Japan Cruise Update: Oceania, Royal Caribbean Cancel Calls; Princess Waits

March 16, 2011
(1:15 p.m. EDT) -- In the wake of Friday's devastating earthquake and tsunamis, Oceania Cruises and Royal Caribbean have canceled upcoming calls in Japan. Meanwhile, big-ship line Princess Cruises remain in wait-and-see mode and have left its Japan cruise schedule unchanged.

Here's the latest run-down:

Royal Caribbean. Legend of the Seas -- Royal Caribbean's year-round, Asia-based ship -- skipped its scheduled call in Fukoka on March 16. The ship will proceed directly to Busan, South Korea, its next scheduled call. Legend's following sailing, scheduled to depart Shanghai on Saturday, March 19, has been altered. The ship will now call on Cheju Island, South Korea on Sunday, March 20, and stay overnight in Hong Kong, China from 8 p.m. Tuesday (March 22) until midnight on Wednesday, March 23. Legend of the Seas will return to Shanghai on Saturday, March 26 as scheduled. Legend was originally set to visit three Japanese ports, Kagoshima, Beppu, Japan and Fukuoka.

In a statement, the line said that it has "been closely monitoring the situation in Japan since the earthquake and tsunami, especially the status of the damaged nuclear reactors. We are aware that several countries have issued advisories discouraging travel to Japan, and many of our guests have expressed concern about whether it is safe to call there."

Passengers who chose to sail on the revised itinerary will receive an onboard credit. Guests who choose not to sail on March 19 will receive a full refund.

No additional announcements have been made about Legend's future cruises.

Oceania Cruises. Oceania's Nautica, which is currently in the middle of a 15-night Far East cruise, will bypass upcoming calls in Hiroshima (March 18) and Kobe (March 19, 20). Spokesman Tim Rubacky called the decision the "prudent thing to do" in light of the "Japanese government focusing all available resources on the rescue and recovery effort." The new itinerary replaces the stops in Hiroshima and Kobe with additional days in Shanghai and Kaohsiung and an overnight stay in Hong Kong at the tail end of the voyage. Importantly, the ship's call in Naha, on the island of Okinawa, which is well south of the Japanese mainland, remains unchanged.

Princess Cruises. Princess Cruises, which has Diamond Princess, Ocean Princess and Sun Princess scheduled to visit Japan in the coming weeks, has not altered itineraries yet. Sun Princess, set to arrive in Nagasaki on March 28, is the first of the three ships scheduled to call in Japan.

Over the weekend, port closures forced Cunard to cancel Queen Mary 2's call in Nagasaki and Azamara Club Cruises to divert Azamara Quest from Osaka.

Although cruise ports haven't sustained notable damage, the U.S. Department of State has issued a travel advisory, which cautions against unnecessary travel to Japan.

We'll keep you posted.

--by Dan Askin, News Editor