AIDA Cancels Repositioning Cruises to Avoid Red Sea Security Concerns
AIDA Cruises canceled repositioning voyages for three of its cruise ships scheduled to transit the Red Sea in the coming weeks. Carnival Corporation’s German brand is the first of the major cruise lines to address the issues of moving cruise ships currently operating from the Middle East, South Africa, the Indian Ocean, or Asia back to Europe for their planned summer season cruises.
“Given the latest developments in the Red Sea, we are unfortunately forced to cancel the trips of AIDAbella, AIDAblu, and AIDAprima in spring 2024,” the cruise line writes in an alert sent to travel advisers and passengers. “In the interest of safety for our guests and crew, this is the only responsible option.”
The cruise line anticipates three months of disruptions for its schedules starting late February with the AIDABlu (71,300 gross tons) which is currently sailing in the Vanilla Island region including the Seychelles, Madagascar, Réunion, and Mauritius. The ship cancels the repositioning that would have taken passengers as she moved along the East Coast of Africa and to the Greek Islands. She is not scheduled to return to commercial service until the end of March in the Mediterranean.
The AIDAprima (125,572 gross tons), currently operating from Dubai, also canceled about six weeks of operations. She was due to start her repositioning from Dubai at the end of March through the Mediterranean to Germany. She will now be out of service till May when she resumes service from Hamburg. Additionally, the AIDABella (69,200 gross tons) currently in Southeast Asia canceled a repositioning due to start from Dubai in April and does not resume service until the end of May.
AIDA did not respond to a question about the routing the ships would be taking, but based on the range of canceled trips it appears the cruise ships will deadhead only with crew to the west of Africa to reach Europe. Royal Caribbean Group recently made a similar decision diverting the Silver Moon from its Silversea Cruises around Africa canceling cruises in the Middle East but resuming service in February from India.
While much of the attention has been on commercial shipping with containerships now followed by tankers and gas carriers diverting, it will be an increasing issue for the cruise lines in the coming weeks. Cruises from Dubai, the Middle East, and Southern Africa, are seasonal with ships scheduled to transit the Suez Canal to return to Europe. In addition, the world and long cruises include scheduled transits of the Suez Canal in the spring as the trips conclude in Europe.
Cruise lines like commercial ships now face the prospects of long diversions rerouting but unlike commercial ships lack the port and tourism infrastructure to reschedule cruises on short notice.