We’ve been getting a lot of questions here at River Cruise Advisor as of late that revolve around a single subject: the Ukraine. More specifically, is the Ukraine river cruise season still a go?
As of right now: sort of.
The situation in Russia and the Ukraine is on a slow burn. Cruise lines are all are aware of the escalating tensions between the two regions and are monitoring the situation closely. Viking River Cruises took the pro-active step to scrub most of its early-2014 departures and keep just a handful of fall sailings scheduled. The line’s first Footsteps of the Cossacks sailing aboard Viking Sineus is now scheduled for August 25, 2014.
However, that hasn’t stopped would-be travelers from already bailing out.
The Wall Street Journal reports that despite modest growth in the tourism sector last year, roughly 25 percent of would-be visitors have cancelled trips to the region. The cancellations come not just from the United States, as one might expect, but also from travelers in Europe and Asia who have been spooked by the political and physical maneuvering between the two countries.
So what should you do if you’re booked on a river cruise through Russia or the Ukraine? At this point, your best option may be to wait and see. Cruises cancelled after final payment may be subject to hefty cancellation fees, and airfares are likely to be non-refundable unless trip cancellation insurance was purchased in advance.
If the situation deteriorates, cruise lines will make the appropriate call to scrub the sailings. As we’ve seen in the past when the Egyptian river cruise market became untenable after the Arab Spring in late 2010, refunds and offers to rebook on different sailings are typically offered to guests when cruise lines have to pull the plug.
We’ll continue to monitor the situation in the Ukraine and provide updates here as needed.