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Hurricane Georges Hits Home For Vacationers

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RALEIGH — Hurricane Georges has ripped through the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, destroying homes and lives. The storm is also wreaking havoc with vacation plans.

Travel agents across the Triangle have been fielding calls from concerned travelers about the hurricane. People booked on cruises are worried their trips may be cancelled or plagued by weather problems.

Many cruise lines dock in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. Travel agents say anyone planning to leave on a cruise this weekend will want to check with a travel agent to make sure the trip hasn't been cancelled.

Cruise ships can usually avoid storms and damaged areas, but travellers may have problems embarking on their trip from Miami.

Because of the hurricane, cruise lines are working with skeleton crews, and travellers may find it difficult to get information.

Many people save money for years just to take a luxury cruise. A hurricane can blow those dreams away.

Travel agent Phil Kraemer says a lot of people choose to cruise during hurricane season because rates are lower. He says ships can usually avoid storms by taking a different route, and calling on unharmed ports.

But frequent cruiser Patty Barker says for her, hurricane season is off-limits.

"Even though the rates are better, the chances of having bad weather are pretty good," said Barker. "It's not worth it to get caught in bad weather. It ruins your vacation, and you still spent a lot of money."

Kraemer says as of Friday morning, Royal Caribbean planned to change some of the ports used by their ships, because of hurricane damage.

Most travel agents encourage their clients to buy trip insurance, but the insurance will only be of value if the trip is cancelled. If the ship sails, and you're not on it, you lose your money. ,John Clark

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Amanda Lamb, Reporter
Terry Cantrell, Photographer
Julie Moos, Web Editor

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