Guests booked on the November 1, 2023 departure of Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Gem have finally been updated about their changed itinerary.

This comes after later departures were already confirmed as adjusted, and dramatically changes the ship’s planned voyage as necessary due to escalating tensions in and around Israel.

The November 1 sailing of Norwegian Gem was to have been an 11-night Mediterranean sailing with highlights in Greece, Turkey, and Egypt as well as calls in both Haifa and Ashdod, Israel.

Due to the regional violence and the possibility of the escalating conflict spilling over neighboring borders, as well as stronger travel restrictions throughout the region, it is no longer possible for Norwegian Gem to sail the original itinerary.

Three of the original ports of call have now been cancelled and the ship will no longer be visiting Port Said, Egypt or either Haifa or Ashdod. The stay in Alexandria has been extended to a much longer overnight visit, and two additional ports of call in Greece – Heraklion and Mykonos – have been added.

Photo Credit: Darryl Brooks / Shutterstock

Furthermore, other originally scheduled ports have been shifted in the itinerary to accommodate the new destinations and travel route.

“We understand that itinerary changes can be frustrating. We share your disappointment and regret that this situation has prevented us from delivering the vacation that both we and our guests imagined,” the notification to booked guests read.

Norwegian Gem will depart Istanbul, Turkey on Wednesday, November 1, as originally scheduled, and the first two days – Kusadasi, Turkey from 1:30-7:30 p.m. on Thursday and a day at sea on Friday – remain unchanged.

The ship will reach Alexandria as planned at 6 a.m. on Saturday, but will now remain in that vibrant and colorful port overnight until 6 p.m. on Sunday evening. The call to Limassol, Cyprus will be next on Monday, followed by Alanya, Turkey on Tuesday. The ship will then move on to Heraklion, Rhodes, and Mykonos on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday respectively.

The arrival in Piraeus (Athens) on Saturday, November 11, 2023 is still planned for 6 a.m. as originally scheduled for an on-time debarkation.

Guests booked aboard this sailing are being offered a $200 onboard credit per stateroom, distributed as $100 for both the first and second guests in the cabin. This credit is non-refundable, however, and any unused monies will not be refunded at the end of the cruise.

All shore tours booked through Norwegian Cruise Line for the now-cancelled visits to Port Said, Ashdod (Jerusalem), and Haifa (Tel-Aviv) are being automatically cancelled and fully refunded back to guests’ onboard accounts. Similarly, tours booked for Limassol, Alanya, and Rhodes are being rescheduled as necessary for the changes in visits to those ports.

Guests will be able to book tours for Alexandria, Heraklion, and Mykonos soon, as arrangements are still being confirmed with tour operators.

Norwegian Gem Cruise Ship (Photo Credit: Paul Wishart)

Any travelers who have made independent tour arrangements will need to reach out to their tour operators as soon as possible for refunds, rescheduling, or other arrangements as available.

While many guests are understandably upset at the dramatic itinerary change, is must be noted that Norwegian Cruise Line’s Guest Ticket Contract does discuss itinerary changes.

Specifically, section 7(a) states that the cruise line “has the sole discretion and liberty to direct the movements of the vessel, including the rights to … deviate from the purchased voyage or the normal course for any purpose, including, without limitation, the health and safety in the interest of Guests or of the vessel.”

This includes the ability to “cancel any scheduled call at any port for any reason and at any time before, during or after sailing of thevessel.”

Read Also: Which Cruise Lines Have Suspended Operations in Israel?

It is not unusual for cruise lines to adjust itineraries based on political or social upheavals such as protests, acts of terrorism, surges in violence, or other activities that could compromise travelers’ safety. These disruptions might be for just a sailing or two, or could be much longer term adjustments depending on the scope of the individual situation.

Guests booked on any sailing in or near Israel in the coming months will want to stay in close contact with their cruise line or travel agent for updates and potential changes.

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