ITINERARIES to Russian ports were gearing up to be among the hottest tickets on the international cruise scene, but all that changed with the tense situation on the Ukraine-Crimea front. Unless there is a sudden downturn in the crisis across the region, would-be cruise passengers are likely to adopt a “wait and see” approach on future bookings..
Right now all cruise lines are closely monitoring the political situation, and will change itineraries immediately if the safety and security of their guests and crew members are at risk.
The Russian river cruise season takes off soon with many cruises scheduled along the increasingly popular Neva-Volga rivers between St Petersburg and Moscow.
Viking Cruises, the world’s fastest growing river fleet, is closely monitoring the situation in the Ukraine, and the company’s managing director for Australasia, Teresia Fors, has told australiancruisingnews.com that its 11-night Footsteps of the Cossacks sailings on the Dnieper River from Odessa to Yalta, Sevastopol and Kiev, do not start until May.
“At this point we have not altered schedules or noticed significant passenger cancellations, but we are monitoring the political climate in Ukraine closely and will continue to do so in the coming weeks. In the meantime, our thoughts and support are with the Ukrainian people,” Ms Fors says, vikingrivercruises.com.au
Luxury Australian operator Scenic has 15-day cruises on Scenic Tsar between St Petersburg and Moscow from May and these remain unaffected for now. However, Scenic has cancelled its Ukraine land tour extension for the rest of 2014, www.scenictours.com.au/
Another Australian river operator APT says it is monitoring events and there is no change to the status of its Russia cruise departures with the first sailing on May 22, aptouring.com.au
Uniworld is another major operator on the Russian river scene, and the company’s general manager, John Molinaro, says it is business as usual for now, uniworld.com.au
Ocean cruise lines are also monitoring activities as Azamara, Celebrity, Holland America, Oceania, Regent Seven Seas, Silversea and Windstar are all due to call at the Black Sea port of Sevastapol in the Ukraine, and to other ports there. in coming months.