AmaWaterways has canceled cruises in Russia onboard the AmaKatarina in 2015, AmaWaterways president and co-owner Rudi Schreiner told Travel Agent.
"As you know, Russia has been a strong product for AmaWaterways," said Schreiner. "However, due to what has been taking place in Russia and Ukraine, the AmaWaterways senior leadership team has given careful thought to how to best handle, in order to ensure the best possible experiences for our guests. At this time, we have decided not to operate cruises aboard the AmaKatarina in 2015."
Update: AmaWaterways is offering guests booked on the Russia itineraries the chance to go on another 2015 cruise in Europe, Vietnam & Cambodia or Myanmar. The line is extending a discount of $250 per person off the cruise fare on their new departure.
The line is promoting as an option its seven-night Black Sea Voyage cruise, which sails between Budapest and Rousse, and visits Bulgaria, Romania and the Iron Gates. Agents can add an optional four-night land extension in Istanbul to this itinerary.
For guests who do not want to rebook, AmaWaterways will be issuing a full refund of all services purchased through the line.
The move makes AmWaterways the latest company to cancel travel to Russia following a crisis sparked by the country's move to annex Crimea back in March.
In May, Silversea Cruises modified the itineraries on four Black Sea voyages originally scheduled to call in Yalta, Sevastopol or Odessa. The itineraries ranged in departure dates from July 21, 2014, through October 13, 2014. Guests were offered a choice of an onboard credit or complimentary full-day experience due to the changes.
Similarly, Exeter International cancelled its trips to Ukraine in late April as the conflict led to a drop in consumer requests for travel to the area.
"Requests for Ukraine have completely fallen off during this time of conflict," Kevan Cowie, Exeter International's director of sales and marketing, told Travel Agent at the time. "We do not believe that this is the best choice for clients at this stage--though are hopeful that calm will prevail and that the Ukraine will return in the near future."
In July, Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine. According to a preliminary report by the Dutch Safety Board (DSB), the aircraft broke up in mid-air "as the result of structural damage caused by a large number of high-energy objects that penetrated the aircraft from outside."
Russian-backed separatists had been accused of shooting down the plane, although Russia denied involvement. A final report from the DSB is expected sometime next summer.
Travel Agent has followed up with AmaWaterways to find out the line's policy regarding refunds or re-bookings for guests booked on 2015 Russia itineraries. Stay tuned to www.travelagentcentral.com for further updates.