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Cruise lines cancel calls to Russia after conflict with Ukraine

Travellers booked on cruises that stop in Russia may have their travel plans disrupted due to the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings is closely monitoring the situation, with CEO Mr Frank Del Rio saying: “We are following the situation carefully as it impacts our voyages in the area. We have no vessels in the region until late May and we will be updating guests on our plans and about affected itineraries as needed.”

The company’s CFO Mr Mark Kempa added that they were looking at offering alternative ports.

“Worst case scenario, if we’re not able to call on St. Petersburg or the surrounding areas, there’s plenty of other ports in that Scandinavian region that we have the ability to call on. Not a huge impact, obviously a bit disappointing because that is a premier port. But there are viable, very attractive ports that are available.”

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings is the parent company of Norwegian Cruise Line, Regent Seven Seas and Oceania Cruises. Between them, the three cruise brands have 50 itineraries this year that include a stop in St. Petersburg, with St. Petersburg calls amounting to 5% of the company’s summer schedule.

Although the company has not seen any cancellations, Mr Kempa was prepared for various outcomes and expected a slowdown in the number of bookings however it was too early to know what the long-term impact would be.

He added: “Europe is a big continent. This is affecting a very small portion of Europe and there’s a lot of other areas where we can operate, especially the med where we have significant capacity.”

Mr Del Rio noted that it was disappointing.

“St. Petersburg is one of the crown jewels of the Scandinavian itineraries.”

When asked if Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings would relocate ships from the Baltic to the Med, Mr Del Rio said that would not happen regardless of what happens with calls to St. Petersburg.

So far only one cruise line, Atlas Ocean Voyages has cancelled calls to the Baltic port of St. Petersberg, Russia.

They have instead substituted two ports in Finland – Kotka and Mariehamn on the Baltic cruises departing on 26 August and 7 September. The voyage departing on 7 September also includes a port call to Saaremaa, Estonia.

Atlas Ocean Voyages President, Mr Alberto Aliberti said in a statement: “Atlas Ocean Voyages’ top priority is the safety and comfort of our guests and crew. With unrest in Eastern Europe, we have adjusted our voyages and replaced our Russia calls with equally exciting and charming destinations in Finland and Estonia.”

Atlas Ocean Voyages said that one ship it planned to send to the Baltic, the 196-passenger World Navigator would remain there and visit alternative ports such as Mariehamn, Finland and Saaremaa, Estonia.

Meanwhile, Carnival Corporation, which operates several cruise lines including Carnival Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, Holland America Line and Seabourn is monitoring the situation closely.

Guests planning to travel with Holland America Line, P & O Cruises, Princess and Seabourn can still purchase staterooms on sailings that include a call to St. Petersburg.

Travel advisors have not seen too many cancellations, with many agents fielding questions from travellers. Some agencies however are not taking new bookings in the region.