Day 2: Latest Info On Volcano's Impact On Cruises

April 16, 2010
Update, 9:50 a.m. EDT: NATS has announced that restrictions preventing flights in controlled airspace over England and Wales will remain in place until 7 a.m. BST (2 a.m. EDT) tomorrow. However, from 7 p.m. BST (2 p.m. EDT) tonight, restrictions will be lifted in a large part of Scottish airspace including Scottish airports, Shetland, Orkneys and also Northern Ireland.

(4:20 a.m. EDT) -- Travellers in Europe face a second day of chaos and disruption today as ash from the Eyjafjallajoekull volcano in Iceland continues to spread across European airspace, forcing widespread cancellation of flights.

Here's the situation this morning. Britain's air traffic control service, NATS, advised at 8 a.m. BST that English airspace (a change from yesterday, when it was the whole of the U.K.'s airspace) would remain completely closed until 1 a.m. on Saturday, April 17. The situation is reviewed every six hours.

But there's a glimmer of hope for Scotland. The NATS website says that from 7 p.m. tonight, "Forecasts indicate that Scottish airspace may be able to accept domestic flights within Scotland and Northern/Southern Ireland, and North Atlantic flights to/from airports in Scotland and Northern Ireland."

Sky News has reported in the last hour that five flights have arrived in Glasgow and Prestwick this morning and one Air Canada flight has departed. Some flights are also departing from Belfast, Northern Ireland.

But for cruise passengers, the outlook for the weekend is bleak as at least another 24 hours of disruption is likely. Airports in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Belgium and the Netherlands are closed today as the ash cloud drifts slowly south and east. In mainland Europe today, only 11,000 out of 28,000 scheduled flights will operate. Some 24 airports in northern France are closed, while in Germany, Berlin, Hamburg, Frankfurt and Dusseldorf are closed -- and let's not forget that the main European river cruise season is about to begin, and will probably also be affected by the crisis.

The latest info from the cruise lines.

So what are the options? Eurostar services between London and Paris and Brussels are full; more than 10,000 extra bookings were made yesterday and passengers are being advised only to turn up at the station if they have a confirmed booking. There are some places available on ferries, options which may be taken up by British passengers who choose to drive to their departure port.

Passengers who have booked a fly-cruise and are affected should have heard from their travel agent or cruise line by now about re-booking or joining the cruise at a later stage and if those who booked cruise-only should have been contacted by their airline.

We'll update the news from the cruise lines throughout the day and, of course, the latest from NATS as it's announced, so stay tuned.

--By Sue Bryant, Cruise Critic Contributing Editor

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