Red Sea tension has forced Crystal to cancel its Chairmen’s Cruise which had offered guests the chance to sail alongside travel industry heavyweights.

The voyage which included A&K Travel Group Executive Chairman, Manfredi Lefebvre, and Geoffrey Kent, Founder & Chairman Emeritus of Abercrombie & Kent was set to depart April 2, from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia aboard Crystal Symphony.

The six-night Chairmen’s Cruise voyage was among other Red Sea casualties announced by Crystal.

“Due to the ongoing situation, we have made the difficult decision to cancel the 2024 Cruise from Mumbai to Piraeus (Athens) on Crystal Symphony from March 27 to April 13,” the company announced.

“Additionally, we are re-routing several segments of the 2024 World Cruise on Crystal Serenity to avoid this area. However, this will not affect the overall voyage length, and the ship will arrive in Miami as originally scheduled on June 8, 2024.”

Red Sea tension rises

Houthi militants in Yemen began attacking shipping vessels in the Red Sea late last year, prompting cruise and cargo ships to avoid the Red Sea and the Suez Canal, the shortest maritime route between Asia and Europe.

Several cruise lines have announced reroutings due to Red Sea tension, including Aida Cruises, Costa, Cunard, Holland America Line, MSC, P&O Cruises, Princess, Seabourn and Silversea.

Carnival Corporation has become the latest to announce changes to itineraries. It confirmed it will reroute 12 ships across seven of its brands in May to avoid passing through the Red Sea.

The changes were made after continued attacks by the Iran-backed Houthi militia in Yemen.

Will you get a refund?

Passengers booked on the three cancelled MSC ships can transfer their booking to a future Grand Voyage of a similar duration for free. Or they could rebook to any other cruise on an MSC liner with either a partial refund or additional payment to make up the difference in price of the original booking. If none of those options suit, passengers can get a refund. All pre-purchased onboard items and shore excursions will also be refunded by MSC.

Normally, if Royal Caribbean cancels a voyage, or delay embarkation by three days or more and you elect not to sail on the delayed voyage or a substitute voyage, you can obtain a refund or a future cruise credit.

Normal practice is to issue a future cruise credit automatically, but you may instead contact Royal Caribbean to request a refund.

Forfeit or change flights

Passengers are also being advised to contact their travel agent for advice on flights to or from ports. Usually booked separately, passengers may not be entitled to get a full refund for their flight but might be eligible for a credit or to change their date of travel.

Those with insurance should contact their insurer. 

What cruise lines say as Red Sea tension rises

Carnival Corporation said in a statement it was “committed to the safety and well-being of its guests and crew”. It had been “actively monitoring the situation in the Red Sea and surrounding region”.

MSC cancelled three repositioning “Grand Voyage” sailings in April to avoid the Red Sea.  Seabourn and Carnival-owned Costa Cruises have announced cancellations and amendments to Middle East itineraries.

“Given recent developments on the security environment and future uncertainties in the area, working in close consultation with global security experts and government authorities, we have made the difficult decision to cancel the cruise that was originally planned,” Costa said in a statement sent to those due to travel on the 19-night cruise from United Arab Emirates to Italy.

Seabourn has cancelled Seabourn Encore’s voyage departing on March 2, 2024, from Hong Kong to Dubai. It will now end in Singapore on Saturday, March 16 rather than on April 3 in Dubai. The following cruise from Dubai to Athens has also been cancelled.

Seabourn Sojourn’s 34-day 2nd May “Empires of the Sun” voyage (5419) from Singapore to Athens along with the 36-day 16th March Encore sailing (7419A) from Singapore to Athens have both also been cancelled.

“The 18-day sector (7419) on 16th March Singapore to Dubai is also cancelled along with Dubai to Venice on the Encore (7422A) on 3rd April for 18 nights.

“Other sailings due to travel in the first half of this year may also be affected.

Seabourn will be in touch shortly with those affected by these changes. The ship will now sail empty from Singapore via Cape Town up to the Mediterranean to commence her Mediterranean season.”

Passengers are being offered full refunds.

Princess World Cruise

Princess Cruises has confirmed it would need to reroute world cruises aboard two of its ships, Island Princess and Coral Princess.

“Regrettably Island Princess’ World Cruise, which departed from Los Angeles on January 18, 2024, will no longer visit the Middle East (including Dubai) or Asia,” reads a statement from Princess Cruises.

“Instead, the itinerary has been revised to visit ports of call in Australia. It will then travel to South Africa and sail to the west coast of Africa.

“From there the ship will proceed north to Western Europe and the Mediterranean, after which it will continue with its scheduled Atlantic crossing.”

The world cruise schedule is being reworked.

Earlier this month, MSC Cruises cancelled at least three repositioning voyages due to depart in April. This included a 24-night cruise on board MSC Splendida from Durban, South Africa to Genoa, Italy as a result of the tension in the Red Sea.

Silversea also confirmed that it had cancelled two upcoming voyages on board Silver Moon and “amended” the itinerary of sailing between Aqaba, Jordan and Muscat, Oman to allow guests to disembark in Piraeus, Athens.

This story was last updated on February 19.