Travel plans? How the hurricanes will impact your plans

CARIBBEAN (WTVD) -- Keeping vacations to the Caribbean on track has become difficult after Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and now Maria.

Unfortunately, the hurricanes have destroyed many popular tourist destinations.

Our hearts and thoughts are with those that have lost everything in wake of the recent hurricanes. Not only was the devastation so widespread, but many of the places in the Caribbean are popular tourist destinations and depend on tourism for their economy.

Due to the amount of damage that these islands received, many cruises are being re-routed and some resorts have even been forced to close while they take time picking up the pieces left behind.

Before Hurricane Irma hit, you can see the beauty of St. Thomas. After Hurricane Irma, so much of the landscape and beauty is destroyed.

Travel to the Caribbean is fluid right now, according to Sarah Waxler, a travel agent with Travel Leaders and Getaways4U.

"We are trying to make sure everyone is protected," said Waxler when discussing the potential for tourists to still visit these islands.

A key to protection, Waxler said is having travel protection or travel insurance.

She advises you to read the policy before agreeing to it as each travel protection policy is different and provides a variety of coverage options.

"You cannot buy travel protection or insurance once a storm is named, it becomes a pre-existing condition," said Waxler.

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Right now she gets daily emails from cruise lines and resorts updating their current status. She said cruise lines are changing itineraries because the ships cannot access certain Caribbean islands due to hurricane damage.

While cruise ships are rerouting their trips, unfortunately, Waxler said travelers have no recourse when it comes to the port changes.

"Every cruise contract states your ship can be moved anywhere. I always tell clients to pick a cruise at least 50 percent on what the ship offers as that is always a guarantee, port stops are never a guarantee."

Waxler said resorts and airlines are having to adapt to the situation as well.

Some resorts may claim they are remaining open, but Waxler said it's key to do your own research to make sure the resort is ready to handle travelers.

"Is there going to be mold on the walls? Really just make sure you are dealing with a good source or you could have a nightmare of a vacation."

Some major resorts like the Beaches Resort in Turks and Caicos and the Sandals Grande Antigua had so much damage they will not reopen until the middle of December.

Waxler said instead of offering refunds, many of the resorts and cruise lines are offering other travel options for their guests to rebook at a later date.

Travelers also need to check with their airlines now if they had planned on flying to the Caribbean. Many airlines, like Delta, have put out a travel exception policy that waives change fees to the islands hit hardest by the hurricanes.

A month still remains for hurricane season, and there is still time for these islands, even the ones that have yet to be affected, to see more destruction, but there is also time for you to protect your get-away.
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