Travel firms plan for cancellations as Ukraine conflict hits other European countries

By Linsey McNeill
25/02/2022
Home » Travel firms plan for cancellations as Ukraine conflict hits other European countries

Tour operators and cruise lines are preparing to cancel or amend holidays to eastern Europe following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Several countries neighbouring Russia and Ukraine have also been dragged into the conflict, with Lithuania’s President declaring a state of emergency.

He ordered Lithuania’s army to guard its borders with Belarus, where Russian forced have gathered, and the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad.

The state of emergency, declared hours after Russian forces invaded Ukraine, will be valid for two weeks  – unless it is cancelled by Lithuania’s Parliament.

Meanwhile operators and cruise lines to Ukraine and Russia are cancelling or amending itineraries.

Regent Holidays said it was contacting all clients with departures to Ukraine, Russia, Belarus and Moldova up to 31 May to discuss cancelling, rescheduling or changing their holidays.

Brand manager Andrea Godfrey said: “In light of the escalating tensions between Russia and western Europe and the shock of this morning’s news, our thoughts are naturally with our many friends and partners in both destinations.

“Needless to say we are following these events extremely closely and are in touch with many friends on the ground in Kyiv and beyond.

“As one of the UK’s leading specialist tour operators to Russia and Ukraine and having spent years living in both countries, I am truly saddened by the events unfolding.”

Regent doesn’t have any clients in any of the affected countries at the moment, but it said it was handling a ‘heavy volume’ of enquiries from concerned customers.

St Petersburg is considered ‘the jewel in the crown’ of Baltic cruises
What about Baltic cruises?

Norwegian Cruise Line has already stripped the Russian city St Petersburg from its Baltic cruises for the whole of the rest of 2022 and P&O Cruises say they’ll amend Baltic cruises, due to start later this year, if necessary.

Saga removed Odessa from its Baltic cruises last week and today it said: “We are now looking at the impact of the latest developments on our Baltic cruises later this year which were due to call in at St Peterburg.

“We will continue to monitor the situation and if necessary make further alterations to our itineraries whilst still ensuring the best experience for our guests”.

Celebrity, Holland America Line and Royal Caribbean are among other cruise lines with Baltic cruises this spring, all of which include a stop in St Petersburg. New cruise line Ambassador also has a Baltic Treasures & St Petersburg cruise, starting in May.

P&O Cruises tweeted that it is ‘monitoring the situation closely’. In response, a couple of customers due to sail in May said they would prefer to cancel.

What about travel to other countries?

Some holidaymakers with bookings to other eastern European destinations are also concerned about their trips.

Several have posted in Facebook groups to say they’re concerned about Easter holidays to countries including Bulgaria and Lithuania

Some even said they were nervous about trips to Turkey, which is separated from Ukraine by the Black Sea and sits on the other side of Georgia to Russia.

Of the 7 countries that border Ukraine, the Foreign Office is only advising against holidays in Belarus and travel to some parts of Russia. It is also advising Brits to leave Ukraine immediately, if it is safe for them to do so.

In an update to its travel advice for Russia, the Foreign Office yesterday warned: “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has caused significant political tension between Russia and Western countries.”

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