Update: Continued Greek Unrest May Impact Cruises

December 18, 2008
Update: The US Embassy has issued an update for travelers in Athens. "While the intensity of civil disturbances in Greece has diminished somewhat, demonstrators continue to periodically block streets, confront police, and engage in vandalism. Athens' Syntagma square is the most common venue for protests in the capital and should be avoided.

American citizens should stay current with media coverage of local events and be aware of their surroundings at all times, maintaining security awareness."

MSC Cruises' MSC Poesia remains on schedule to visit Piraeus on December 21.

Violent unrest -- which has already forced P&O Cruises to cancel a scheduled call in Piraeus -- continues in Greece and may further impact cruise travel.

As we reported earlier, riots began in Athens on December 6, after the fatal police shooting of a 15-year-old boy, and spread across the country, reaching as far as the Greek islands of Crete and Corfu. Following several days of relative calm, flames were reignited on Tuesday in Athens when a group of youths attacked a police station with petrol bombs. In another Tuesday incident, a group of demonstrators stormed a live TV broadcast and displayed a sign that read "Stop Watching TV. Take to the Streets."

In response to ongoing conflict, P&O Cruises last week diverted Oriana from its planned call at Piraeus, Athens' port of call. (The ship went to Naples instead.) At this point, it is not yet known how the conflicts will impact a smattering of ships slated to visit Greece this month. These include MSC Poesia (December 20, Katakolon; December 21, Piraeus; December 22, Rhodes), MSC Fantasia (December 23, Rhodes), Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas (December 27, Piraeus; December 28, Rhodes) and Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Jade (December 29, Rhodes; December 31, Piraeus).

At this point, spokespersons for Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean have said that they're monitoring the situation.

Fortunately, since December is considered a low season to visit the Greek Isles, the conflict is likely to impact fewer cruise travelers than it might during spring, summer or fall.

--by Dan Askin, Assistant Editor

Share your comments on this story!