Although most cruise lines have finally canceled port calls in Russia following the unprovoked and deadly invasion of Ukraine, there are two companies which have steadfastly refused to alter their cruise schedules to that region – Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises.
Last week, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, which operates Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL), Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Oceania Cruises, canceled all of its several dozens of calls in Russia through the end of the year.
Cruise fan blogger Gene Sloan, who did not criticize Royal Caribbean or Celebrity, pointed out in an article today titled Royal Caribbean Among Holdouts As Most Major Lines Cancel Russia Calls that these companies refuse to join other cruise companies in canceling upcoming cruises to Russia: “Most major cruise lines have now canceled calls in Russia in the wake of the country’s invasion of Ukraine, with just a handful of holdouts including Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises sticking to plans to have ships visit Russian ports in the coming months.”
Three days after NCLH’s announcement, Carnival Corporation finally issued a similar announcement after it initially announced that it was cluelessly “monitoring” developments in the area.
In light of the recent attacks by Russia in Ukraine, Carnival Corporation brands will be modifying our itineraries in the coming week once alternative ports can be confirmed. We stand for peace.
— Carnival Corporation (@CarnivalPLC) February 26, 2022
Yesterday, MSC Cruises also announced that it suspended all calls to St. Petersburg, Russia for this year due to “recent developments in the region and related security concerns.”
But Royal Caribbean recently stated in a letter to its guests that at this time “our intention is to sail to St. Petersburg.” The Cruise Hive blog reported that “despite the political ramifications and widespread sanctions that the EU, US, and the UK have implemented against Russia, Royal Caribbean says it still intends to include port calls to St. Petersburg at this time.” Cruise Hive points out that Celebrity is still shamelessly offering #cruise vacations to St. Petersburg, Russia on the Celebrity Apex & Celebrity Silhouette.
— James (Jim) Walker (@CruiseLaw) March 1, 2022
The popular Royal Caribbean Blog states that the cruise line has “back up ports” which include alternate destinations if guests are “hesitant to sail to Russia.” However, Royal Caribbean did not specify any of the alleged back up ports to potentially replace the Russian port of St. Petersburg.
particularly disappointing and disturbing is the fact that Royal Caribbean/Celebrity have not made any statements supporting the democratic government of Ukraine or criticizing Rusian Leader Putin’s appalling aggression. Doing business with a pariah country like Russia does not appear to be a particularly wise choice by this Liberian incorporated cruise line. Its cruise ships are staffed by several hundred Ukrainian crew members and officers. Many dozens of Ukrainian crew members have contacted this blog and openly expressed their solidarity with ship employees from countless other countries, including Russia, in opposing Russian leader Putin’s greed and zest for power and control.
A review of the Royal Caribbean web site shows that it is selling many dozens of cruises and excursions to Russia, including calls to St. Petersburg where it tells prospective guests that they can visit sights of the city including imperial palaces owned by the czars.
Scumbags at Royal Caribbean are still selling cruises to St. Petersburg, Russia. Per letters to guests posted on line it's only a question of whether or not they "can". But $RCL is gaslighting it's "support for Ukraine" by giving free WiFi to its Ukrainian crewmembers. GFY 🇺🇦 pic.twitter.com/DtlEv6yydv
— Keubiko🇺🇦 (@Keubiko) February 28, 2022
Royal Caribbean will eventually not sail into a Russian port as long as that country is engaged in armed hostilities with Ukraine, if for no reason other than the fact that an injury to or death involving a cruise guest on a ship in a war zone would not be covered by its insurance underwriters. But its silence and refusal to join the international community in expressing support of Ukraine and condeming Putin is nothing short of shameful.
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Image credit: Royal Caribbean
March 2, 2022 Update:
Royal Cribbean has quickly caved to social media and public pressure by finally cancelling future cruises to St. Petersburg, Russia.
"Safety of guests & crew" must always be #cruise line's highest priority. But where are @RoyalCaribbean & @CelebrityCruise words of support for brave people of @Ukraine & condemnation of Putin's aggression, as voiced by most reputable companies in the international community? https://t.co/yFEFGaLoSh
— James (Jim) Walker (@CruiseLaw) March 2, 2022
March 3, 2022 Update:
We received the following message from Royal Caribbean’s global communications agency BCW:
“Royal Caribbean International has made the decision to cancel our visits to St. Petersburg, Russia on all Summer 2022 itineraries.
The safety of our guests and crew is always our top priority. We are continuously monitoring events taking place around the world, including the situation in Ukraine. With the recent events, we have made the decision to cancel our visits to St. Petersburg, Russia on all Summer 2022 itineraries. We have planned alternative ports and will communicate itinerary changes in the next few days to our guests and travel partners. Guests can feel comfortable knowing they are able to reschedule their cruise with our Cruise with Confidence program.”