How Unrest Is Changing The Face of Mediterranean Cruising
Photo courtesy of Silversea Cruises
Our current world is a volatile place as terrorist attacks spark modifications to travel plans and cruise itineraries. But just as the Mexican Riviera has begun to rebound after concerns of violence, so too will Mediterranean itineraries hopefully return to normalcy.
In the meantime, cruise travel to ports in France and Turkey has most been affected recently. Many cruise lines are opting to skip Nice, and beyond Istanbul alone, ships are now avoiding Kusadasi additionally. Many companies are deploying more to the likes of Italy and Greece as a result of increased security concerns amid the attacks in France and the attempted military coup in Turkey.
Also less in favor for the sake of security among cruise lines is Egypt following its own domestic turmoil. Similarly, the Holy Land has also suffered from sustained volatility over the years, but ships do still call on ports such as Ashdod for Jerusalem access and Haifa for Nazareth access.
Holland America Line, for example, lists a 14-day Holy Land Explorer itinerary for fall 2016 that highlights Israel and still features two destinations in Turkey – Marmaris and Kusadasi for Ephesus – but whether or not the company will actually make those stops by then is unknown at this time. All the cruise companies are constantly monitoring such destinations to ensure the security of their passengers.
I recall a marvelous Holy Land cruise I took several years ago aboard Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Equinox that included Egypt, Israel and Turkey. To now think that two of those countries could be entirely off the list is saddening. These are epic destinations steeped in religious history, and it's bizarre to see so many now erased from itinerary maps, but safety must always come first.
Of course, there are plenty of alternative ports in the Med that cruise lines can send their ships to instead, with extended overnight calls in some instances. Greece certainly must be appreciative of increased traffic to boost its struggling economy, and perhaps less frequented ports will see an uptick too. It mostly comes down to which destinations can best accommodate based on infrastructural capacities and course proximities. Italy and Greece are never far off, but some remote islands are.
Nevertheless, receiving more attention now is Malta with stops at Valetta. The aforementioned Holland America Line itinerary even showcases an overnight there as well as a day each in the island destinations of Mgarr, Gozo and Larnaca, Cyprus. And the African continent is not entirely off-limits either as Viking Ocean Cruises, for instance, heads to Algiers, Algeria and Tunis, Tunisia even if not Egypt on its 15-day Grand Mediterranean sailing.
As unfortunate as it is to see so many hallmark Mediterranean ports bypassed, it would seem the unsung heroes are starting to have their day in the spotlight now, and that’s exciting in its own right.
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