My cruise is no longer calling at St Petersburg. What is the legal position?
Several major cruise lines including Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian have announced that they will be cancelling calls at St Petersburg for the foreseeable future. Alternative itineraries are being offered. As with flight cancellations caused by the conflict in Ukraine this is a minor inconvenience compared to the suffering of the Ukrainian people but it is nevertheless a situation that has legal implications.
Cruises are undoubtedly covered by the Package Travel Regulations 2018 which provide that in the event of a significant change the passenger is entitled to terminate the contract and have a full refund within 14 days. Failing to call at St Petersburg would be regarded by most people as a significant change.
Alternatively the cruise line may offer the passenger ‘suitable alternative arrangements’ at no extra cost. If these arrangements are inferior to the original cruise the passenger is entitled to an ‘appropriate price reduction’. The passenger is entitled to reject these arrangements if they wish to and still obtain a full refund.
If the passenger chooses to terminate the contract and get a refund the question of additional compensation arises. This will be determined by whether the reason for the change was caused by ‘unavoidable and extraordinary circumstances’. This is almost certainly to be the case, not least because the Foreign Office is currently (3 March, 2022) advising against all travel to Russia.
While compensation may not be payable by the cruise line some travel insurance policies which include cruise cover offer compensation if a port is missed out so this is an alternative worth investigating.
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