Norwegian Cruise Line, Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Oceania Cruises ships will not be cruising to Turkey in 2016. Parent company Norwegian Cruise Lines Holdings has canceled all 61 calls the company had scheduled for Istanbul and other Turkish ports this year.
Frank Del Rio, president and CEO of NCLH, said in Miami the decision to remove Turkey from itineraries was “painful,” but was due to security concerns.
“It’s the right thing to do but I feel terrible about it,” he said, singing the praises of the country as a cruise destination. “We’re hopeful by 2017 we will once again have the confidence to return to Turkey.”
Several of the cruises were to embark or disembark from Istanbul. The other Turkish ports the ships were to visit were Kusadasi, Antalya, Alanya and Izmir. Instead the lines will substitute ports including Athens, Greece.
Norwegian Cruise Line alone was to visit Turkey 32 times this spring, summer and fall, bringing nearly 100,000 passengers and crew. Seventeen Oceania cruises and 12 Regent cruises are also impacted.
The company issued this statement:
“At Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises, our primary concern is to ensure the safety and security of our guests and crew. Due to recent events in Turkey, we are suspending all calls to the country through 2016 across all NCLH brands. We will continue to closely monitor the situation and make future itinerary adjustments as appropriate. We have begun the process of informing guests booked on the affected cruises of the itinerary changes and will update the respective brand websites with revised voyage information.”
Del Rio said the decision to pull out of Turkey followed the deadly suicide bombing last week in a popular tourist area in the heart of Istanbul. Turkish authorizes linked the blast to the Islamic State (IS).
Norwegian is the first major line to drop Turkey this year. Luxury line Crystal Cruises said earlier this week it is dropping four itineraries that were to visit Istanbul and Kusdasi due to “ongoing security concerns.”
Costa Cruises and Celebrity Cruises both cancelled some itineraries last fall.
Pulling out of Turkey and in such a sweeping manner is not without risk, Del Rio said.
“In a month if everything is calm and collected and the world comes to peace then I made the wrong decision. You make the best decision you can when you have to make it,” he said.
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