Snow Going: Will U.K.'s Foul Weather Impact Fly-Cruises?

December 3, 2010

Update, 6:15 a.m. EST: Gatwick Airport has reopened this morning although flights are subject to delay or disruption.

(2 December) -- The U.K. continues to be hit by heavy snow that has ground much of the country to a halt, with airport closures and delays on the roads and rails. So what does this mean for the sea-bound?
Fortunately, ex-U.K. cruises haven't felt the impact, as most ships are already mid-cruise or they are already further afield for the winter season. (That said, Daily Mirror cruise blogger Captain Greybeard -- who's on Cunard's Queen Elizabeth -- said the ship's departure last night was delayed slightly from Southampton due to the late arrival of 300 passengers on a disrupted train).
For passengers heading out on fly-cruises this week, it's a different story. Airport closures at Gatwick (which will remain shut until at least 6 a.m. Friday), Edinburgh, London City, Southampton and other regional airports including Doncaster are causing major headaches. On the plus side, Heathrow is still open and operating flights.
Here's a roundup of what we know from the cruise lines so far:
P&O Cruises passengers are due to fly out tomorrow (Friday) to join Ventura in Barbados for a Caribbean cruise. The cruise line tells us that its Thomas Cook flight will now depart from Stansted airport, and travellers are being offered transport to the airport. For passengers on the Thomson flight, P&O Cruises has said in a statement that the flight from Gatwick is, at this point, scheduled to depart and the line is advising passengers to travel to Gatwick as planned.
Thomson Cruises has had to reschedule today's flights from Gatwick, Dublin and Bournemouth to join Thomson Celebration in Sharm el Sheikh until tomorrow morning. Its Doncaster flight has now been cancelled.

Meanwhile, any passengers due to disembark Thomson Celebration today are being provided accomodation until flights are running again.

The ship will depart as scheduled this evening, and passengers who have been delayed will have the opportunity to join the ship at the weekend. They are being contacted directly by Thomson's customer service team. Passengers can contact 02476 282 501 for help with any flight delay questions.

Royal Caribbean told us this afternoon that it hasn't had many guests impacted, as most passengers are travelling from Heathrow to reach cruises overseas. However, Gatwick passengers are being offered the following options:

-- To join their chosen cruise at a different port if the flight can be changed to London Heathrow and connection made.

-- The opportunity to change their cruise holiday if their flight is not operating with no extra transfer fee.

-- A full refund if a suitable alternative cannot be found.
NCL is posting alerts on its Web site and is advising any guests heading across the pond for a fly-cruise to check with their airline before travelling. Any guests needing assistance should contact 0845 201 8900.
Our advice: Contact your cruise line or travel agent to check your options before you to travel to the airport, and watch your step on the ice.

We'll keep you posted on any further developments.
-- by Kelly Ranson, U.K. Editor