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The future of cruising in the Middle East


kjbacon
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No one knows what is next but it seems like a discussion worth starting, both in general and also for those of us booked on Middle Eastern itineraries over the next year. Will the cruise lines amend next years itineraries soon or will they take a wait and see approach? Dare I suggest that the conversation is more helpful and more enjoyable if everyone is respectful.

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The "Middle East" is a big place. Some parts of it are involved in long standing conflict, as the current violence continues to evidence. Other parts are not directly involved but are near neighbours, whilst further parts are well away from the conflict area.

 

That may give cruise lines some flexibility. But I think it reasonable to assume that tourism to Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan and, possibly, parts of Egypt is unlikely to be happening any time soon. It is too soon to know how the situation might impact on other countries in the region, such as Cyprus and Turkey. I think cruise lines will naturally fall on the side of caution, as they have with Russia and its near neighbours in the Baltic. 

 

I think one of the big questions for tourists will be their own safety. Like it or not, there is a widely held view amongst much of the population of the Middle East that "the West" is not unbiased or even handed in its response to the decades of conflict in the Palestine/Israel conflict. That means there's a lot of people there who don't like people like me (who might arrive on cruise ships). And it only takes one person with a gun, or a suicide bomber, to cause a disaster - such as the murder of 38 tourists (30 of them Britons) in Tunisia  in 2015. It's not a part of the world that I have any intention of visiting in the foreseeable future. 

 

 

 

 

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Last decade, when Turkey started acting badly, it took 3 or 4 years before cruise ships started going back into Istanbul again. I’m guessing it will be at least that long, or longer, before cruising to Israel resumes even if the violence there ends fairly soon. Friends, booked with a church group going there next summer, have already found their tour cancelled. Liability is too great, especially in sue happy America.

 

We may not see a cruise line returning to Russia for a decade. The mutual animosity there will take a long time to heal. Even if needing the tourism, I don’t believe travelers will find the welcome mats out for them. I’m 

 

On a personal note, we were fortunate enough to do a wonderful 14 day cruise/tour of China in 2016 with Uniworld, then another visit to Hong Kong to embark the Nautica in 2018. A different era indeed. Even the changes in HK, between 16 and 18, were highly noticeable. With current affairs, I have zero intention of ever returning to any part of China again. I even refrain, as much as possible, from buying anything “ Made in China “. I’d hate to be in one of those ports, or even their waters, when that powder keg goes off.

Edited by pinotlover
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16 minutes ago, pinotlover said:

Last decade, when Turkey started acting badly, it took 3 or 4 years before cruise ships started going back into Istanbul again. I’m guessing it will be at least that long, or longer, before cruising to Israel resumes even if the violence there ends fairly soon. Friends, booked with a church group going there next summer, have already found their tour cancelled. Liability is too great, especially in sue happy America.

 

We may not see a cruise line returning to Russia for a decade. The mutual animosity there will take a long time to heal. Even if needing the tourism, I don’t believe travelers will find the welcome mats out for them. I’m 

 

On a personal note, we were fortunate enough to do a wonderful 14 day cruise/tour of China in 2016 with Uniworld, then another visit to Hong Kong to embark the Nautica in 2018. A different era indeed. Even the changes in HK, between 16 and 18, were highly noticeable. With current affairs, I have zero intention of ever returning to any part of China again. I even refrain, as much as possible, from buying anything “ Made in China “. I’d hate to be in one of those ports, or even their waters, when that powder keg goes off.

 

I wouldn't really compare Israel to Russia. My estimate is that next summer cruises will return to Israel. 

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After reading updated news reports, I would venture to say that Turkey may become be a troublesome area again for those from the West for a while. We have a port in Turkey next Spring that I would anticipate a change…..the current situation is extremely volatile and worrisome. 

 

We visited Egypt, directly after the conflict in 2014. We were the second ship to visit Cairo. It was a big lesson to us after being surrounded by guns, even with an armed guard. We very much enjoyed all the ports we spent time in on that trip in Turkey.  Our guides were highly educated and gracious. I a, grateful we had that opportunity. In the current environment, visiting Turkey would not be one I would be comfortable with. 

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24 minutes ago, ak1004 said:

 

I wouldn't really compare Israel to Russia. My estimate is that next summer cruises will return to Israel. 

I put the two areas in different paragraphs. No comparison intended. I will only reply to my friend’s current ( in the past week) experience: their tour operator cancelled all tours to Israel scheduled for next year (2024) and is returning deposits for such.

