Guests booked aboard Norwegian Dawn for a Middle Eastern cruise will not be visiting all the ports of call on the original itinerary, as Norwegian Cruise Line is removing the visit to Saudi Arabia less than a month before the ship’s December 13 departure.

The decision is being made in the interest of safety and ensuring guests have an enjoyable experience on their 7-night cruise, and the change may also be made to additional itineraries.

The December 13, 2023 departure of Norwegian Dawn will not be following the originally planned itinerary. Norwegian Cruise Line has reached out to booked guests to notify them that the visit to Dammam, Saudi Arabia has been removed from the schedule.

“As a proactive measure in response to recent developments in the region, we have cancelled our call to Dammam, Saudi Arabia,” the notification read. “We understand that itinerary changes can be frustrating, so we offer our genuine apologies for any disappointment this may cause.”

While the exact considerations of “recent developments” leading to this itinerary change have not been disclosed, this is likely an allusion to the continued conflict in Israel and the possibility that tensions may spread to a wider region.

The call to Dammam was to have been the last port visit of the ship’s 7-night “Middle East: Saudi Arabia & UAE” sailing, departing Dubai on Wednesday, December 13.

Norwegian Dawn Cruise Ship in Portland (Photo Courtesy: Portland Port)

No earlier ports of call are impacted, and Norwegian Dawn will still visit Abu Dhabi and Sir Bani Yas in the United Arab Emirates, as well as Manama in Bahrain. The visit to Dammam was to have been on Tuesday, December 19.

Instead, the ship will arrive in Doha, Qatar at 5 p.m. on December 19 rather than 6 a.m. the next morning. While this is the debarkation port for the sailing, the early arrival and overnight stay will give passengers a chance to explore the port more closely if they wish.

“While we share your disappointment, this modification was made with great consideration to preserve the guest experience while prioritizing your safety, and that of our crew,” the notification said.

The 92,250-gross-ton Norwegian Dawn is one of the line’s oldest ships, but is much beloved by travelers for her exotic itineraries and intimate size. The ship can welcome 2,340 guests at double occupancy, and is also home to approximately 1,000 international crew members.

As is standard, when a port of call is cancelled, any shore tours for Dammam booked through Norwegian Cruise Line will be automatically cancelled and refunded. The refunds will be processed back to the original form of payment.

New evening excursions for Doha will also be arranged and made available for purchase before the cruise begins, giving travelers the opportunity to plan for their extra time in the capital and largest city in Qatar.

No other compensation is being offered, as port of call changes are common on many cruises for many reasons – poor weather, a change in docking schedules, security or safety concerns, and more. For example, Carnival Cruise Line has recently cancelled visits to Colón, Panama, due to ongoing protests.

While this notification is only for Norwegian Dawn‘s December 13 departure, it is possible that other cruises will also be similarly changed. The ship is sailing several Middle Eastern itineraries that include Dammam as a port of call through the end of December, before moving to itineraries focused on South Africa.

Likewise, other cruise lines may make similar decisions for their own vessels and itineraries as they find necessary.

Any travelers with cruises booked for Middle Eastern destinations in the next few weeks will want to stay in close contact with their cruise line for updates and possible changes.

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