A rising threat of terrorism in Istanbul has prompted Celebrity to modify port calls to the city. This follows Costa Cruises canceling their remaining 2015 port calls to Istanbul last month. The actions of Celebrity vary based on the itinerary. The Celebrity Equinox, which sailed on September 7 from Barcelona for 13 days was the first ship to be affected. The original itinerary had the cruise ending in Istanbul on the 19th having arrived the previous day and providing an overnight stay. The new plan is for the ship to spend an extra day at sea and disembarking on the day of arrival. The next cruise for the Celebrity Equinox was scheduled to embark on the 19th, stay overnight in Istanbul and sail on the 20th. Now, that cruise will depart on the same day as embarking, also adding a day at sea. The Celebrity Constellation has four sailing ships affected. Similar to the change of the Equinox, the Constellation will swap an overnight stay with an extra day at sea. The ship will depart at 11 p.m. on the first day. Celebrity Reflections, which departs from Rome, will no longer call on Istanbul and has modified their itinerary to include Athens instead.
There has been an increase in activity in terrorist activity including an attack on the U.S. Consulate in the city of Istanbul. The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) is seen as being responsible for the attacks. After the attack on the U.S. Consulate, the State Department reissued its travel advisory for Turkey. They also announced that they have permitted the departure of U.S. government family members from the U.S. Consulate in Adana, Turkey. It is a voluntary move. The UK also has travel warning for Turkey.
As you can imagine the reactions to the changes have been vocal and varied. Unlike the cancellation of the port calls of Costa Cruise and Celebrity Reflections, the remaining sailing has Istanbul as an embarkation port. Changing the embarkation for so many people at the last minute would be chaos. Some are saying that if it’s safe enough to fly into the airport to meet the ship, it should be safe enough for an overnight stay. Others are saying that if it is so dangerous that the port calls were canceled for the Reflections and the Costa Ships, then it should be too dangerous to fly into Istanbul to meet the ships.
Regardless of varying viewpoints, most people agree that the proactive actions by these two cruise lines show they are learning from past mistakes concerning passenger safety in ports of calls.