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34 minutes ago, cruisemom42 said:

Coming from the US, my viewpoint may be a little different,

Fully understood. And, ss the overwhelming majority of O's cruisers are American, then perhaps the company will have a similar view and not change their itineraries. 

Edited by Harters
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13 minutes ago, Harters said:

Fully understood. And, ss the overwhelming majority of O's cruisers are American, then perhaps the company will have a similar view and not change their itineraries. 

As susiean replied above, the cruise lines will only go as far as the insurance companies leash allows.

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17 hours ago, susiesan said:

If travel insurance companies start excluding countries in the Middle East then cruise ships and travelers will stop going there.

Your point is a good one. Do you think the insurance companies will make changes to the coverages that they’ve already sold? Most cruises are setup and sold years in advance. 

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3 hours ago, kjbacon said:

Your point is a good one. Do you think the insurance companies will make changes to the coverages that they’ve already sold? Most cruises are setup and sold years in advance. 

Two different insurance policies. One individual, another for the cruise line. Corporate policies are typically year to year, and no longer. That new corporate policy may well persuade the cruise line to cancel ports/countries. 

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I'm going to go out on a limb here and predict the will be no cruises to Iran in 2024.😁

 

In all seriousness, I don't quite understand why travel to Qatar is normal when they host the leadership of organizations that the State Department lists as terrorists. 

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The OP was looking for a discussion on what will happen in the cruise industry world.  We all know time will tell however most everyone going even close to the conflict knows the risks are increased.  My educated guess is:

 

  • Cruise booking for the future will go down, anywhere near the conflict. Not for ever just for the immediate future.
  • Those booked for Mediterranean Itineraries for the next few months, I am one of them with my cruise in 20 days, will be somewhat nervous. Not so much for Greece, Italy or France.  More for Turkey.  
  • Decisions to cancel ports will be on going.  Many on this board talk about how Oceania tends to cancel port more frequently than other brands.  The odds of this happening in the near future percentage has gone up.  I only share this from an "Realistic Expectations" standpoint. 
  • In the past, the debate to cruise or not to cruise was a hot topic.  Debate to me means two or more views.  It is a personal decision with consequences both good and bad.  Since we don't know the future, the debate will continue. 

 

I have noticed on the cruises going to the Mediterranean in the next month or so few if any guest cancellations has started to happen.  This might change in the future.  It does show in some unofficial way, most cruisers, if not going to the conflict area directly are still ok with cruising. 

 

Cruise well and enjoy every moment. 

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6 minutes ago, Guest said:

We have friends who should be sailing from Rome today or tomorrow on Oceania with the last two stops in Turkey. I was wondering to myself whether that schedule might change.   We will see.

@Guest I hope you will share what happens.  We have 1 1/2 days in Turkey in early November 2023.  My gut tells me, Turkey will be cancelled.  If we go, my wife and guest have all indicated we all have to be much more caution.  I have no inside information, time will tell.  Lowering expectations today is better then being surprised tomorrow. 

 

Cruise well and enjoy every moment. 

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1 hour ago, Guest said:

We have friends who should be sailing from Rome today or tomorrow on Oceania with the last two stops in Turkey. I was wondering to myself whether that schedule might change.   We will see.


I am currently on an Azamara cruise with a port stop tomorrow in Turkey and ending in Istanbul the following day. Zero discussion of making any changes.

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I was in Israel exactly a year ago; jets flew overhead to Gaza making quite a loud sound.  Yes, this is an everyday occurrence that makes many complacent.  I never felt complacent at all on my trip, understanding that I was very lucky to get in and visit so many places; those memories are etched in my brain forever and I constantly remember our wonderful tour guides who support their families by tourism.  

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On 10/20/2023 at 4:05 PM, jonthomas said:

Any thoughts of changes for stopping in Morocco?

 

Morocco to Israel is almost exactly the same distance as New York to Los Angeles, or New York to Bogota (Colombia), or Los Angeles to Honolulu. They're worlds apart. Have there been some public demonstrations? Yes. But they're not really dangerous, and would be incredibly unlikely to impact you in any way. My wife, a Moroccan, just came back from Morocco and said things are perfectly normal. 

Edited by Zach1213
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It's not the distance from  Morocco to Israel that's important , but Morocco to the nearest possible supporter, turkey?  North Africa? But then there is  unrest in much of Europe as well.

O in their wisdom I'm sure will do what is necessary to keep passengers safe.

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23 hours ago, jonthomas said:

It's not the distance from  Morocco to Israel that's important , but Morocco to the nearest possible supporter, turkey?  North Africa?

 

The distance between Morocco and North Africa is, indeed, quite short 😉

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