Egypt Cruises: Some Lines Bring Back Calls, Another Scraps Them Through December

February 16, 2011

(1:30 p.m. EST) -- Following 18 days of political unrest in Egypt, cruise lines are all over the map when it comes to sailings in the region. The latest wave of changes has been the most polarized, with MSC canceling port calls in Egypt for its entire season (which runs through December) and Discover Egypt and Thomson Cruises reinstating Egypt calls.

The U.S. Department of State has not yet lifted its travel warning and continues to recommend that travel to Egypt be avoided. Although the U.K.'s Foreign & Commonwealth Office no longer warns against travel to Luxor, a travel advisory still remains for Alexandria, Cairo and Suez.

We're keeping a close eye on developments, but here's the latest from the lines.

Abercrombie & Kent: All Egypt sailings through March 31 have been canceled, according to a statement on the Abercrombie & Kent Web site. Affected passengers may request full refunds or choose to rebook with the line at a 10 percent discount. However, line spokesperson Pamela Lassers tells us Egypt calls will resume, effective April 1.

Azamara Club Cruises: Azamara has canceled calls on Egypt for three Azamara Quest sailings through April. For details, see the statement on the line's Web site.

Costa: In a statement from Costa, the line has canceled calls in Egypt and Tunisia, which is also experiencing unrest. Red Sea cruises on Costa Allegra and Costa Marina will now focus on Jordan and Israel, with a turnaround at Aqaba. For Mediterranean itineraries that included stops in Alexandria, ships will instead call on Greece or Israel. On Mediterranean sailings that were to include stops in Tunisia, passengers will now visit Palma de Mallorca, Malta or Cagliari (Sardinia). Passengers are being given the option to either rebook on select sailings, use a voucher to book another 2011 sailing or receive a refund according to the terms of their individual contracts.

Discover Egypt: The line has announced in a statement that it will resume all Luxor and Nile River calls as originally scheduled, beginning February 28.

Grand Circle Cruises: Grand Circle Cruises has scrapped all sailings bound for Egypt through February 28. The announcement is on the line's Web site. (Scroll down, and click on the "Egypt Update" tab.) People booked on those sailings have the option to rebook on another sailing or take a full refund.

Louis Cruises: Louis Cruises has announced it will replace Alexandria and Port Said with Katakolon and Nafplion, respectively, on its February 20 and March 12 12-night "Eastern Mediterranean Highlights" cruises; Ashdod will also be replaced by Haifa where applicable. On the line's March 4 eight-night "Tunis, Malta, Italy" sailing, Tunis will be scrapped for Katakolon. On the April 8 and April 22 "Three Continents & Istanbul" sailings, Limassol and Santorini will replace Port Said and Alexandria, respectively.

MSC: The line has announced in a statement (bottom of page) that, until further notice, Egypt ports will be pulled from the line's itineraries for the remainder of the season (through December). Visits to Jerusalem, Heraklion, Haifa, Athens, Izmir, Limassol, Valletta and/or Taormina will replace stops at Cairo and Alexandria. No compensation will be offered to passengers for the missed ports, as the situation is beyond the line's control. However, itineraries may go back to normal if the situation changes.

NCL: A statement on Norwegian Cruise Line's Web site (yellow "News Alert" tab on left) says the line will replace Egypt calls on Norwegian Jade's March 27, April 17 and April 29 sailings with stops in Istanbul, Turkey. Because the situation is beyond the line's control, compensation will not be offered for the itinerary changes.

Oceania: Although the line is not due to call on Egypt until April, tentative itinerary changes to Oceania sailings have been drafted but have not yet been put into effect. If it becomes necessary to implement the changes, Nautica's April 20 voyage and Insignia's April 23 voyage will be affected. For more information, see the press release here.

Regent Seven Seas: Regent states on its Facebook page that no changes have yet been made, but line spokesperson Tim Rubacky tells us tentative changes have been made and will be implemented if the unrest continues. We're working on getting the specifics.

Royal Caribbean: RCI has announced changes to itineraries for a Brilliance of the Seas sailing and four Mariner of the Seas sailings, running through early July. Port fees and costs for shore excursions in canceled ports will be refunded to passengers. For more information, click here to read the line's travel updates.

Thomson Cruises: A statement from Thomson Cruises says the line will resume its normal Nile River calls, beginning February 23, but excursions in Cairo remain suspended. Red Sea cruises will resume with Thomson Spirit's March 3 sailing.

Titan HiTours: Titan spokesman Hugh Clayson has said the line plans to resume its Egypt sailings, beginning in mid-March.

Uniworld: In a statement, Uniworld announced the cancellation of all Egypt sailings through March 31. Passengers may choose to rebook or receive full refunds. For sailings in April and May, no cancellations have yet been made, so refunds are not allowed, but those booked on those sailings can rebook with no penalty.

Viking River Cruises: Viking's Egypt cruises are canceled through March 31, according to a statement from the line. Anyone booked on an affected sailing can rebook with no penalty or choose a full refund.

Voyages to Antiquity: The line has announced that two scheduled sailings -- "Carthage Must Be Destroyed" and "Everything in Alexandria Was Superlative," each with port calls in Egypt and/or Tunisia -- have been scrapped. Instead, Voyages to Antiquity will be offering a new Athens-to-Rome cruise April 4-18. Passengers booked on the original sailings can choose to book the new itinerary, to book a different sailing later in the year or request a full refund.

We're curious: Given the unrest in Egypt, will you return to the country or consider a cruise? Vote in our poll.

--by Ashley Kosciolek, Copy Editor

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