Egypt Unrest Shakes up Tourism: Cruises Modify Itineraries

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Cruise Critic reports that cruise lines and tour operators continued to tweak itineraries this week as the unrest in Egypt escalated, leaving travelers on edge during what is the peak season for Nile River cruises.

The protests are occurring just weeks after similar outbreaks took place in Tunisia, causing cruise lines to cancel calls there.

In response to the protests aimed at the Egyptian government, the U.S. State Department posted a travel warning, advising that "U.S. citizens avoid travel to Egypt due to ongoing political and social unrest." Meanwhile, the U.K. Foreign Office has a notice on its site, advising against "all but essential travel" to the area.

Here's what the lines have announced thus far.

MSC: Two MSC ships, MSC Splendida and MSC Magnifica, were expected to call at Alexandria over the next few days, but they're being diverted. Magnifica will now call at Limassol, Cyprus, and Haifa, Israel, on Sunday and Monday, respectively. Splendida will call at Izmir, Turkey, on Monday.

NCL: Likewise, Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Jade will now call at Istanbul on Sunday in lieu of a stop in Alexandria.

Cosmos Tourama: Cosmos Tourama says on its Web site that those booked on its Jan. 31, 2011, departure should contact the line's call center to discuss options, but it has not yet canceled any sailings outright. The line also is not offering its usual excursions to Cairo from Luxor and Aswan, instead keeping passengers in Upper Egypt, where there's less trouble.

Grand Circle Cruises: The latest cancellations come from Grand Circle Cruises, which has scrapped all sailings bound for Egypt through February 5, 2011. The announcement was seen on the line's Facebook page. We're currently awaiting word on what will be offered to passengers booked on those sailings.

Avalon Waterways: Line spokesperson Melanie Gravdal tells us that Avalon Waterways has announced the cancellation of its Jan. 29 and Feb. 1 sailings that include Egypt. Passengers booked on those sailings have the option of rebooking on an alternative sailing or receiving a full refund.

Uniworld: On the Cruise Critic message boards, Uniworld has announced that it is canceling Egypt cruises through February 12, 2011, and passengers may choose to rebook or opt for a full refund. Those booked on sailings between Feb. 15 and 28, 2011, may choose to rebook on alternative sailings later in the year. But, because those sailings have not yet been canceled, refunds are not being offered at this time.

Thomson Cruises: Thomson Holidays has already canceled excursions to Cairo for its land-based holidaymakers. Thomson Cruises' Thomson Celebration is currently refueling in Port Sokhna and will be heading to the resort of Sharm el Sheikh later. According to spokesperson Kate Lomax, "some changes to the itinerary have unfortunately had to be made, including the cancellation of the excursions to Cairo and the pyramids tomorrow (Monday 31 January) and Hurghada and Luxor on Tuesday (1 February) and Wednesday (2 February)."

Discover Egypt: Discover Egypt's January 31 departure has been canceled, and the line is taking care of those currently on sailings and in line-sponsored hotels. There's been no word yet on what is being offered to those booked on the canceled sailing.

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