Update, 10:30 a.m. EDT: Of the decision to retain Bangkok as a port of call, Princess representative Susanne Ferrull says, "the port is not currently deemed unsafe by our security department, but it is considered unpredictable because of sporadic periods of unrest. By offering Bangkok as a port of call, rather than a turnaround port, we have the flexibility to reschedule the call, should the situation escalate at the time of the cruise."
(June 21, 6:20 p.m. EDT) -- Months of political unrest and violence in Bangkok have led Princess Cruises to replace Laem Chabang, the port for Bangkok, with Singapore as a port of embarkation and debarkation for its Asia and exotic cruises.
According to a Princess statement, 15 sailings on Diamond Princess and Ocean Princess between November 2010 and April 2011 will be affected.
At this time, Princess says it will offer rebooking assistance to travelers who booked their flights through the cruise line. Princess will also reimburse change fees for those whose flight and hotel arrangements were made privately. The line is offering to waive cancellation fees for affected passengers who wish to cancel their sailings.
On Cruise Critic's message boards and in e-mails to Cruise Critic, several passengers have expressed disappointment in the new itineraries; some say they have been unable to change their flights from Bangkok to Singapore, due to limited availability. "My ticket is already booked using frequent flyer miles and there are currently no seats available to Singapore," says Cruise Critic reader Deborah Liou.
Other affected travelers are expressing frustration at itineraries which have been altered beyond the replacement of Bangkok. Cruise Critic member Tennis Couple says Princess sent an e-mail to announce that Okinawa and Keelung would be replaced with Busan and Nagasaki on the April 20, 2011, sailing of Diamond Princess.
In May, the U.S. Department of State issued a travel warning, indicating a potential long-term threat to travel in parts of Thailand, including Bangkok. The warning was lifted in early June, and although Princess' statement blames unrest for the itinerary changes, Bangkok will, curiously, remain as a port of call on many of the affected itineraries. Princess officials are working to provide us with more information about why the line chose to keep the port on the itineraries.
We'll keep you updated as more information becomes available.
To chat with others on your sailing about this issue, check out Cruise Critic's Diamond Princess roll call forum or Ocean Princess roll call forum.
--by Ashley Kosciolek, Copy Editor