For some people, just hearing the words ‘Bay of Biscay’ is enough to make them tremble and beg God for forgiveness and protection, but the bay is not all bad!
My blog today is for EVERY SINGLE PERSON out there that is slowly beginning to panic about their Bay of Biscay encounter and especially for those that are even considering changing their cruise booking because of it. Don’t panic, don’t over react, just read the following and calm down.
Let’s talk about the Bay of Biscay and get a few things straight!
Yes, the Bay of Biscay has a terrible reputation and it is not without reason. Parts of the continental shelf extend far into the bay, resulting in fairly shallow waters in many areas and thus the rough seas for which the region is known. The Bay of Biscay is home to some of the Atlantic Ocean’s fiercest weather and large storms often occur in the bay – but NOT ALL OF THE TIME.
I have crossed the Bay of Biscay almost 30-times since I started cruising (I have another 4 crossings to come in 2014) and I have experienced it all! Force 12 gales, flat calm seas, blistering hot sunshine, thunder and lightning, snow, hail stones and torrential rain – you name it, I have sailed through it in the Bay and I still continue to do so.
I can appreciate that people worry about it, after all there are some horror stories out there, but you must always remember that if the Captain thought for one second that conditions were unsafe, he would not sail his ship, passengers and crew through it. Simple as that!
The most common thing that people ask is what they can expect from the Bay and at specific times of the year. I will always tell you the same thing – Mother Nature is Mother Nature and you can NEVER tell what the Bay of Biscay will be like at any time of the year. Granted, the bay does experience more storms during the winter months, but I have sailed in all 4 seasons and experienced it all within those 4 seasons – you just don’t know what it is going to be like.
One voyage took me through the Bay in April of 2012 and I have to admit it was the worst crossing I have ever experienced (note that it was not winter!). The ship was rocking and rolling non-stop for almost 24-hours. The lifts were in very limited supply (in short we were told not to use them), food was only available from certain restaurants as the crew physically couldn’t serve and there was no entertainment. I absolutely love the rough weather, I really do, so I was in my element, but other passengers were not quite as excited as I was and if I am honest I rarely seen another soul for several hours. Our Captain, however, was fantastic and he kept us all updated every few hours and re-assured us all that although the conditions were rough, the ship was under control and it was perfectly safe. It was a bad crossing, but we got through it and coming back we had perfect conditions, barely even a cloud in the sky.
During one Eastern Mediterranean cruise I sailed the Biscay in November and conditions were quite literally flat calm. There was barely even a ripple on the surface of the water, the air temperature was warm enough to enjoy the open decks and everyone onboard was perfectly content. It was almost like a spring day in the middle of a winter’s ocean, it was beautiful and there was no movement at all.
The above just goes to show that you never know what the sea conditions will be like. I have had rough weather in July and calm weather in November. Moderate weather in September and severe storms in April – Mother Nature controls it all, we just have to go with it.
Let me give you some honest advice. Buy some seasickness pills and forget about it, just look forward to your cruise. Don’t start stressing yourself out to the point where you are considering changing your voyage or cancelling your cruise altogether.
For every 1 bad crossing that I have experienced, I have had 4 good ones. Even in what they would call ‘moderate’ sea conditions you barely feel any movement because the ship is well stabilised. It really does have to be fierce outside for it to have a big effect on the ships movement and to the point where it would cause you severe discomfort.
I hope this blog has helped put the minds of some of you at rest and allows you stop thinking about it so much for a little while. Chances are your crossing will be nothing out of the ordinary and you probably won’t feel a thing, but if you do, it will likely be very slight and do nothing other than gently rock you to sleep. 🙂
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