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Ancient Wonders Of The Black Sea. May 2022


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Posted (edited)

Truro001 The reason I phoned Saga yesterday was to state despite my previous phone call we had not received either the revised itinerary or the excursion list, I apologise for not making this clear on my previous post

Edited by Nelson PK
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We were booked on the 24th April cruise and having received "the letter" found it very easy to change to the same cruise in 2023 and had surplus money which Saga allowed us to pay towards a July cruise this year.

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3 minutes ago, maesteggirl said:

We were booked on the 24th April cruise and having received "the letter" found it very easy to change to the same cruise in 2023 and had surplus money which Saga allowed us to pay towards a July cruise this year.

Can you tell us what the letter said please

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7 minutes ago, Banjo an said:

Just looked on www.cruisemapper.com.  And there is no mention of SOA visiting Limassol in June.        

Cruisemapper is not an official site. It's made by collecting info from the official websites of the companies. Whereas this site gets info from the official port authority of Limassol as it's theirs:

https://limassolcruise.com/wp-content/uploads/limassolcruise/2022/04/Cruise-Schedule_2020_2021_2022.pdf

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It detailed

Private vehicle

lateral flow and PCR test on embarkation

Daily lateral flow for first few days starting day 2 Positive to isolate onboard or where appropriate ashore

Close contacts quarantined for 5 days

No independent exploration ashore 

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18 minutes ago, Banjo an said:

Just looked on www.cruisemapper.com.  And there is no mention of SOA visiting Limassol in June.        

Try looking on the Limassol cruise schedule. I have just checked and it clearly shows  Spirit of Adventure is now expected on 5th June.

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The situation with mines in the Black Sea and right into the northern entrance to the Bosphorus seems to be getting worse. The latest I've seen reported was defused by the Turkish Navy on Wednesday 5th April: Turkey detonates stray naval mine in Black Sea amid Ukraine war | Reuters

The latest , updated today, from UKSLD (a marine insurer) states that the NATO Shipping Centre (NSC) warns of risk of collateral damage in the north-western, western and southwest Black Sea: War in Ukraine: Latest developments - Skuld.

 

I would be interested to know how Saga could manage to be insured to sail into anywhere near to the Black Sea at the moment.

 

However, I'm far more concerned about how essential supplies into any Black Sea ports can be continued in this situation. It's appalling.

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Earlier today Reuters reported that Turkish military diving teams safely detonated yet another floating naval mine in the Black Sea. The Turkish defence ministry said this was the third such mine found in Turkish waters.

 

Fingers crossed they manage to  locate and destroy all the other mines reported adrift in the Black Sea before Saga send the Spirit of Adventure into the Black Sea next month.

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Well, cruise is still on sale. So either Saga have confidence that it is safe, or they are doing am "SoA Inaugural" again and leaving it until the last possible moment to cancel.

The last financial report from Saga was that future cruise bookings are very strong and customer confidence is very high.

Wonder how much to the future bookings are people who are worried that Saga may actually go ahead with this cruise and are moving their money further ahead.

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See warning from NATO shipping centre issued yesterday 

 

https://shipping.nato.int/

RISK OF COLLATERAL DAMAGE IN THE NORTH WESTERN, WESTERN, AND SOUTHWEST BLACK SEA

Drifting mines have been detected and deactivated in the Western Black Sea by coastal nation's authorities (ref. NAVAREA III-126/22 and NAVAREA III 017/22). The latest statement of regional authorities, confirming another sighting of a mine, shows the threat of drifting mines in the Southwest part of the Black Sea still exists. An additional stray mine was detected and deactivated on 06 of April 2022 in the Southwestern part of the Black Sea. National authorities stated that the searches for mine-like objects are ongoing. The threat of more drifting mines cannot be ruled out. Any sightings of mine-like objects should be reported to coastal authorities and shipping should remain well clear of the hazard. NSC strongly advises masters to take all precautions to mitigate the threat including avoiding floating objects, keep the forward area of the ship clear of crew, and using effective look-outs. Merchant vessels are also reminded to monitor the local authorities' broadcasts for the latest Navigational Warnings.

