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Asia’s leading cruise lines have stopped selling itineraries to South Korea following an order from the Chinese government.

The Chinese government directive to travel agents to stop selling cruise holidays to South Korea follows South Korea’s decision to go ahead with the deployment of its anti-missile defensive system.

Royal Caribbean is one of those which has cancelled its itineraries to South Korea.

“We have adjusted several of our itineraries in response to circumstances in the region. Affected guests have been notified of the changes,’’ a statement from RC said this morning.

Carnival’s Costa Cruises said in a statement it would “remove calls to South Korea ports for our upcoming cruises homeported out of China, replacing them with cruising at sea or calls to destinations in Japan,’’ according to Travel Weekly Asia.

Princess Cruises and NCL have also taken similar action to cancel their Korea-bound services from China, said a report from The Maritime Executive.

China is Korea’s biggest inbound market for cruise holidays.

South Korea and Japan are the main cruise destinations on popular four and five-day itineraries preferred by Chinese holidaymakers.

With South Korea off limits, cruise lines out of the ports of Tianjin and Shanghai will now divert to Japan.

If China’s ban continues into the busy summer season, the diversion could overwhelm the port capacity in Japan and possibly curtail demand for cruises in China because of the lack of variety in destinations.

The Chinese and Russian governments have objected to the installation of the missile defence system in South Korea because the system employs powerful radar technology that the two countries claim would be able to see into their territories.