Another Cruise Line Rethinks Red Sea Voyages

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Amid the persistent geopolitical tensions in the Red Sea, Crystal Cruises has announced changes to two cruises that were set to cruise through the region in coming months.

One cruise from India to Greece has been cancelled while another world cruise will be re-routed to avoid the Red Sea region, the cruise line announced on February 16, 2024.

Crystal Cruises Cancels One Cruise, Reroutes Another

Crystal Cruises is responding to growing uncertainty in the Red Sea by cancelling Crystal Symphony‘s March 27, 2024, voyage from Mumbai to Piraeus. 

Meanwhile, a 141-night world cruise on Crystal Serenity that departed Miami on January 18 will have several segments rerouted to avoid the region. The ship is still scheduled to return to Miami on schedule on June 8, 2024.

“In light of the current situation in the Red Sea, Crystal remains committed to prioritizing the safety and well-being of our guests and crew,” the cruise line announced. “We are in the process of notifying all impacted guests on both ships.”

Crystal Symphony‘s voyage was to take guests on a 17-night voyage from  Mumbai, India, to Piraeus (Athens), Greece, beginning March 27.

Stops were to include Jeddah (Saudi Arabia), Sharm El Sheikh and  Port Sokhna (Egypt), sailing of the Suez Canal, Paphos (Cyprus), Rhodes, Santorini, and Iraklion (Greece), and Kusadasi (Turkey).

“We greatly appreciate our guests and crew for their understanding and patience during this process,” the cruise line said.

Crystal Symphony Cruise Ship
Crystal Symphony Cruise Ship

The 51,044-gross-ton Crystal Symphony underwent a massive, multimillion-dollar renovation in 2023, refreshing and expanding the ship’s wellness facilities while updating and consolidating the guest accommodations. The ship now has a guest capacity of 606, down from the 960 guests it handled before work was undertaken. 

Crystal Serenity also lowered its guest capacity during 2023. The 68,870-gross-ton vessel can accommodate 740 guests, down from 1,040. 

On January 18, 2024, Crystal Serenity set sail from Miami for a 141-night world cruise that was originally intended to visit 62 destinations in 29 countries. 

Read Also: The Impact of Red Sea Tensions on Cruising

Crystal Cruises’ announcement did not specify which ports of calls would be eliminated or what the replacement stops would be. The ship will sail the South Pacific for the month of February. She was scheduled to arrive in the Red Sea area in April 2024. Crystal Serenity will reposition after the world cruise and begin Alaska cruise voyages in July 2024.

Growing Number of Cruise Lines Rethinking Red Sea Itineraries

Crystal Cruises is just one of several lines to adjust itineraries scheduled in the Red Sea region. In late January 2024, Carnival announced it would reroute itineraries for 12 ships across seven brands, including Costa Cruises, P&O Cruises, Seabourn, and AIDA Cruises.

Furthermore, AIDA Cruises canceled several spring 2024 voyages aboard AIDAbella, AIDAblu, and AIDAprima. MSC Cruises has cancelled three “Grand Voyage” cruises scheduled for April 2024 aboard MSC Splendida, MSC Opera, and MSC Virtuosa.

Cunard Queen Mary 2 Cruise Ship
Cunard Queen Mary 2 Cruise Ship (Photo Credit: chrisjj / Shutterstock)

Princess Cruises announced on February 1 that Island Princess would no longer be sailing to the Middle East or Asia. The ship set sail on a 111-night world cruise on January 4, 2024, with the intention of visiting 51 destinations and 27 countries.

Likewise, Cunard Line announced that Queen Mary 2‘s World Voyage would skip the Red Sea and instead sail up the west coast of Africa, bypassing stops in Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Jordan, Egypt, Greece, and Spain.

Red Sea Remains Important Seaway to All Vessels

The Red Sea has traditionally been a popular destination for cruise ships and guests who enjoy more exotic destinations. The body of water is an important navigational point because it connects the Mediterranean Sea to the Indian Ocean through the Suez Canal.

The recent activities of Houthi rebels in Yemen have prompted many cruise lines to heighten their focus on guest safety and rethink travel plans through the region. 

Ports of call in Egypt, United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia could be cancelled in the meantime. Cruise lines say they are committed to announcing changes to guests and travel agents as quickly as possible.

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