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  #1  
Old January 31st, 2013, 02:35 AM
SailingSparty SailingSparty is offline
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Long-time reader, first time poster...

We decided to overlook the largely negative reviews from Americans and book an 11 night Eastern Mediterranean aboard the Costa Pacifica embarking Rome on November 11, 2013.

This decision was made solely because we really liked the itinerary, which is scheduled to include stops in Ashdod, Port Said, and Alexandria. Given the recent unrest in Egypt and the Middle East (combined with the fact we chose this ship only because of these ports) should we cancel? That is, what do you feel are the chances the Costa will actually dock in Israel and Egypt?

Thanks in advance for the feedback.
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  #2  
Old January 31st, 2013, 07:24 AM
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azevedan azevedan is offline
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My $0.02. If you want to be sure to get there, do a land tour. You'll also have more time in the ports. Then you yourself can make the decision as to whether you want to go when the time comes.
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  #3  
Old January 31st, 2013, 08:27 AM
tring tring is offline
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I agree with the idea of doing a land tour as land holidays often seem to go ahead when cruise companies pull the ports, but Israel is not a cheap holiday destination.

The area has been unsettled for a long time on and off, so who knows what the situation will be by November - it could even be pulled last minute if something happens, but could go ahead as scheduled. There are a few other threads in the the Africa and Middle East section which give info on what has happened in recent months, so look or search for them.

We are booked into Haifa, Alexandria and Port Said for February. Ashdod, which is near Gaza, was pulled for a second day in Haifa. Trips to Jerusalem are still to be run from Haifa, but as it is 137 miles we are not going. You can do the Nazareth and Galilee trip from Haifa and we intend to go to Akko (acre) by train the first day - it is a major crusader town which looks very interesting and is an easy journey.

We are still currently scheduled to visit the Eyptian ports, but we are somewhat sceptical that we will. Do you realise that the pyramids are a 3 hour each way trip and that they (and the Israel trips) are just above the £100 mark for a one day trip - even at P&O prices. They do not even go to Cairo nowadays, so you would not get to see the Egyptian museum. Alexandria looks good as a port in its own right though and I have heard it is interesting on deck in Port Said as you see the traffic going in and out of the canal. Realising that, made us decide not to go on that trip anyway, so we will do a land holiday sometime. Things seemed to be settling down a bit in Egypt yesterday and the curfew has been reduced. Morsi is looking to get business from Europe to move there and the economic situation is so bad in Egypt that he may have to do something to get things to settle down soon.

If there are any safety concerns at all the ports will be pulled.
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  #4  
Old January 31st, 2013, 09:43 AM
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cruisemom42 cruisemom42 is offline
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As others have said, one option is a land trip rather than a cruise. I've done land trips in both Israel and Egypt and each was no more expensive than a cruise (although Costa may be cheaper). I agree you will see a lot more -- and there is a lot more to see in both countries.

I can't tell if you are American or not, but in the US you can also purchase a "cancel for any reason" travel policy, should you want to take your chances on the cruise but minimize the risk. I think you have to purchase these within a short window after you book the trip, however.

Costa, being a European line and one that makes this run fairly often, is probably somewhat less likely to make a decision to pull the ports far in advance. They'll probably wait until closer to sailing to figure out whether the safety concerns are enough to warrant changing their schedule.

Last fall I was scheduled to go to Tunisia on a Swan Hellenic cruise and around the same time, my parents were also scheduled for a stop in Tunisia on a Holland America cruise. Their stop in Tunisia was cancelled; my two stops proceeded with no problems.
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  #5  
Old January 31st, 2013, 11:24 AM
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havcamwiltravel havcamwiltravel is offline
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When the Alexandria port of call was cancelled on a cruise we had booked for June 2011, my wife and I instead booked a land trip to Egypt. It was barely 5 months after the Revolution. Before we left, we were warned by many friends (and a few who posted on this site) that it wasn't safe, but we watched the news carefully, read all we could from others who were returning from their own trips and decided that for us, it was safe enough to go.

We were not in any way disappointed and in fact, never once felt unsafe. We booked with a highly recommended and experienced agency in Egypt. They reassured us that our safety was uppermost in their priorities and that we would avoid any areas where there were demonstrations.

