Will Latest Ash Cloud Impact European Cruises?

May 10, 2010
Update, 1 a.m. EDT: According to Eurocontrol, Italian airspace has reopened, but parts of Portugal and Ireland remain closed. However, good news may be on the horizon; BBC News is reporting that the ash cloud is said to be "thinning slightly"; a northeasterly wind over Iceland is also expected to help ease the impact on travellers in Europe. We'll keep you posted.

(9 May, 6 a.m. EDT) -- Cruise travellers trying to reach parts of the Mediterranean face more chaos due to the latest ash cloud impacting European flights.

Today, Europe's air safety agency, Eurocontrol, says there are no-fly zones in parts of Portugal, France and Northern Italy until this afternoon. Parts of Northern Scotland also have restrictions from 7 a.m. BST until 1 p.m. BST.

So what is the cruise impact?

Fortunately for cruisers travelling to Italy, Rome and Venice -- both popular cruise embarkation ports -- remain open.

However, Genoa is closed this morning through to 2 p.m. CET. It is a hub for Italian departures for MSC Cruises and today, MSC Fantasia is due to embark on a seven-night Mediterranean cruise. At this point, we haven't heard back from the cruise line as to whether any passengers are impacted.

In Portugal, Cruise Critic's contributing editor, Sue Bryant, has just been on a cruise on Uniworld's Douro Queen and is due to fly home from Porto today. The airport is currently closed, and Sue tells us that some passengers have gone to the airport to take their chances, and others have remained in the lounge at the port.

She also tells us that Uniworld is allowing people to stay onboard for now, but passengers will arrive later today for the next cruise, assuming they can get to Porto, and that cruise is scheduled to operate.

Yesterday one of Spain's busiest airports, Barcelona, was closed down along with 18 other Spanish airports. The airports in Spain have reopened this morning.

NCL's Norwegian Jade and Royal Caribbean's Voyager of the Seas both turn around in Barcelona today, and at this point, neither cruise line is reporting disruptions in getting passengers to the port.

All passengers travelling to impacted airports are advised to check with their airline for the latest information.

We'll keep you posted.

--by Kelly Ranson, U. K. Editor