CRUISE lines repositioning ships to the northern hemisphere at the end of the Australasian summer season are rapidly revising itineraries to avoid Red Sea transits.
Virgin and Silversea are two to have announced substantial voyage updates but many more are expected to follow as security threats make usual routes of return to the Mediterranean and Europe completely unsafe.
Virgin Voyages’ Resilient Lady will now sail via South Africa when it leaves Australia at the end of March for Europe.
“We remain concerned about potential escalations in this part of the world [Middle East] over the next 12 months and the risk that this presents for safe passage through the region. As a result, we have been left with no choice but to make changes to Resilient Lady’s repositioning voyage taking place on 27 March,” the company said.
“In place of her former repositioning voyages, the award-winning Resilient Lady will now be departing from Sydney, embarking on an iconic, once-in-a-lifetime sailing around the coast of Africa with a brand new route stopping in Eden and Fremantle in Australia, Port Louis (Mauritius Islands), Durban and Cape Town (South Africa), Walvis Bay (Namibia), Praia (Cape Verde), Santa Cruz de Tenerife (Spain), Casablanca (Morocco), Barcelona (Spain), Valletta (Malta), as well as Santorini and Piraeus (Athens) in Greece – all with extended time at sea,” the company said.
“All passengers on these former three legs of the repositioning voyages will have guaranteed spots on these sailings at no additional cost and a price protection commitment in place. If these dates are not convenient, they can receive a Future Voyage Credit based on their paid balance or a full refund. We know that based on our conversations with passengers and travel partners, they understand the complex geopolitical challenges that have arisen making this change necessary.
“With the very likely continuation of this escalated regional conflict top-of-mind, and in an effort to minimize further disruptions to our passengers’ future vacation plans, Virgin Voyages is now conducting a full review of other geographically similar repositioning voyages and linked sailings. We will provide an update in the coming weeks on any further changes we will need to make.”
Meanwhile, Silversea Cruises has advised of the cancellation of additional cruises in the Indian Ocean and Asia due to the geopolitical situation in the Red Sea region.
“Our Global Security Team has been closely monitoring the geopolitical situation in the Red Sea region, which continues to remain fluid and escalating. Under their advisement and in align with our industry counterparts, we have been forced to amend Silver Whisper’s scheduled navigation, and therefore, cancel your voyage,” the company said.
Silver Whisper is currently cruising in Australia but instead of re-positioning through the Suez Canal is now expected to sail around Africa without passengers ahead of a summer program in the Mediterranean.
Other Silversea vessels affected include Silver Spirit and Silver Moon, although neither is operating in local waters.