It has to be said that Egypt is going through a very difficult period and that tourism is certainly at an all time low but that actually creates a situation that the adventurous tourist can take advantage of: that the awesome sites in Egypt are uncrowded. For us, it was very hard to witness so many suffering because of the lack of visitors and we did our part to leave some money behind, but while we were there, we often found ourselves alone in many sites where in normal circumstances there would be thousands of tourists. What an experience!

I have said many times on this site that if you wait for Egypt to be calm and completely safe, you will never go. There is risk in every trip. Be vigilant, read everything you can, book with a trusted agency and enjoy the trip. Best of luck.

Last edited by havcamwiltravel; January 31st, 2013 at 11:30 AM. Reason: Corrected sentence structure
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  #6  
Old January 31st, 2013, 12:23 PM
John Bull John Bull is offline
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Israel & Egypt have been unsettled for decades. We kept putting them off waiting for things to settle down, before eventually realising that if we waited til everything was hunky-dorey we'd never get to either.
US cruise lines do tend to pull the plug rather too early & too easily, Brit cruise lines are rather more stoic, not sure about Costa.

Sailed Haifa & Ashdod with RCI, excellent. That cruise was also originally scheduled for Alex (or Port Said) but long before we booked it had re-scheduled to Athens instead. In the event, Egypt was totally trouble-free & we sailed into Athens straight into a general strike
One or two other cruises - just like Tring's experience - at the last minute stayed in Haifa or went elsewhere in preference to Ashdod because at the time rockets were being lobbed into Ashdod from Gaza. Haifa is much more stable than Ashdod.

Visited Cairo several times, no problem but its the luck of the draw.
Last cruise, just a few weeks ago, we had to skip Cairo - because of a sandstorm at Port Sokhna.
Disappointing for those who'd never been, but again luck of the draw.

Prospects are that your Costa cruise will work to schedule. But November is a very long way away, plenty of time for lots of incursions between now & then & all settled down by November. I certainly wouldn't cancel at this stage.

Cruise vs land tour? I've always taken the attitude that if neccessary ships can re-schedule last-minute & go somewhere else. Hotels tend to stay pretty-much in the same place, so if something flares up significantly your holiday will be cancelled & you'll be scratching round last-minute for an alternative.

Separate matters re Costa.
1. Ships are very Italian, food etc is orientated to Italian tastes & customs, english-speaking passengers will be a sizeable minority, Italians tend to be quite noisy & excitable but also very friendly. I don't think there's an italian translation for "queue" so sharpen your elbows
If you're expecting an experience like say P&O or Princess or Royal Caribbean you'll be very disappointed. If you enjoy mixing with other nationals & are prepared to go-with-the-flow you'll be fine.
2. Some english-speaking tours can get cancelled last-minute due to insufficient numbers. Shouldn't be a problem with Cairo, & other ports are done better & cheaper independently anyway.
3. Check times in port. Italians tend to cruise for the cruise & not the ports, Costa & MSC often have only half-days in port. A lot of cruiselines offer overnites in Haifa/Ashdod/Cairo ports, a big bonus.

Just MHO as always

JB
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  #7  
Old January 31st, 2013, 12:50 PM
tring tring is offline
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SailingSparty

If you are UK based, you will find Thomson do some good value 2 or 3 centre package holidays using their charter flights, (3 nights in Cairo combined with 11 nights Luxor, or with a 7 night Nile cruise and 4 nights Luxor). Discover Egypt, also do similar things which are better priced nearer to departure. Thomson are also very good at getting you home early if there are problems in an area. I would not trust Thomas Cook so much now, as they seem to delay a bit sometimes and the company is a bit cash strapped at the moment, so you do not know what may happen with the company. Any prebooked Israel packages seem to be much more expensive from the UK - there could be other ways of doing it, but their hotels look very expensive..

cruisemom42

Interesting about the difference between Swan Hellenic, (our favourite cruise line) and Holland America regards their pulling Tunisia. It is my perception that the lines taking a number of American passengers seem to cancel ports more readily than the standard British ones, but I could be wrong. Swan Hellenic, of course, taking mainly Brits with some other nationalities as well and our experience tells us that 'Swans' are not easily deterred from their travels - we have a photo of someone climbing into a Zodiac to land on St Kilda with their crutch! A couple of other people ended up with broken bones that day, but still felt it was great to have been given the chance to land on somewhere so remote.

There was ony a fairly small window after 'The Arab Spring of unrest' that Tunisia was off limits for our standard package hols - and it is a very commonly visited country from the U, and it is a very tourist friendly country to travel round on Public transport or with car hire. Elections can sometimes cause worries of course.

