Greek Strikes Over Austerity Measures Spark Cruise Changes

October 20, 2011
Athens What's the issue?
(12:10 p.m. EDT) -- For the second day of a proposed 48-hour strike, Greek workers flooded the streets of central Athens to protest the government's soon-to-pass austerity measures. The protests again turned violent, and two cruise lines have already tweaked itineraries.

According to the Associated Press, violent rioters attacked peaceful demonstrators with firebombs and stones as tens of thousands, including civil servants, shopkeepers, dock workers, taxi drivers, doctors, lawyers, teachers, construction workers and others, turned out to show their disapproval over deep slashes in pay. But even as the protests continue, the New York Times reports that the strike showed some signs of easing on Thursday as air traffic controllers returned to work and flights resumed.

Cruise Critic member nick arch offered a report yesterday from the scene. "The area around Syndagma Square looked pretty rough," he posted on the message boards, "but if you walked five minutes away to the Monastiraki area or Acropolis Museum, it was business as usual."

Which ports and ships are impacted?
Royal Caribbean and Celebrity. "We flipped two of Vision of the Seas' ports of call," says spokeswoman Cynthia Martinez, who represents the sister lines. "The ship will now visit Rhodes on Thursday, October 20, and Athens (Piraeus) on Friday, October 21. Celebrity Constellation will also call on Athens tomorrow as scheduled."

MSC Cruises. Spokeswoman Cheryl Fenske tells Cruise Critic that due to current events in Athens, and to assure passengers full safety and comfort, MSC Musica modified its itinerary. The ship replaced Thursday's call of Piraeus with a call in Heraklion. MSC Melody has altered its itineraries, too, calling at Heraklion on October 19 and Piraeus on the 24th (instead of the other way around).

Oceania and Regent. According to Oceania spokesman Gary Gerbino, "Insignia was to call at Rhodes on October 19 (the first day of protest), so we went to Patmos instead." In a statement, he added that, "at Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises [sister companies], the safety of our guests and crew is our top priority. We are constantly monitoring the situation in Greece and making adjustments as needed." Seven Seas Voyager sailed yesterday from the port of Piraeus (Athen's nearest port) without incident.

We're still awaiting word from Seabourn, also in the region.

--by Dan Askin, News Editor