Crisis in Ukraine could impact Black Sea cruises
Cruise lines that offer summer sailings in the Black Sea are coming up with contingency plans that include significant changes to itineraries should the?crisis in the Ukraine?escalate, according to executives at the annual Cruise Shipping Miami conference.
Windstar Cruises CEO Hans Birkholz tells USA TODAY the company is looking at ports along the north coast of Turkey and elsewhere in the region as alternatives to stops in the Ukraine on three Black Sea sailings scheduled for the summer.
Birkholz says the company has seen a drop in new bookings and cancellations of existing bookings for the Black Sea trips in recent weeks as tension over the Ukraine’s Crimea region intensified. Two of the stops on Windstar’s Black Sea cruises — Yalta and Sevastopol — are in the Crimea.
“We face a challenge,” a top executive for the cruise industry association, Robert Ashdown, told attendees this week during a panel discussion on issues in Europe. But “the benefit of the cruise industry is that the ships are mobile, and so we always can move away from that area if there is any hint of a safety issue.”
Celebrity Cruises CEO Michael Bayley and Tui Cruises CEO Richard Vogel echoed Ashdown’s comments during the panel discussion, saying they were ready to redeploy vessels scheduled to visit the Ukraine should safety for passengers come into question.
“That we can switch from one day to the other to the safe destination, this is the big advantage we have,” Vogel said.
Still, Vogel noted that despite the situation in Ukraine his line saw strong interest in a 2015 sailing in the Black Sea that went on sale for the first time last week along with other 2015 voyages.
“It was one of the best-booked cruises,” said Vogel, noting that the itinerary included the port of Sochi, Russia that recently was in the spotlight as the site of the Winter Olympics.
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Source: Gene Sloan (2014). Crisis in Ukraine could impact Black Sea cruises, USA Today http://www.usatoday.com/story/cruiselog/2014/03/14/black-sea-cruise-ukraine/6410151/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+UsatodaycomTravel-TopStories+%28USATODAY+-+Travel+Top+Stories%29 published Mar 14, 2014. Viewed Mar 17, 2014.