As tensions and fighting continue in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, more cruise lines are removing St. Petersburg, Odessa, and other ports of call in Russia and Ukraine from their itineraries, and adjusting sailings to new routes.
Other major lines, including Carnival Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean International, and Celebrity Cruises, continue to monitor the situation and will make adjustments if needed.
More Cruise Lines Remove Russia Ports
While no cruise ports have been immediately impacted by the Russia-Ukraine conflict at this time, cruise lines are taking no chances at ensuring the safety of passengers and crew members.
Atlas Ocean Voyages, a small ship line offering “luxe-adventure” expedition cruises to elite destinations, was the first line to cancel calls to St. Petersburg. Shortly thereafter, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings announced the cancelation of Russian ports for all three of its cruise lines – Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises, and Regent Seven Seas Cruises.
While Atlas Ocean Voyages only had two scheduled calls in Russia in 2022, the combined voyages from Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings means approximately 50 port calls will no longer happen, as the company has canceled all Russia calls for the remainder of the year.
Other cruise lines that have already announced the cancelation of Russian ports of call include Viking Cruises, SAGA Cruises, and Windstar Cruises.
Each cruise line has released similar statements about the cancelations, stressing that alternate ports are being investigated and impacted travelers will be contacted as soon as more information is known. First and foremost, all cruise operators are emphasizing safety.
“We are currently working to confirm replacement ports and will remain in close contact with our partners in the region,” said Windstar Cruises President Christopher Prelog. “We prioritize safety above all and will be monitoring this situation very closely, amending itineraries as necessary.”
“We are currently evaluating itineraries that call in Russia in 2022, which will require modifications,” a Viking statement read. “When necessary changes are made, Viking Customer Relations will notify all impacted guests and their travel advisors.”
A number of different itineraries are impacted, including sailings labeled as Baltic explorations, Northern European itineraries, Black Sea sailings, Russian highlights, and similar titles. Some world cruise sailings are also being adjusted, substituting alternative ports.
Other Cruise Lines Monitoring
Not all cruise lines are immediately canceling calls in Russia and Ukraine, but they are monitoring the situation and will make adjustments as needed. This includes Carnival Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean International, MSC Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, and Holland America Line.
Lines that have not yet canceled calls in Russia may not have any scheduled stops in the country for several weeks or months, and therefore have some time to monitor the region before making a decision. There is no telling at this time how long the conflict may last, how violence may spread, or how port communities could be impacted.
All cruise lines are keeping in touch with booked passengers in order to communicate any changes as soon as possible. An email sent to Royal Caribbean passengers booked on a Russia sailing stated:
“At this time, our intention is to sail to St. Petersburg; however, we have secured alternate ports, should we feel that changing our itinerary is the best path forward. You and your travel advisor will be the first to know should we decide to formally change our itinerary.”
If cruises are unable to call in Russia, nearby ports in Finland, Sweden, Estonia, Poland, and other countries are possible alternatives, depending on port schedules, ship routes, pier capacities, and other factors.
Passengers booked on itineraries calling in or near Russia or Ukraine should stay in close communication with their travel advisor or the cruise line for updates. Watching cruise lines’ official social media accounts, website travel advisories, and email notifications can help keep travelers updated on itinerary changes.