Q – It is now six months prior to our scheduled cruise in Europe – our first ever, and we’re getting a little nervous since the attack in Istanbul. That happens to be where our cruise begins and we’re scheduled to go in a day early. We’ve done everything through the cruise line, Regent Seven Seas, so there hasn’t been any communication at all about what happened in Turkey and our calls have not really been responded to with any details. Is there any advice you might offer as this whole situation is a bit frightening. This will only be our second time in Europe – the first time we visited England and Ireland.
A – Crystal Cruises has announced it will be altering all calls that had included ports in Turkey. As we are responding, Regent executives are in meetings to determine a policy concerned with guests, such as yourselves, who would like to change itineraries. We expect Regent to remove Istanbul as a port, likely substituting Athens in most cases given the available airlift.
You should follow the advice of your agent. Do nothing right now. Be patient. If you were to cancel; before the new policy was announced you would be liable for any cancellation charges. If Regent changes the itinerary, they will likely give you an option of accepting the new, non-Turkey itinerary or they may permit you to select any other 2016 itinerary based on availability without any cancel penalty.
The cruise lines are pulling out of Turkey in response to a January 14th memo from the State Department advising of an increased threat level specifically involving terrorist actions against government buildings and “major tourist sites.”
This does not mean that Istanbul is truly dangerous. We would visit the city in a heartbeat as it is still statistically much safer than most American urban areas. But when the State Department does issue a warning of this type, cruise line legal departments have concerns about issues of liability. Be calm and don’t worry. No major cruise line is going to place its half a billion dollar product in harm’s way.
Since it appears you have not yet made your final payment, given the cruise is six months away, we would urge you to turn the booking over to the best cruise consultant in your area. This is easy to do and it may get you additional benefits and a significantly higher level of personal interest and care. We would like you to meet face-to-face with someone to discuss your concerns and we certainly want someone monitoring safety issues on your behalf. Keep in frequent touch with your travel agent for updates. It is best for you not to contact the cruise line directly as you will only get through to commission-based sales people.