Royal Caribbean has no plans to cancel visits to Russia, despite acknowledging that visiting the country is increasingly uncertain in a statement posted online. The same is valid for Celebrity Cruises which issued the same message.
For Royal Caribbean International, Voyager of the Seas is scheduled to operate cruises in the Baltic, including visits to St. Petersburg; Celebrity Apex and Celebrity Silhouette are scheduled to visit the popular Russian port for Celebrity Cruises.
Royal Caribbean Intends to Visit Russia
Despite the political ramifications and widespread sanctions that the EU, US, and the UK have implemented against Russia, Royal Caribbean says it still intends to include port calls to St. Petersburg at this time. The company has cruises scheduled this summer for both Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises.
In a letter sent to guests booked onboard one of the cruises to Russia, the company says it is closely monitoring the situation as it develops, but, as of now, intends to sail to St. Petersburg:
“With the recent events, it is increasingly uncertain if we can visit St. Petersburg, Russia, as scheduled. For your peace of mind, we want to share our plans.”
“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.”
As of now, the cruise line remains undecided whether sailing to Russia is the smart option. Royal Caribbean has Voyager of the Seas scheduled to sail to St. Petersburg on fifteen cruises between May 1 and August 21.
Celebrity Cruises has scheduled seven departures that include calls to St. Petersburg, departing on May 14, 26, and 30; July 8 and July 20; and August 13 and August 20, onboard Celebrity Silhouette and Celebrity Apex.
What Options Do Guests Have?
Although the events unfolding in Ukraine are thousands of miles from St. Petersburg, and there will likely not be any direct danger to guests, the sanctions that are being implemented worldwide, coupled with public opinion of contributing to the Russian economy, could mean that Royal Caribbean will cancel cruises to Russia either way.
Therefore, Royal Caribbean is offering guests on both Celebrity and Royal Caribbean International several options:
“We’re continuously monitoring events taking place around the world, including the situation in Ukraine. With the recent events, it is increasingly uncertain if we can visit St. Petersburg. We understand that the developments in the region may make you hesitant to sail to Russia, so here are some options to ensure you have the best time with us.”
The options for guests are to keep their current booking, with the knowledge that the cruise company has been working on alternatives. Guests can also use their Cruise With Confidence policy to opt-in for a Future Cruise Credit to be used on another sailing.
Guests can also opt to cancel their voyage and book a different cruise; guests can do this free of charge. Should Royal Caribbean opt to change the itinerary, guests will have the opportunity to cancel for a full refund.
Russia Travel Advice
Several cruise lines reacted to the events in Eastern Europe in the last 48-hours. Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings has been one of the first to cancel all cruises to Russia for its cruise lines. In the coming days, it is for than likely more cruise lines will follow.
The US State Department has issued a higher travel warning for Russia, putting the country at level 4: “Do not travel to Russia due to ongoing tension along the border with Ukraine, the potential for harassment against U.S. citizens, the embassy’s limited ability to assist U.S. citizens in Russia, COVID-19 and related entry restrictions, terrorism, harassment by Russian government security officials, and the arbitrary enforcement of local law.”
The travel advice from the State Department will be a guideline for the cruise lines on whether or not to visit St. Petersburg. If it does stay at level 4, it is increasingly unlikely cruises will be sailing to Russia.