Local Strikes Forces MSC Cruise Ship Last-Minute Port Change

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Guests setting sail on MSC Cruises’ MSC Euribia on Thursday, December 14, 2023 have been notified of a last-minute embarkation port change due to a local strike that will close the Le Havre cruise port that day. Instead, the ship will depart not from France as originally planned, but from Belgium.

The cruise line is providing transportation to the new embarkation port if needed, at no charge, and there appears to be no other adjustment to the ship’s itinerary.

MSC Euribia Embarkation Port Change

MSC Euribia‘s December 14, 2023 sailing is a 7-night Northern Europe cruise. The ship was originally scheduled to depart from Le Havre (Paris), then visit Southampton, England; Hamburg, Germany; Rotterdam (Amsterdam), Holland; and Zeebrugge (Bruges), Belgium before returning to Le Havre on Thursday, December 21.

Guests will now be seeing Zeebrugge much earlier in the itinerary, as due to a strike the ship will be unable to dock in Le Havre on December 14 and will spend an extra day in Belgium instead.

“Due to a port operatives strike that will result in the port’s closure, we regret to inform you that MSC Euribia will be unable to dock in Le Havre, France on 12/14/2023,” the notification read. “The call to Le Havre has been cancelled, and the ship will spend an extra day in Zeebrugge, Belgium.”

The two ports – Le Havre, France and Zeebrugge, Belgium – are 400-500 kilometers (250-310 miles) apart from one another depending on whether the coastal route or the Paris route is chosen, which is a 4-5 hour one-way drive.

MSC Euribia Cruise Ship
MSC Euribia Cruise Ship (Photo Credit: StudioPortoSabbia)

Fortunately, MSC Cruises is arranging complimentary bus transportation for guests to reach Zeebrugge from multiple points. Buses will leave from three different locations at three different times to accommodate different travelers’ plans.

  • Le Havre Cruise Terminal – buses depart at 9:30 a.m.
  • Paris City Center (5 Avenue de la porte des Ternes, near Porte Maillot) – buses depart at 10 a.m.
  • Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (Terminal 2F, Door 4, Arrivals) – Buses leave at 11 a.m.

“This will ensure you can embark on MSC Euribia and enjoy your cruise without any further disruptions,” the notification read.

Guests can also make their own travel arrangements to reach Zeebrugge if they prefer, though private arrangements will be at their own cost with no reimbursement. If travelers do make their own arrangements, they are asked to contact their travel agent to let the cruise line know so all guests are accounted for in shuttle transfers.

“We thank you for your understanding and we look forward to welcoming you aboard MSC Euribia!” the letter concludes.

The 184,011-gross-ton, Meraviglia-Plus-class MSC Euribia is MSC Cruises’ newest ship, having just debuted in June 2023. The ship can welcome 6,327 guests aboard, and is also home to more than 1,700 international crew members.

Embarkation Port Changes Are Rare

While changes to ports of call are relatively common for cruise ships – ports are often adjusted due to weather, security concerns, natural disasters, overcrowding, or other issues – changes to embarkation ports are much less frequent.

MSC Euribia LNG
MSC Euribia LNG (Photo Courtesy: MSC Cruises)

In May 2023, Royal Caribbean International’s Explorer of the Seas was forced to change embarkation ports from Ravenna to Trieste in Italy due to local flooding that made it impossible for travelers to safely reach Ravenna. The cruise line did provide transfers, as the two ports are 385 km apart (240 miles), similarly distant as from Le Havre to Zeebrugge.

In July 2022, Holland America Line’s MS Rotterdam changed embarkation ports from Amsterdam to Rotterdam, which are roughly one hours’ driving distance apart (80 km / 50 miles).

In Europe, embarkation port changes can be managed slightly better than for US cruises because of differences in laws about how and where travelers can embark or debark a cruise ship. Most US cruise ports are also not close together, with the exception of ports in Florida, as the Sunshine State is home to five different embarkation ports.

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