Cruise Lines Keep Wary Eye On Istanbul

November 25, 2003

As a result of last week's tragic terrorist bombings in Istanbul, a handful of cruise itineraries, slated to call in various ports in Turkey last week, have been disrupted. Costa's CostaClassica bypassed its scheduled visit to Izmir and Antalya, heading instand Cyprus and Rhodes, and Princess' Royal Princess replaced a stop at Kusadasi with a visit to Greek's Rhodes.

At this point – this being the very tail end of Istanbul's cruise season – there's otherwise little impact on cruise travel there. But, as the U.S. Department of State and the British Foreign Office have issued strongly worded warnings (the State Department "recommends U.S. citizens defer nonessential travel" and "maintain a low profile throughout Turkey"), cruise lines with scheduled visits to Turkey in 2004 for Eastern Mediterranean voyages are developing contingency plans – just in case violence continues.

Ironically, Istanbul, which had suffered a drop in cruise traffic since the war on terrorism began more than two years ago – ships had replaced it as a port of embarkation or disembarkation – was just starting to see a pick-up in 2004.

Travelers who have booked future Turkey-related itineraries should be aware that cruise line contracts do not require them to compensate passengers for missed ports, particularly when caused by matters (like this one) that are way out of their control.