We expected a luxury cruise of 10 days calling at 9 ports in France, Italy, Greece and Turkey with a full programme of inclusive shore excursions but after day 4 several port visits were cancelled because of poor weather. The ship's tenders could only be used in calm seas so where the ship was at anchor, passengers could not be ferried ashore safely during high winds or rough seas. Why on earth does a cruise line select ports that require tender transfers in an area where it is known that weather can be variable, especially in October? Planned excursions at the cancelled ports were also cancelled and during one part of the cruise we sailed non-stop for 65 hours looking for a port where the ship could dock. Several on-board activities were impossible during this time and alternatives were not offered.
On the fifth day of the cruise we were advised that the cruise would also be affected by the pre-planned general strike in Athens that was scheduled for 19th and 20th October. We could not therefore return home on 19th but Regent had arranged for us to be accommodated in Athens for at least two nights in a safe hotel away from the expected demonstrations. However, we were warned that it might not be possible to leave the hotel during this period and all costs must be met by ourselves. The last day of the cruise at Kusadasi was to be shortened slightly to allow for diembarkation in Athens before the start of the strike.
These arrangements were not acceptable and 230 passengers preferred to leave the cruise at Kusadasi. Originally we were warned that we would have to make our own arrangements for this alternative transfer home. Eventually Regent arranged for a fleet of coaches to take passengers to Izmir airport to connect with flights to Istanbul and onward connections. The cost of the land and air transfers to Istanbul and any overnight accommodation is to be met by the passenger. As yet we do not know how much this will be and as we have no official documentation, we do not know how (or whether) we will be reimbursed.
So - do not choose a cruise where port visits incur tendering passengers from a ship at anchor and make sure that the shipping line has made contingency plans for alternative shore visits during inclement weather.
Also make sure that you choose a cruise line that will accept responsibility for any costs incurred by curtailment or alterations to the schedule because of civil unrest that could have been foreseen before the cruise started. Cynically I wonder if the poor weather was used to Regent's advantage so that we could dock at Kusadasi in time to disembark passengers, thereby reducing costs for the company and reducing the need for accommodation in Athens.