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On November 14, 2023, Celestyal Cruises took the unprecedented step of canceling five upcoming voyages scheduled for December, impacting the travel plans of numerous passengers. The decision to cancel these voyages, operated by Celestyal Journey, was prompted by various factors, including the Israel-Palestine war’s influence on guest responses, feedback from travel agents, and a surge in cancellations. These circumstances led to modifications in the cruise itineraries, as the Israeli port of Ashdod was replaced with Heraklion on Crete Island, Greece. While the cancellations undoubtedly posed challenges for travelers, Celestyal Cruises made concerted efforts to accommodate affected passengers with refunds and future cruise credits.
Details of the Incident
The cancellations affected five Celestyal Journey voyages scheduled for December 2023:
- A 7-day “Three Continents” roundtrip from Piraeus-Athens, originally slated for December 2, which included ports of call in Heraklion Crete, Alexandria-Cairo Egypt, Limassol Cyprus, Rhodes Island Greece, and Kusadasi-Ephesus Turkey.
- A 7-day “Three Continents” roundtrip from Limassol, initially departing on December 6, with stops in Rhodes Island, Kusadasi-Ephesus, Piraeus-Athens, Port Said-Cairo Egypt, and Heraklion.
- A 7-day “Three Continents” roundtrip from Piraeus-Athens, originally planned for December 9, featuring visits to Heraklion, Alexandria-Cairo, Limassol, Rhodes Island, and Kusadasi-Ephesus.
- An 11-day “Christmas 2023 Cruise” roundtrip from Piraeus-Athens, initially scheduled for December 16, which encompassed Thessaloniki Greece, Izmir Turkey, Agios Nikolaos Crete, Antalya Turkey, Limassol, Alexandria-Cairo, and Haifa-Nazareth Israel.
- A 19-day “Christmas and New Year 2023 Cruise” roundtrip from Piraeus-Athens, departing on December 16, with ports of call including Thessaloniki, Izmir, Agios Nikolaos, Antalya, Limassol, Alexandria-Cairo, Haifa-Nazareth, Piraeus-Athens, Heraklion, Rhodes Island, Kusadasi-Ephesus, Istanbul Turkey, and Volos-Meteora Greece.
In response to the cancellations, Celestyal Cruises implemented a comprehensive compensation plan for affected passengers. All bookings associated with the canceled itineraries were fully refunded, with passengers additionally receiving 25% in future cruise credit (FCC) based on the total amount paid. This FCC can be utilized for any voyage departing before December 31, 2024.
The cancellations occurred amid the ongoing Israel-Palestine war, which had a significant impact on passenger sentiment and travel decisions. To adapt to the evolving situation and ensure passenger safety and satisfaction, Celestyal Cruises chose to modify the itineraries.