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MSC, Silver Moon reroute, cancel cruises amid Middle East violence

By Dana Forsythe
Cruise passengers will have to figure out a new mode of transportation if they still wish to visit countries like Egypt, Jordan and Israel in the near future. File Photo by Wallace Woon/EPA-EFE
Cruise passengers will have to figure out a new mode of transportation if they still wish to visit countries like Egypt, Jordan and Israel in the near future. File Photo by Wallace Woon/EPA-EFE

Jan. 18 (UPI) -- Cruise passengers will have to figure out a new mode of transportation if they still wish to visit countries like Egypt, Jordan and Israel in the near future.

This week, several carriers including MSC Cruises and Monaco-based Silver Moon, canceled trips traveling in the affected areas, citing ongoing safety concerns due to the Israel-Hamas War.

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National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan announced Wednesday that the United States would consider the Houthis as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist organization. Sullivan said the designation will take effect on Feb. 17.

According to Silver Moon communications manager Matthew Scott, two trips, Muscat to Dubai, scheduled from January 16 to January 26 and Dubai to Mumbai and scheduled from January 26 to February 11, were canceled.

In a statement, MSC Cruises said it had canceled three Grand Voyage sailings in April from South Africa and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to Europe due to ongoing attacks on merchant vessels in the Red Sea.

"The safety of passengers and crew is MSC Cruises' number one priority. The company attempted to find suitable alternative itineraries, but ultimately found no viable options and regrettably had to cancel the voyages," the company said in a statement.

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Natallia Khoshchynka, lead travel advisor at Invisit Travel, said many cruise lines had to cancel their full winter season and up until the end of 2024 with the Red Sea included.

"Royal Caribbean has about 14 cruises with an Israel port of call in them and Carnival has about six itineraries with Israel on them," she said.

Several companies, like Windstar, have added other destinations including nearby Santorini and day at sea for their itineraries instead of docking at Haifa and Ashdod in Israel. Others, Khoshchynka said, have rerouted cruises to the Greek Isles or fully canceled.

"Mostly cruise lines have repositioned their ships to the Mediterranean as Greece is over-the-top popular," she told UPI. "It is convenient as there are many islands accessible for cruise ships to dock in like Mykonos, Santorini, Corfu, Piraeus, Crete, Rhodes and some others. Also, Turkey is part of new sailings as well, as it can be easily combined with Greece and quite a new destination for travelers to visit this year."

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