Japan Cruise Update: Three More Lines Cancel Calls

April 4, 2011
Japan-map (5:45 p.m. EDT) -- Weeks after the major earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the country is still reeling from the effects of the natural disaster and working to contain its damaged nuclear power plant. Because of the uncertainty, more cruise lines have decided to cancel calls to the island nation, including Holland America, Royal Caribbean and Silversea Cruises.

We reported earlier that Princess Cruises has decided to scrap port calls to Japan through May. The one exception is that Ocean Princess, which departs Shanghai on April 13, will still visit Okinawa (the most southern prefecture) on April 15.

Here are the current itinerary changes from other cruise lines:

Royal Caribbean
Royal Caribbean has canceled all port calls to Japan, necessitating changes to Legend of the Seas' deployment schedule between April 23 and July 16. The new itineraries, including new turnaround dates, are now available on Royal Caribbean's Web site and open for booking. They include two- to seven-night itineraries out of Singapore, Hong Kong and Shanghai.

Passengers booked on canceled sailings out of Yokohama will receive a 100 percent refund of their cruise fare. Plus, travelers booked on the April 23, May 8, May 16 and May 24 sailings will receive a 10 percent future cruise credit, while travelers booked on the April 30 sailing will receive a 20 percent future cruise credit. For all sailings departing between May 24 and July 16 (excluding three charter cruises in June), booked passengers who choose to cancel will receive a full refund plus a 10 percent future cruise credit.

Holland America
Holland America has made changes to Volendam's Asia itineraries, including a 35-night sailing departing April 14 and the 17-night sailing departing May 2, which overlap. (An 18-night sailing also leaving April 14 remains unchanged.) The line has canceled calls in Yokohama (for Tokyo) on May 4-5, Hakodate on May 7 and Kushiro on May 8. The revised itinerary will still call in Kobe on May 2 (a port stop for those on the 35-nighter and a turn-around port for travelers on the shorter segments), but will follow this schedule afterward: scenic cruising, May 3; Busan, South Korea, May 4; sea day, May 5; Vladivostok, Russia, May 6; sea days, May 7-9; Petropavlovsk, Russia, May 10. The rest of the itinerary will take place as scheduled.

Passengers booked on the 17- and 35-night cruises will receive $250 in onboard credit and a future cruise credit equal to 10 percent of the base cruise fare paid for the sailing. In addition, Holland America will handle all arrangements and costs for visas for Russia. Travelers who wish to cancel instead will receive a full refund for all parts of their booking made through Holland America; however, such requests must be received by today.

Passengers booked on the shorter, 18-night sailing departing on April 14 may choose to cancel for a full refund if they don't feel comfortable flying out of Japan at the end of their cruise. However, as no ports of call have changed on this itinerary, no future cruise credit will be available.

Silversea Cruises
Silversea Cruises has decided to cancel Japan calls on Silver Shadow's Asia voyages, departing April 15 and 27 and May 7 and 17. Itinerary changes are as follows:

April 15: Silver Shadow will skip calls in four Japanese ports and will now overnight in Qingdao, China on April 22; spend April 24 and 25 in Tianjin, China; and conclude April 27 in Incheon (Seoul), South Korea, instead of in Tokyo.

April 27: This sailing will depart from Incheon, and skip the scheduled Hiroshima call on April 29. Instead, scheduled calls in Busan and Jeju will now occur on April 29 and 30, respectively, with a new call in Dalian, China, added on May 2.

May 7: Similarly, Silver Shadow's May 7 cruise out of Shanghai will call in Dalian, China, on May 12, and its scheduled calls in Jeju and Busan will now occur on May 14 and 15, respectively. It will skip its scheduled Hiroshima visit, and the cruise will conclude on May 17 in Incheon instead of Tokyo.

May 17: Silver Shadow's final Asia cruise will depart Incheon, with two days at sea replacing the calls in Japan. The rest of the itinerary remains the same.

Penalties still apply for passengers on these voyages who wish to cancel. However, passengers on the May 17 sailing (where there are no replacement ports of call) will receive a future cruise credit equal to $1,500 or $2,500 depending on cabin category. The credit is valid for travel before December 15, 2012. Passengers booked on the other three sailings will receive a free two-day Beijing tour.

Costa Classica has its first scheduled call in Fukuoka, Japan, on May 11. According to a company statement, no itinerary changes have been made yet, but "Costa is in constant contact with local and international authorities to carefully monitor the situation as it evolves."

We'll keep you posted regarding any further changes.

--by Erica Silverstein, Features Editor