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Cruise Ship Silver Moon Reverses Course to Avoid Southern Red Sea

Silver Moon cruise ship
Silver Moon turned north from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia to avoid the area near Yemen with passengers aboard (Mawani)

Published Jan 10, 2024 3:38 PM by The Maritime Executive

 

The luxury cruise ship Silver Moon (40,700 gross tons) has become the latest ship to divert away from the southern Red Sea, altering the itinerary for its current cruise and canceling at least one upcoming cruise. The cruise ship operated by Silversea Cruises, part of the Royal Caribbean Group, was scheduled to begin her transit of the region around the Bab el-Mandeb strait tomorrow, January 11, on a cruise originating in Jordan and proceeding to Oman.

“Our Global Security team is continuously monitoring the situation and recommended amending the itinerary of this cruise to remain on the northern side of the Red Sea,” writes Captain Luigi Rutigliano, master of the Silver Moon in a letter distributed to the passengers onboard. “The situation, as you may have read from news reports, is changing daily, and today, we are confirming the itinerary change based on intelligence gathered in the last 24 hours.”

The cruise ship which has a capacity for 596 passengers had transited the Suez Canal on December 31 starting a long program that was to take the ship to the Red Sea, on to Dubai, and then India, and Southeast Asia as well as Japan. In the spring it is due to reverse the course and in May again transit the Red Sea as it travels to the Mediterranean.

The ship arrived in Aqaba, Jordan on January 6 with a reported 278 passengers along with 408 crewmembers in what was being hailed as the start of the 2024 winter tourism season. The next cruise was due to begin that same day and after stops in Saudi Arabia proceed over three days between January 10 and 12 through the southern Red Sea to Salalah and Muscat in Oman, where the segment was due to end on January 16. 

Yesterday, however, the cruise ship turned north from Saudi Arabia and is now proceeding to Sharm El Shelk at the southern end of the Sinai Peninsula and then to Ain Sukhna and Safaga in Egypt before disembarking all passengers on January 16 in Aqaba. 

While it is common for passengers to remain aboard for multiple segments, everyone has been told they must disembark in Jordan and onward flights will be arranged. The cruise due to start in Oman is canceled with a spokesperson for Silversea Cruises only commenting that the company is “currently meeting about the situation in the Red Sea. We hope to have an official statement soon.”

In jeopardy is nearly five months of scheduled cruises if the ship can not proceed. Speculation aboard the ship is that after disembarking all passengers, the Silver Moon will proceed through the Red Sea only with crew aboard and go directly to Dubai where she would resume her published itineraries.

The Silver Moon has become the second cruise ship in recent days to divert away from the Bab el-Mandeb and the region around Yemen. MSC Cruises announced a last-minute change of itinerary for its world cruise as it was departing Italy instead scheduling the MSC Poesia to make a loop around South Africa to reach Kenya before resuming its itinerary which will take it west to South America. 

Multiple cruise ships, including the Silver Moon, are scheduled in the spring to make the transit of the Red Sea as they reposition from Asia or the Persian Gulf region to the Mediterranean for the summer of 2024. Several world cruises also are scheduled to transit the Red Sea on their final leg as they return to Europe.