In a move that will surprise very few people, Costa cruises has become the latest company to cancel it’s winter programme of Red Sea cruises on Costa Voyager, citing continuing uncertainty and political unrest in the region as the reason for their decision.
This follows on from the decision of rival MSC to cancel the Red Sea programme of their cruise ship, Armonia (see last month’s blogs). She will instead be repositioned to the Canary Islands.
No new alternative itineraries have been announced for the Costa Voyager as of yet. Passengers on the cancelled cruises have the option of switching to itineraries in the UAE, operated by the much larger Costa Fortuna.
Passengers booked on Costa Voyager’s original, eleven night repositioning cruise in November are also being offered the opportunity to transfer to the Costa Fortuna on her repositioning cruise to Dubai.
it’s an anything but ideal trade; most passengers choose the far smaller, 28,000 ton Voyager for her size, warmth and intimacy. These are things that the 102,000 ton plus Fortuna is pretty much bereft of.
The cancellations affect all seven night sailings from Sharm El-Sheik from November 25th through till April 14th, 2014.
In addition, Costa has also cancelled the calls planned at Alexandria and Suez for Costa Pacifica beginning from October 4th, and Costa Serena, beginning on December 15th. These will be replaced with extended calls in Haifa and Ashdod, Israel.
in the announcement, the company notes that it will continue to monitor the situation in Egypt. Any decision to return there will be made in light of that, but it is still far too late for the 2013/14 season. The disruption is massive, and obvious.
It involves cancelling twenty-one cruises in all. The Costa Voyager has a maximum capacity of 927 passengers, accommodated in 418 cabins, served by a crew of 353.
On Costa’s own figures, that now leaves the company to fill something like 19,500 berths from scratch, assuming a suitable replacement itinerary can be found. And all of this over a three month lead in period. It must be the stuff of nightmares for the Costa shoreside department.
I don’t see there being much cross decking from the svelte, elegant Voyager to the vast, hulking Fortuna.
That said, Costa is between a rock and a hard place with this one- a perhaps unfortunate euphemism, bearing in mind recent events. But as things stand in the increasingly volatile Middle East, options for all the cruise lines are getting very thin on the ground.
My guess is that we are about to see another redeployment to the Canary Isles circuit. Stay tuned.