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2 hours ago, Windsurfboy said:

See warning from NATO shipping centre issued yesterday 

 

https://shipping.nato.int/

RISK OF COLLATERAL DAMAGE IN THE NORTH WESTERN, WESTERN, AND SOUTHWEST BLACK SEA

Drifting mines have been detected and deactivated in the Western Black Sea by coastal nation's authorities (ref. NAVAREA III-126/22 and NAVAREA III 017/22). The latest statement of regional authorities, confirming another sighting of a mine, shows the threat of drifting mines in the Southwest part of the Black Sea still exists. An additional stray mine was detected and deactivated on 06 of April 2022 in the Southwestern part of the Black Sea. National authorities stated that the searches for mine-like objects are ongoing. The threat of more drifting mines cannot be ruled out. Any sightings of mine-like objects should be reported to coastal authorities and shipping should remain well clear of the hazard. NSC strongly advises masters to take all precautions to mitigate the threat including avoiding floating objects, keep the forward area of the ship clear of crew, and using effective look-outs. Merchant vessels are also reminded to monitor the local authorities' broadcasts for the latest Navigational Warnings.

 

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According to the Media the war will be declared as a victory by Putin on 9 May, even if its not over. Saga will go ahead with the cruise but it is not likely that they will be able to get insurance for a ship in the Black Sea for a long time. Standby to visit a lot of places you've been to before.

My horse fell at the second fence in the Grand National so best if you ignore this posting. 

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We have purchased Saga Travel Insurance for our cruise Ancient Wonders of the Black Sea.

 

In the General exclusions the policy does not cover ‘ hostilities or warlike operation or operations (wether war has been declared declared or not).

 

We are obviously concerned about the reports of drifting mines and feel that the Spirit of Adventure should not enter the Black Sea.
 

Under the circumstances my wife and I are hoping that the itinerary is changed otherwise we will seriously consider cancelling as it seems many others have already done so.

 

 

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15 hours ago, Saransay said:

We have purchased Saga Travel Insurance for our cruise Ancient Wonders of the Black Sea.

 

In the General exclusions the policy does not cover ‘ hostilities or warlike operation or operations (wether war has been declared declared or not).

 

We are obviously concerned about the reports of drifting mines and feel that the Spirit of Adventure should not enter the Black Sea.
 

Under the circumstances my wife and I are hoping that the itinerary is changed otherwise we will seriously consider cancelling as it seems many others have already done so.

 

 

I think it is a game of "who blinks first".

IF Saga cancel the cruise, they have to give a full refund (this is actually one of Saga's strong points - they refund very quickly).

IF - as is more likely, the cruise does not go into the Black Sea, then they should still offer full refunds as it is no longer a Black Sea cruise, which would be a material change

IF you cancel now, you will have to pay the cancellation penalty, or roll it over to another cruise (and I understand from others it has to be a 2022 cruise, not next year).

But most importantly, if there is the slightest risk, then Saga will not go there - there is no way on earth they will risk damage or injury to the passengers, the crew, or the ship.

But the longer they delay, the better the financial position looks - either money from cancellation penalties, or more bookings for later this year (so they can tell their shareholder that bookings for 2022 are extremely strong).

If I was booked, I would not cancel.

If it is rescheduled, then you should be able to get some money back.

If it sails to the Black Sea, then Saga, the FCO, the CLIA, the port agents, the insurance companies, and the mortgagors of the ship (I think HSBC) will all be confident that it is safe to do so. We all know how risk averse insurance companies are, so if they say it is OK - it will be OK. But I can't see that happening - so, as per my first line - who blinks first.

 

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It is now just over five weeks till we are due to depart on this cruise. When I contacted our agent to ask for an update on the cruise itinerary I was told that they had been inundated with similar requests from other passengers booked on the same cruise. The agent subsequently contacted Saga and was told that there had been no changes to the current itinerary and that the cruise would enter the Black Sea as planned. Our agent was also told that the itinerary would only change if the FCO issued advice specifically advising against cruising in the Black Sea. I must admit that I was most surprised because knowing how risk adverse cruise companies can be I was expecting Saga to take a more cautious approach.

