Update: Protests in Thailand Are Impacting Cruises

April 13, 2009
(5:15 p.m.) -- Anti-government protests in Bangkok, Thailand's capital city, have erupted, and so far one cruise line has altered its itinerary. Oceania Cruises tells Cruise Critic today that the ship will skip its planned call at Bangkok this cruise and overnight instead at Singapore.

Conversely, a spokeswoman from Princess Cruises tells us that Diamond Princess, which is ending one cruise and beginning another at Bangkok on Wednesday, will not change its plans. Other cruise lines operating in the region, such as Regent Seven Seas Cruises, have not responded to Cruise Critic's request for information.

A bulletin posted on Britain's Foreign and Commonwealth Office Web site urges Brits to avoid Bangkok for now: "Transit through Bangkok airport has so far been unaffected. Foreigners have not been targeted by the protestors and there are no reports of British citizens being caught up directly in the violence. However, the situation remains volatile and unpredictable with a high risk of further bloodshed. In view of the risk of a further deterioration, British citizens are warned not to travel to Bangkok unless their visit is absolutely essential and to review their travel plans to other parts of Thailand."

The governments of Australia and Great Britain have issued travel warnings though the United States has not yet issued a cautionary announcement to advise its citizens.

Cruises that call at Bangkok actually are docked at Laem Chabang, the country's deep water port; it's some 2 1/2 hours from the capital city and so is well away from the upheaval. Still, passengers embarking could find difficulties traveling between the airport and their ships, though at this point we haven't heard any reports of such problems.

According to a report by Reuters, the unrest this time (as opposed to December events in which militants were able to shut down Bangkok's airport for a week) is primarily focused on the city itself. The report says that the airport is much more securely monitored now then it had been, and local leaders do not anticipate disruption there.

However, protesters did venture outside the city to a resort town called Pattaya, which is about 30 miles from Laem Chabang and often included on ships' shore tour menus. Over the weekend, it had been planned that Asian leaders would meet there; that gathering was cancelled.

Cruise Critic Member wberthin, who's boarding Diamond Princess later this week, is already in Bangkok and reports that "we are here right now in Bangkok. Everything is fine. Was a little awkward getting around yesterday evening due to blocked roads but thats about it so far."

We'll keep you informed of any changes issued by cruise lines scheduled to call in the region in the coming weeks, in the coming weeks, which also include Crystal Cruises and Royal Caribbean.

--by Carolyn Spencer Brown, Editor in Chief