Norwegian Cruise Line has reached out to guests onboard the current sailing of Norwegian Gem about itinerary changes designed not to avoid a port of call, but to preserve one.
The alterations are being made to ensure guests are able to visit Venice, with adequate time to enjoy the beautiful city.
Tendering Not Viable for Venice
Guests aboard Norwegian Gem for the next 10 days are going to visit all the ports of call that had originally been scheduled for their one-way voyage between Ravenna and Athens, but not all in the expected order, and with one alternate port being used for guests to reach the originally scheduled port.
The disputed port is Venice, which has implemented limits on cruise ship traffic and ship sizes in order to preserve and protect the Venice Lagoon. Because of this, Norwegian Gem has recently been tendering guests rather than docking, a solution that has not worked out as successfully as the cruise line had hoped.
“While we have made every effort possible to maintain calls to Venice, the tender operation and overall experience this provides our guests has fallen short of the standard we aim to deliver,” the letter to guests read.
Local marine traffic, docking conditions, and the time to tender so many passengers – Norwegian Gem has a capacity of approximately 2,400 guests – may all be factors in adjusting the operation.
“As a result, our call to Venice will be replaced with a call to Trieste, Italy and arrangements have been made to ensure all guests still have the opportunity to explore the magical city of Venice.”
To facilitate this change, the itinerary has been modified to visit Koper, Slovenia first, then Trieste. From Trieste, guests will be able to visit Venice. The distance between the two northern Italian cities is approximately 160 kilometers (100 miles), which is roughly a 2 hour drive.
The cruise line is adjusting NCL-purchased shore tour times to coincide with the new visit date and incorporating the journey from Trieste to Venice. If particular tours cannot be rearranged, they will be fully refunded to guests’ onboard accounts.
Norwegian has also arranged for complimentary transportation between Trieste and Venice for guests who wish to explore the enchanting city without an organized shore tour. Full details of those arrangements are available from the ship’s Shore Excursion Desk.
Other Ports Adjusted to Compensate
Because of the itinerary change to make visiting Venice possible, three additional ports of call on the 9-night “Greek Isles” itinerary have also been altered.
The visits to Koper, Slovenia; Split, Croatia; and Kotor, Montenegro have all been shifted to different days. Port times have also been slightly adjusted, and guests will now leave Koper two hours earlier than planned.
The time in Split is radically changed and will now be from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. rather than from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. as originally scheduled, while the ship will arrive in Kotor three hours later than planned.
Shore tours for all three destinations will be automatically adjusted. Guests with independent tour arrangements will need to contact their tour operators for cancellation or adjustment options as available.
The remaining ports on the itinerary have not been changed, and the ship will visit Dubrovnik, Croatia as well as Corfu, Santorini, and Mykonos in Greece as originally scheduled. Likewise, the ship’s arrival in Piraeus (Athens) on Wednesday, June 28 is unaffected.
Future Cruises Likely to Change
While these itinerary changes are only confirmed for the June 19, 2023 departure of Norwegian Gem, it is likely that similar itineraries in the next few weeks will also be adjusted, especially if the changes are successful in permitting guests to continue to enjoy Venice, a bucket-list destination for many travelers.
The June 28, July 17, and July 26 departures may all be impacted, and guests booked on those upcoming sailings should stay in close communication with Norwegian Cruise Line for updates.
Norwegian Gem is a Jewel-class vessel that joined the Norwegian fleet in 2007, and is offering a variety of Mediterranean cruises through early December, at which time the ship will reposition to Miami, Florida for the winter, before moving to Boston in late March, 2024.