In light of the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, Royal Caribbean International has decided to remove calls to Russia, and has finalized itinerary changes for Voyager of the Seas‘ upcoming visits. Though the ship had been scheduled to visit St. Petersburg, that port has been removed and alternative calls planned.
St. Petersburg Removed From Itineraries
Though Royal Caribbean initially planned to maintain calls in St. Petersburg on upcoming “Scandinavia & Russia” cruise itineraries, the cruise line has now decided to remove the Russian port of call from Voyager of the Seas‘ sailings in the upcoming months. This is in line with other cruise lines canceling Russian ports of call, including Carnival Cruise Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, MSC Cruises, and many other cruise lines operating in the region.
Royal Caribbean said in a statement, “The safety of our guests and crew is always our top priority. We are continuously monitoring events taking place around the world, including the situation in Ukraine. With the recent events, we have made the decision to cancel our visits to St. Petersburg, Russia on all Summer 2022 itineraries. We have planned alternative ports and will communicate itinerary changes to our guests and travel partners.”
Emails to booked guests have confirmed the itinerary changes, including a substitute port of call and a change to dates of other port visits to accommodate the route change. The emails detail the changes for guests’ individual bookings, which vary depending on the sailing date and overall initial itinerary.
For example, the 7-night sailing departing on May 15, 2022, will no longer visit St. Petersburg on May 19, but will instead feature an overnight call in Stockholm, Sweden on May 17. Because of the change, the call on Tallinn, Estonia, which was planned for May 18, will instead be on May 19 to accommodate the distance between the ports.
The time spent in Tallinn has also altered slightly, and will now be from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. (10 hours) rather than from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (9 hours). This gives guests an extra hour to explore this unique and charismatic port.
Similar changes are expected for other 7-night sailings, and guests will be notified as their individual sailings are altered.
Longer Itineraries Altered More
Voyager of the Seas‘ longer sailings, 10- and 11-night voyages, also had planned to visit St. Petersburg, and are being similarly changed to remove the Russian port of call.
To compensate, additional time is being added to Stockholm, Sweden at embarkation – the Voyager-class ship will now not leave until the day after guests arrive at the ship, permitting exploration of that glorious city even before the ship sets sail. The call in Riga, Latvia, has also been extended to an overnight visit for more time in port and more options for in-depth shore tours.
A call on Aarhus, Denmark, has been added to the itinerary, and like the shorter voyages, the call on Tallinn, Estonia has also been shifted but is still on the cruise schedule.
“We’re terribly sorry for this unexpected change, and we hope you’ll enjoy everything these incredible destinations have to offer!” the email reads, after giving guests details on their new ports of call.
Shore Tours Affected
Any pre-booked shore tours for St. Petersburg are being automatically refunded to guests’ original forms of payment. Tours for Tallinn are also being rescheduled to the new port day as appropriate, and guests will be emailed updated tour information.
As itineraries are confirmed, guests can also plan and pre-book tours in their new ports of call via the online Cruise Planner.
Royal Caribbean is being very understanding about these itinerary changes, recognizing that St. Petersburg is a once-in-a-lifetime destination for many visitors. The email notifying guests of the port cancelation notes that “we understand this was an unexpected change and may not work for everyone.”
If guests no longer wish to sail on an altered itinerary, they may request a full refund of any portion paid of the cruise fare, including non-refundable deposits. Guests must make that decision by March 15, 2022, and can request the refund by contacting their travel advisor or Royal Caribbean directly.
Prepaid amenities – shore tours, gratuities, spa treatments, etc. – will also be refunded back to the original form of payment within 30 business days.