 

For what it is worth our agent’s personal opinion was that there was no way the Spirit of Adventure will enter the Black Sea. We booked this cruise specifically because it was going to the Black Sea and we would obviously be very disappointed if this did not happen. However, in view of the current situation we would fully understand if Saga deemed it unwise to send the Spirit of Adventure into the Black Sea and changed the itinerary. I am sure that an alternative itinerary would be acceptable to a lot of our fellow passengers but as we have cruised extensively in the Mediterranean we are not particularly interested in going on yet another Mediterranean cruise visiting ports we have visited many times on previous cruises.

 

I am aware that Saga are currently advertising this cruise with an unaltered itinerary but it doesn’t appear that there have been many takers. It would seem that there are still approximately 82 unsold cabins.

 

I am mindful of the fact that Saga is a commercial company primarily responsible to their share holders. I am afraid that I don’t hold with the view that might be held by others on this forum that Saga are running cruises at a loss simply in order not to disappoint their customers. When we booked this cruise we entered into a contract with Saga. If either party breeches this contract there are consequences. The consequence to ourselves if we arbitrarily decided to cancel this cruise would be a considerable financial loss. Obviously this is something we have no intention of doing. Likewise, as things stand, if  the Spirit of Adventure does not enter the Black Sea on the Ancient Wonders of Black Sea cruise this would also clearly be a breach of that contract. If Saga were to announce the fact that the itinerary has been changed prior to departure we would immediately demand a full refund because the new cruise would not be the cruise we booked. The financial  consequences then fall to Saga.  This being the case, my worry is that any changes to our itinerary might only be announced once we are on board the ship. Personally, we simply don’t want to go a cruise that does not include the Black Sea so we would feel very aggrieved if that were to happen.

 

There are a couple of valid reasons for my concern. The first is the fact that Saga are still saying that the Spirit of Adventure will be visiting Athens (Piraeus) on Tuesday 31st May. However, the port of Piraeus is no longer showing a visit on the 31st May. The schedule was altered a few weeks ago and the Spirit of Adventure, according to the port of Piraeus, is now  expected two days later on Thursday 2nd June. This does not seem to be a case of either the 31st or the 2nd as might be expected if this were simply contingency planning. I checked again this morning and the port schedule for Piraeus clearly shows that the Spirit of Adventure is expected on 2nd June and not 31st May. If the latest port schedule is correct there has obviously already been a change in the itinerary. The second indicator is the fact that the port of Limassol, which is not on the current itinerary, was showing a visit from the Spirit of Adventure on Tuesday 7th June but this was recently updated to show that the ship is now expected on Sunday 5th June. If it is the case that the information from these ports is correct then there is no way that the Spirit of Adventure will be visiting the ports in the Black Sea. One might also wonder if the visit to Istanbul would then go ahead on Saturday 11th June. The current itinerary has us visiting Athens on 31st May and Connakale the following day on 1st June before heading into the Black Sea. However, if we are going to be visiting Athens on the 2nd June we obviously won’t be entering the Black Sea as planned. The latest dates for Athens and Limassol would easily allow for an amended itinerary to take in more ports in Greece and Turkey.

 

Inspired by reports from fellow cruisers as to how they sent an email to Saga’s CEO and received a prompt reply I decided to do the same. I sent an email to the CEO last Friday detailing my concerns regarding cruising the Black Sea and possible changes to the itinerary. Rather disappointingly I had no response whatsoever. Make of that what you will.

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Thank you. I agree your sentiments. I think there are slightly more cabins available.

This ship is not entering the Black Sea. No insurer would cover it.

Saga may do one of a few options. They might try and retain passengers by enhancing the monetary side or indeed they may get us all on the ship and tell us nothing until we have been at sea more than 48 hours before they tell us we are not going to the Black Sea. That would be sneaky but would get them out of offering the Love ait First Time guarantee. 

