Q – We’re in a similar situation to one of your recent letter writers. We’re booked on Princess Cruises and we’ve really not heard anything yet about major itinerary changes, refunds etc. involving Istanbul. You seem to always miss Princess in your Q & A as well as your reviews and I wonder if you could make a greater effort to update those of us booked on this line? What is Princess likely to do with our cruise?
A – We really appreciate your comments but please understand this is not a mass market “Cruise Site.” We devote all of our energies to the upper end of the cruise market, the world’s top ten cruise lines. Lots of existing web sites claim to have “reviews”, self-appointed “critics”, and user forums where marketing folks pretending to be actual cruisers vent their views. This is not that. We have little interest in rating, reviewing, or recommending floating shopping malls that are totally dependent on generating on-board revenues to cover their costs. Think of us as dealing exclusively with ships that carry fewer than 1,000 guests in the top tier of product quality and service.
The attack in Istanbul and the reaction to it has really caught some of the cruise lines off guard. The Paris attacks did not generate a significant number of cancellations for travel within France, cruise or otherwise. In fact, from a business perspective, Paris was really a rather small blip and France remains the most visited tourist nation on earth. But the attack in Istanbul has generated a greater than anticipated level of concern and cancellations. The reach of ISIS into a Muslim country that is a centerpiece of Mediterranean cruising, has caused some high levels of travel anxiety. Ships that carry a few hundred guests can change itineraries faster, significantly faster, than mega-lines who have to find port clearance for a huge vessel as well as supportive shore facilities, available guides/tours/hotel/security/ and fuel and water.
At this point, and this is a rather fluid situation, we do think that given the challenges of moving four or five thousand people on flights in or out of Istanbul, some lines will maintain current itineraries. Look for tours of major tourist areas in Istanbul to be operated under guard.
Whether or not a cruise line will complete scheduled calls in Istanbul is going to end up being primarily a business decision.