Snow Chaos: Latest Information From Cruise Lines

December 20, 2010

(8 a.m. EST) -- Heavy snow continues to disrupt travel across the U.K., with many airports closed or only partly functioning. As cruise passengers struggle to get away for Christmas, either on fly-cruises or from Southampton port, cruise lines are issuing regular updates.

Thomson Cruises has managed to reschedule almost all of its delayed flights and has a detailed list of new departure times on its Web site.
The company does, however, warn of long delays at Gatwick and little happening at Cardiff, Bournemouth and Exeter, which are currently closed. If you're stuck at an airport without internet access, the number for the customer delay line on 02476 282501 or you can text 82345 for updates.

Swan Hellenic has chartered an aircraft to carry passengers who were due to join Minerva in Dubai today. As the situation at Heathrow is so unreliable, the aircraft will depart Stansted tomorrow morning (December 21). Minerva will sail from Dubai at midnight tomorrow, a day late, and calls at Khasab and Sur will be cancelled. Passengers due to sail on Minerva who are not at the contact number they gave when they booked are asked by the line to call 0844 822 0850 urgently.

Cunard Line's Queen Victoria is scheduled to leave Southampton at 4.30 p.m. today on time and trains from London to Southampton are operating, although a spokesman for the company told Cruise Critic: "The ship will wait for a period for those delayed if we know where they are and the estimated time of arrival. Last time we had weather like this Queen Elizabeth was in Southampton and they waited till 7 p.m. for late arrivals even though scheduled departure was 5 p.m."

P&O Cruises is using its Facebook page to post regular updates. A spokeswoman told Cruise Critic: "All charters are scheduled to leave airports today therefore passengers will arrive at Oceana before she is due to sail tomorrow." The ship is due to sail from Acapulco on a 14-night Panama Canal cruise.

Fred. Olsen Cruise Line has issued a statement to say it has no current plans to delay the departures from Southampton of Black Watch today and Balmoral tomorrow (December 21) on 'Canary Christmas' cruises W1023 and L1022. A spokesman told us that the weather conditions were being monitored and a decision would be made nearer the scheduled departure time whether to delay either ship.

Royal Caribbean has a comprehensive page on its Web site with options for fly-cruise and cruise-only guests. There are currently no plans to delay Independence of the Seas' departure from Southampton tomorrow. The statement on the site says that Royal Caribbean staff were at Heathrow yesterday searching for stranded cruisers and putting those affected up in hotels. The same page is on the Celebrity Cruises Web site.
NCL's website says that all cruises are operating to schedule and passengers affected by flight delays can call 0208 834 9014.

What about scheduled flights?

If you're joining a ship and travelling via scheduled flight, the best point of contact is your airline or travel agent.
Heathrow Airport is open but with severe delays; click here for a list of airline contacts.
Gatwick is open, but with delays as airlines catch up from the weekend's cancellations. The usual online departures and arrivals board has not been working today but an alternative has been provided here.
Meanwhile, if your flight has been cancelled or if you simply want to understand your rights in the event of a delay, the travel trade association ABTA has a useful page on its Web site.
We'll keep updating as we receive more information, so do check back.

--By Sue Bryant, Cruise Critic Contributing Editor