I am emailing my TA to say we would not want to embark on this cruise if it was not going to the BS. It may help our case if we need to fight for justice when we return. If Saga intend to be shabby about this then they will lose a great deal of future custom.

If enough people complain now to our TAs then the strong message may get back to Saga HQ  

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Posted (edited)

IF (big IF) Saga do let you get on board and then tell people it is going to be a Med cruise as the Black Sea is too dangerous, then there should and must be a huge outcry of protest, including the press and lawyers, as no business should be allowed to get away with this. This would not be a change forced upon them by unexpected circumstances, it would be something they knew about and decided to keep quiet.

BUT - for all Saga's many faults, especially their poor communication, I really do not think they will do this.

They can be infuriating, confusing, annoying, sometimes misleading and frequently disorganised - but to date I have not found them underhand or dishonest.

I still believe they are hanging on til the last possible moment before announcing that the Black Sea will not actually be the Black Sea, in the hopes that enough passengers will have already either cancelled and lost their deposit, or moved their cruise to another 2022 cruise and made their future bookings look good.

Saga have traditionally had a very good reputation for prompt refunds when needed, and despite the rumblings from their shareholders about them being a bit too ready to refund, I really believe they will still do the right thing.

If not.. I forsee a class action along with the worst ever press reports coming up.

Added: The idea of making it clear now that you signed up for a cruise called "Black Sea" and do not expect (a) to be mine-spotting, or (b) to be on a Med cruise instead - good call.

Edited by nosapphire
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18 minutes ago, Toonarmy said:

Thank you. I agree your sentiments. I think there are slightly more cabins available.

This ship is not entering the Black Sea. No insurer would cover it.

Saga may do one of a few options. They might try and retain passengers by enhancing the monetary side or indeed they may get us all on the ship and tell us nothing until we have been at sea more than 48 hours before they tell us we are not going to the Black Sea. That would be sneaky but would get them out of offering the Love ait First Time guarantee. 

I am emailing my TA to say we would not want to embark on this cruise if it was not going to the BS. It may help our case if we need to fight for justice when we return. If Saga intend to be shabby about this then they will lose a great deal of future custom.

If enough people complain now to our TAs then the strong message may get back to Saga HQ  

I fear that Saga have already set a precedent with regard to not informing passengers of changes that they might not like. The Spirit of Adventure recently cut short a cruise to the Caribbean and returned to the UK three weeks earlier than planned. The Spirit of Adventure then spent 3 weeks docked in Tilbury until the next planned cruise. However, it was only after the passengers had boarded that they were told that they would not be allowed off the ship when in port unless on an organised Saga excursion. I personally feel this decision would have been made long before the passengers had boarded.

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Firstly  I  contacted the FCO about their advice for the black sea. Their response was that their advice was country based, and to look at advice for each country.  At moment FCO only advises against travel to Ukraine and Russia. If we wait for FCO advice for the black sea itself we will be waiting for ever. Hence my search that found NATO advice. 

 

I'm in the Nosapphire camp it's a who blinks first game 

 

I don't understand the insistence that it's going ahead.

 

However three scenarios.

 

They announce beforehand it's a changed intinerary offer chance to cancel full refund, plus a reduced price/compensation if you want to go ahead. We all make our own decisions. Just wonder why it's taken so long.

 

They announce changed intinerary,  but deny material change. 

 

They wait till we are at  sea before anouncement ,  

 

Can't believe it will be either of later two as that will leave them on very shaky ground, both legally and in terms of PR. 

 

I'm waiting , certainly not cancelling and paying the penalty. The longer saga wait the weaker their position. 

 

 

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We certainly won't cancel as things stand but we also won't be getting the suitcases out of the attic just yet. The frustration at the moment is that 32 days in May and June have been set aside for a cruise in the Black Sea. If the cruise is not going to the Black Sea it would be nice to know so that we could explore other options. 

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