrange a refund.

If the cruise line arranges an alternative port, you might still get a partial refund of port fees, if the new destination is cheaper. If the fees for the replacement port are higher, the cruise line will absorb that cost.

You can get travel insurance that covers cruise port cancellations, so it’s worth looking into that if you’re cruising to any of the ports in this guide.

It won’t come as standard – you need specific cruise insurance, and you need to request this add-on. It’ll increase your premium but not by much, and if you do have a port cancelled you’ll get some money back to soften the blow.

My Recommendation

My recommendation for cruise insurance depends on where you live.

These are trusted price comparison sites that will quickly get you lots of quotes to match your exact needs.

Final Word

Even in the parts of the world with the most beautiful tropical weather, sometimes the elements can conspire against you and cause you to miss a port you were looking forward to.

Just try to roll with it – the cruise line will only be looking out for your safety, and if you’ve bought cruise insurance with port cancellation cover, you’ll at least have a bit of extra cash to spend to make the day a bit more fun.

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Cruise Mummy

Jenni Fielding is the founder of Cruise Mummy. She has worked in the cruise industry since 2015 and has taken over 30 cruises. Now, she helps over 1 million people per month to plan their perfect cruise holidays.

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2 thoughts on “These Cruise Ship Ports of Call Are Most Likely To Be Cancelled”

  1. Tried to get to Guernsey four times on a cruise with different lines, NCL, Princess and Royal but have never made it! I have been there by hovercraft in rough seas so I can understand why it gets cancelled so much. It’s a lovely island

  2. Hi Jenni

    I note that Princess North America and Canada Cruises have now cancelled port calls, the one I am booked on is Rockland and St John’s to name a couple – the alternative port calls are in France. Is there a list of ports that have been hit by the new restrictions that have been put in place. I understand Rockland is due to the number of people on the ship – maximum of 3000?

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