MSC Cruises and Silversea have cancelled voyages through the Red Sea.
But Royal Caribbean will press on with its nine-month Ultimate World Cruise. It includes the region, despite recent attacks on maritime vessels.
Shipping vessels in the Red Sea have been attacked by Yemen’s Houthi movement, prompting the US to send naval forces to support ships travelling through the Suez Canal. But the US Navy has also been attacked.
MSC Cruises cancelled three repositioning grand voyages for April as it said there were no viable alternative itineraries. Cancelled sailings include MSC Splendida’s 24-night voyage from Durban, South Africa to Genoa, MSC Opera’s 21-night sailing from Dubai to Genoa, and MSC Virtuosa’s 23-night cruise from Dubai to Southampton.
The line has cancelled itineraries from mid-January to mid-February on Silver Moon, because of the danger posed by transiting through the Red Sea. Silversea cancelled Silver Moon’s voyages between Muscat and Dubai, scheduled from January 16 to January 26, and Dubai and Mumbai, scheduled from January 26 to February 11.
“The voyage between Mumbai and Singapore, scheduled between February 11 and February 29, is currently scheduled to proceed as planned,” a Silversea spokesperson said in a statement. “Our global security team continues to closely monitor the situation in the region. We will make any additional changes if required.”
While online rumours circulated that Royal Caribbean’s Ultimate World Cruise would stop short of its 274-night voyage around the world because of the unrest, the line confirmed that the cruise would continue. The Middle East destinations are scheduled for May.
“Royal Caribbean’s Ultimate World Cruise will continue its current schedule as planned,” a spokesperson said in a statement to maritime media.
“The safety of our guests and crew is our top priority,” it added. “In collaboration with our Global Security team, we continuously monitor the situation in the region and make any necessary adjustments. Guests will be notified directly of any changes.”
P&O Cruises UK
Kevin Turnock, a P&O Cruises’ customer scheduled to arrive in Sydney and depart for the UK on Arcadia on February 22, 2024, wrote to the UK Telegraph complaining that customers were not being properly informed. Arcadia is scheduled to transit the Red Sea and Suez Canal on its return to the UK.
“Unfortunately, there currently appear to be almost daily missile and drone attacks on shipping in the Red Sea area. I can’t imagine P&O sending a big white ship complete with Union Jack livery through the area anytime soon,” he wrote.
“I have been trying to contact P&O since November for an update to try and determine if my cruise will be cancelled (as many cruise lines have already announced for itineraries involving the Red Sea), re-routed via Africa (as at least one cruise line and multiple commercial shipping companies have already done), or cut short and passengers flown home from say Singapore or Sri Lanka.
“However, to date, I have typically received no response or, in one case, a message which states: ‘We are constantly reviewing the situation, any amendments that may need to be made to any of our itineraries will be communicated to our guests.’
Some vessels have opted to take a longer east-west route via the southern tip of Africa to avoid the Suez Canal. Others have opted to head Europe without passengers, sailing around the west coast of Africa with no ports of call on their journeys to their respective European homeports for the summer 2024 season.
Azamara, Cunard, HAL itineraries remain unchanged at this stage. Holland America Line’s Zuiderdam is scheduled to sail in the Red Sea in mid-April, as part of its 2024 Grand World Voyage. All lines continue to monitor the situation.