Snowstorms in the United Kingdom Impacting Christmas Cruise Travel

December 19, 2010

Update, 10:30 p.m. EST: Heathrow will be open and operating a limited schedule of arrivals and departures from 6 a.m. BST on Monday morning, according to a statement posted on the airport's Web site. However, further cancellations and delays are expected in the coming days, as airlines move diverted aircraft and crew back to their normal positions and the airport deals with the impacts of the poor weather over the weekend and in the days ahead.

(11:30 a.m. EST) -- Heavy snowfall and frigid temperatures in the United Kingdom have caused thousands of flight cancellations at Britain's largest airports, upending Christmas travel plans for would-be cruisers and holidaymakers.

After being closed on Saturday, Heathrow Airport will not be accepting arrivals on Sunday, and will only manage a handful of departures as the airfield team continues to deal with the impacts of Saturday's weather. Those impacted are being asked to contact their airlines. (See the Heathrow Airport Web site's list of airline contact information.)

Gatwick's runway is open today and operations are returning to normal, reads a post on the airport's Web site. "Knock-on delays and cancellations are likely throughout the day due to the ongoing impact of snow across Northern Europe." The airport is asking passengers to check with their airlines for flight status information.

A report from the U.K. Press Association notes that other regional airports, including Stansted, Luton, Exeter, London City, Aberdeen, Birmingham, Bristol, Southampton, Cardiff and Birmingham, would be subject to delays and cancellations today.

At least one flight portion of a fly-cruise has been impacted by the blizzard. P&O Cruises posted on its Facebook page that a Sunday evening flight for those heading to Apaculco to board Oceana has been delayed until 9 a.m. on Monday morning. The ship is scheduled to depart from Acapulco at 6 p.m. on Wednesday as planned. P&O said it is contacting all affected passengers today.

On the Cruise Critic message boards, a number of members have posted about cruise plans foiled by the flight cancellations. "I'm finding it hard to unpack all the cases," writes icantwait2cruise, who was unable to make it to Cape Liberty today to board Explorer of the Seas. "Now have to make plans for Christmas ... let us hope there are a few turkeys left!"

According to a CNN report, forecasts indicate that more snow may be on the way on Monday.

We'll keep you posted.

--by Dan Askin, Associate Editor