|Asia, one part of the world that seemed poised to break out as a popular exotic cruise destination (and then received a setback as troubles in various parts resulted in itinerary revisions) may get a big boost yet. Princess is announcing that its Star Princess -- currently the largest ship to cruise Alaska -- will reposition to the Pacific Basin in 2003 - 2004.
The ship will offer a variety of different sailings, including itineraries featuring Australia-New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, China, Thailand, Vietnam and Singapore. It will wind up its Far East season with a 30-day trans-Suez Canal voyage that includes ports in Ho Chi Minh City, Singapore, Kuala Lampur, Cochin (India), Bombay, Salalah (Oman), Aqaba (for Petra, Jordan), Safaga (for Luxor/Karnak, Egypt), Port Said (for Cairo/Giza, Egypt), Rhodes, Kusadasi and Istanbul.
But the timing of this announcement -- in light of a series of troubling conflicts impacting that particular itinerary -- seems odd. The admittedly exotic (and fascinating) schedule features cruising in some of the world’s most troubled waters, none the more so than India, which, according to media reports, would seem to be on the brink of a nuclear war with neighboring Pakistan.
A Princess spokeswoman says the cruise line is well aware of the world situation. “Yes, we have scheduled one 30-day sailing from Bangkok to Venice - March 3, 2004 (two years from now),” responds Denise Seomin. “This itinerary does visit India (Cochin; Bombay). Of course, we constantly monitor all areas to which we sail, working with local and national authorities. Should the current situation remain an issue, we would certainly refrain from visiting those areas that would be a safety concern for our passengers and our crew.”
She adds, “We look to the problems within the Indian region as being resolved well in advance of this sailing aboard Star Princess. Again, if they are not, we will alter this itinerary accordingly in a timely fashion.”