July 30, 2013
(8:00 a.m. EDT) -- Princess Cruises and Seabourn have joined a number of other cruise lines in canceling port calls in Egypt due to the political turmoil gripping the country.
Pacific Princess' port call to Alexandria on August 1-2 has been canceled, and replaced with calls at Santorini and Corfu. Dawn Princess' port calls to Safaga on August 7, Alexandria on August 10, and Sharm El Sheikh on September 14 have been cancelled, and instead the ship will call at the ports of Ashdod (for Jerusalem,) Israel and Crete (Aghios Nikolaos,) Greece.
Seabourn Legend was due to make a number of port calls in Egypt in October on two separate itineraries. The 15-day Rome to Athens cruise departing on October 5 will no longer call at Alexandria on October 11. Instead it will call at Santorini, Crete and Marmaris. The 18-day Athens to Dubai cruise departing on October 20 will no longer call at Hurghada (Oct. 24), Sharm El Sheikh (Oct. 26) and Safaga, for Luxor (Oct. 27 & 28). It has replaced these stops with Iraklion, Crete, Rhodes, Haifa, Ashdod and Aqaba. Seabourn Odyssey is canceling port calls to Hurghada on October 18 and Safaga on Oct 20 & 21 as part of its 18-day Athens to Dubai cruise, changing the itinerary to include sea days.
Seabourn's decision to cancel a stop in Sharm El Sheikh is especially ominous for Egypt as U.S. State Department and Foreign and Commonwealth Office advice do not include Sharm El Sheikh or the other Red Sea resorts in their travel advisories, as the area remains unaffected by the issues affecting the rest of the country.
A statement on the line's website reads: "We will continue to monitor all ports for future cruise visits and should further adjustments be required, travel agents and guests will be notified. At Seabourn the safety of our guests and crew is our top priority."
Their decision follows that of a number of other cruise lines, including Holland America Line which canceled all port calls to Egypt on July 15. A statement from the line read: "We have been closely monitoring the developing situation in Egypt. As a result of the U.S. Department of State Travel Warning to defer all non-essential travel to Egypt due to continuing uncertainties regarding the restructuring of government institutions, Holland America Line has replaced calls in Egypt on several upcoming sailings. Affected travel agents and guests are being notified."
The itinerary changes are: 11-day Noordam itineraries departing Aug. 15 from Piraeus, Greece and Istanbul, Turkey, to Port Said and Alexandria, will be replaced by Ashdod (Jerusalem) and Haifa, Israel. An 11-day Noordam itinerary departing Oct. 20 from Piraeus, will replace Port Said and Alexandria with Haifa and Limassol, Cyprus.
Two 10-day cruises on Rotterdam departing on October 31 and Nov. 20, both from Piraeus, to Port Said and Alexandria, will be replaced by Kusadasi, Turkey and Limassol.
And a 14-day cruise on Prinsendam departing on October 28 from Piraeus to Port Said and Alexandria will be replaced by Rhodes and Katakolon.
Other lines include: MSC Cruises, has changed the itinerary for MSC Armonia which was originally traveling to the Red Sea in 2013-2014 and will now go to the Canary Isles this winter. And AIDA, which has cancelled all calls to Port Said for AIDAdiva this season. The ship was scheduled to visit the port on 22 July, 5 August, 19 August, 2 September, 16 September, 30 September, 14 October and 28 October on a series of 7-night round-trip Eastern Mediterranean cruises out of Turkey. The scheduled stops in Port Said will be replaced with calls in Ashdod, Israel.
Thomson Cruises and Discover Egypt have also both cancelled calls to Egypt. Thomson canceled calls at Alexandria and Port Said on Thomson Celebration, replacing them with Aghios Nikolaos, Crete and Haifa, Israel, earlier this month. Parent company Tui meanwhile, cancelled all flights to and from Luxor and repatriated all its guests back to the U.K.
A spokesperson said: "As a result of the change in Foreign & Commonwealth Office (F.C.O.) advice, the decision was made to cancel all outbound flights to Luxor on Wednesday 3rd July. As a precautionary measure, we also took the decision to repatriate all customers holidaying in Luxor back to the UK [on] 3rd July 2013. Our cruise team will continue to monitor the situation and are reviewing Egyptian itineraries and the shore excursion programme on a daily basis."
Egypt specialist operator Discover Egypt has cancelled two Nile cruises following the change in F.C.O. advice, which warned against all but essential travel to apart from the Red Sea Resorts in Sinai and the Mainland Red Sea Coast.
Elhamy Elzyat, Chairman of the Egypt Tourism Federation has written to tour operators stating: “Until a new Cabinet is appointed I will personally work with my colleagues members of the Tourism Federation Board together with The Chairman of the Tourism Promotion Board to put a plan of action to recreate confidence in the Egyptian Tourism Product bringing on board as soon as appointed the Ministers of Tourism, Antiquities, Culture, Interior and all appropriate Governors to create a new image for Egypt.”
--by Adam Coulter, U.K. Editor