Royal Caribbean International has cancelled all calls in Turkey for 2018. Royal Caribbean International owns the Royal Caribbean, Azamara Club Cruises and Celebrity Cruises brands.
A spokesperson for the cruise line tells Travel Agent that it has replaced its calls to Ephesus (Kusadasi), Turkey, with visits to Rhodes or Mykonos, Greece, citing “the current unpredictability of the state of Turkey.”
“Our decision-making process will always be driven by our concern for the safety of our guests and crew,” Royal Caribbean said. “Royal Caribbean International will continue to closely monitor the changing situation in Turkey and will remain hopeful that we will return to this popular port-of-call.”
Issues with terrorism and instability, as well as a recent diplomatic dispute, have led to a sharp decline in travel to Turkey over the past two years. Major cruise lines, including Royal Caribbean, began canceling calls in the country in late 2016 after a series of terrorist attacks and a failed coup attempt.
Earlier this month, Turkey and the United States suspended the issuance of visas over a diplomatic dispute stemming from the arrest of a U.S. consulate employee. Turkish officials arrested the employee, claiming that he had links to U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, who has been blamed by the Turkish government for the coup. That prompted the U.S. embassy in Ankara to announce that it was halting all non-immigrant visa services in Turkey, a move Turkey soon followed.
According to Reuters, a U.S. delegation has arrived in Turkey for talks on repairing bilateral ties. The U.S. has said it wants details regarding the charges against its staff, and, while Turkey’s foreign minister has said that the country would not submit to “impositions” from the United States to resolve the dispute, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s spokesperson said he expected the crisis to be resolved soon.