MSC Cruises has become the latest major cruise line to drop port calls in Russia over the country’s invasion of Ukraine six days ago.
MSC Cruises will be suspending all port calls in Saint Petersburg due to security concerns emanating from Russia’s war with Ukraine.
The move makes MSC Cruises the latest cruise line to drop Russian calls after Royal Caribbean, Carnival Cruise Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, Holland America Line, Princess, Regent Seven Seas, Oceania, Virgin Voyages and more all amended Russian itineraries.
In a statement, MSC Cruises said it is amending its itineraries that were due to call in Saint Petersburg “due to recent developments in the region and related security concerns”.
The statement added that the health and safety of its passengers and crew was its top priority and that all Russian port calls from the end of May until October would be dropped as a result.
The move affects the summer itineraries of MSC Preziosa, MSC Grandiosa, MSC Poesia and MSC Virtuosa.
MSC Cruises indicated that it is talks with other Baltic ports, such as Stockholm, Helsinki and Tallinn, to secure alternative itineraries and will communicate the exact details for each individual sailing as soon as possible to travel agents and any customers affected by the new arrangements.
MSC Cruises will also update its website to reflect the confirmed details of the new itineraries to provide maximum clarity for existing guests as well as for anyone looking to book future holidays at sea in the Baltic Sea, according to the statement.
Russia launched a devastating attack on Ukraine, a European democracy of 44 million people, last week, leading to more than 130 civilian deaths and a refugee exodus of more than 600,000 people.
The UN has estimated that more than 4-million Ukrainians may ultimately be forced to seek safety in neighbouring European countries as the conflict escalates.
The international community has moved to diplomatically and economically isolate Russia in retaliation, with Russian airlines banned from European and North American airspace, sanctions on the Russian economy and even a travel ban against Vladimir Putin and his inner-circle.
Against this backdrop, European and American cruise lines have been cancelling their planned cruises to Russia, primarily visiting the Baltic city of Saint Petersburg, the iconic imperial-era capital.
The UK Foreign Office has advised British citizens not to visit Russia in the near future, along with the US State Department, with both countries representing two of the largest cruise source markets in the world.