Just seem the news and are now wondering if we will go to Israel!!!! Will post result when we get back in March.
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  #8  
Old January 31st, 2013, 01:01 PM
tring tring is offline
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Just read John Bull's comments and would thoroughly agree regarding note 1 on Costa and could well believe notes 2 and 3. We travelled on a South China Sea itinerary where most passengers were Brits or Australians and had a couple of Italians come on a rain forest trip with us as the italian one was not ran - they talked loudly through all the guide's speeches and chain smoked - choking both us and the forest wildlife!

Safety was also grossly neglected on that ship and when my husband lost his wedding ring, it took the room steward to translate to the non English speaking reception staff.

Last edited by tring; January 31st, 2013 at 01:06 PM.
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  #9  
Old January 31st, 2013, 05:01 PM
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Pushka Pushka is offline
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Maybe they were just rude people and nothing to do with being Italian?
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  #10  
Old January 31st, 2013, 05:29 PM
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cruisemom42 cruisemom42 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tring View Post
cruisemom42

Interesting about the difference between Swan Hellenic, (our favourite cruise line) and Holland America regards their pulling Tunisia. It is my perception that the lines taking a number of American passengers seem to cancel ports more readily than the standard British ones, but I could be wrong. Swan Hellenic, of course, taking mainly Brits with some other nationalities as well and our experience tells us that 'Swans' are not easily deterred from their travels - we have a photo of someone climbing into a Zodiac to land on St Kilda with their crutch! A couple of other people ended up with broken bones that day, but still felt it was great to have been given the chance to land on somewhere so remote.
Yes, we had several little events on our cruise -- such as strong winds preventing us from entering the harbor at Civitavecchia (thus missing Rome), and arriving in Athens on the day of a massive scheduled strike. The passengers and staff took it all in stride. There was no muttering about refunds or bad decisions by the captain. Very refreshing. (And quite right.)

My only tiny quibble is that there was very little info available for those wanting to do things on their own instead of taking the planned tours. Some other lines have been more helpful in that regard. But many other things were fantastic on Minerva, especially the lecturers -- a big selling point for me.

In regards to the autumn cancellations of Tunisia last year by lines that cater to the American market, there was quite a tempest in September when the US embassies in Tunisia and Libya were attacked on the anniversary of 9/11. The attack on the Tunisian embassy tends to get overshadowed by the more serious consequences of the Libyan attack, in which the US ambassador and others were killed.

Unfortunately, Americans are not always the best loved travelers abroad.
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  #11  
Old February 1st, 2013, 07:10 PM
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azevedan azevedan is offline
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We sailed a Costa cruise in the Caribbean over the holidays one year.
Good stuff: entertainment was bad enough to be good.
Fun-loving people.
We loved the food.
Bad stuff: Unbelievably disorganized. They couldn't tender people off the boat in ideal conditions; it's no surprise to me what happened in that accident. We missed 1/2 time in some ports because of tendering problems. (And yes, Costa tendered a lot, even where others docked.)
They wouldn't let you on your Costa-arranged land tour if you got off the boat early to look around and then tried to meet up with the tour as it left.
Smoking...as has been mentioned. Much higher percentage of Europeans smoke, and some of them don't obey no-smoking signs in the few locations that have them. Pretty aggravating.

We did a land tour in Egypt (and Jordan) last March and had no problems. Tourism was just starting to come back then, but places were much less crowded. The best stuff IMO is down at Karnak and Abu Simbel. Pyramids were nice (we even climbed up inside the Great Pyramid), and the Egyptian Museum was fabulous, but I loved Karnak and Abu Simbel.
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  #12  
Old February 2nd, 2013, 02:02 PM
Mexfolkart Mexfolkart is offline
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We returned from Egypt Nov. 29. Had no problems at all..we were on a land tour that included a 7 day Nile Cruise. The tour company we went with is no longer doing that trip but Tauck is and our friends were on that the exact same time we were on ours..Check them out..one benefit with a land tour is that they can move things around day by day. For instance..
we had been scheduled to go to Egyptian Museum on a Friday. Our guide moved it to Thursday to avoid any chance of a problem, and on Friday we went to Sakarra. Easy to do on a Land Tour..plus we did have a cruise..7 days on the Nile..absolutely fabulous.
We were so glad to see it all..and when not crowded. We also loved Karnak..completely unexpected, and Abu Simbel.
Sherry & Kimber
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