Update: Volcanic Ash Cloud Causes Chaos for Scottish Travelers

May 24, 2011
Update, 3:30 p.m. EDT: Eurocontrol, the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation, is predicting more cancellations Wednesday as the cloud floats toward Denmark, southern Norway and southwest Sweden. Adds the organisation: "However, given the new procedures in place and the predicted movement of the ash cloud over the coming days, the actual impact on flights is expected to be relatively low."

(8 a.m. EDT) -- Travelers from Scotland faced delays today as airlines cancel flights in response to the spreading ash cloud from the Grimsvotn volcano in Iceland. This could affect passengers joining cruises. British Airways has canceled all flights between London and Scotland until later this afternoon, while Dutch carrier KLM, which offers a big network of flights from regional U.K. airports into its Amsterdam hub, has cancelled flights to and from Aberdeen, Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Newcastle as well as flights from Durham Tees Valley Airport. Easyjet and Ryanair have cancelled flights from the major Scottish airports, although BMI continues to operate from Glasgow and Edinburgh. Both Cunard and Saga Cruises have departures from Southampton today that could be affected if joining passengers are delayed. A Cunard spokesman told Cruise Critic this morning that it was too early to say whether the ash cloud would cause passengers to arrive late for check-in and a decision would be taken later today about whether it would be necessary to delay Queen Mary 2's departure. A spokesman for Saga, meanwhile, says the company has rearranged travel via Manchester for a passenger who was due to fly from Edinburgh to Southampton this morning. In a statement, Royal Caribbean said it has seen minimal impact to passengers following the cancellation of some Scottish flights. The line is offering to rebook any 'fly-cruise' passengers whose flights are canceled.

Spokespeople from NCL, Seabourn, P&O, Princess and Costa said their respective lines are closely monitoring the situation, but that there are no changes to report.

Saga's Spirit of Adventure also ends a cruise in Greenock today and passengers whose flights to London have been canceled are being transfered by coach instead. MSC Cruises is the only line with a ship due to call at Icelandic ports this week. A spokeswoman told us today that a decision still hasn't been made about whether to cancel. The good news is that the situation may not be as bad as last year, when U.K. airspace shut down. The Civil Aviation Authority now grades the threat from ash as low, medium or high, so there's less threat of a total shutdown, although the ash density over Scotland is predicted to be rated "high" this afternoon. The wind, too, is constantly changing, so there is a chance that the cloud will change direction. We'll keep you posted on the situation. --by Sue Bryant, Cruise Critic Contributing Editor