Ship Hijacking Causes Some Changes in Cruise Schedules With AM-Ship Hijack Bjt
NEW YORK (AP) _ Several cruise ships have changed their Mediterranean schedules, but this week’s hijacking of an Italian luxury liner is not having as much effect on travel as the TWA hijacking did in June, travel agents and cruise ship operators said Thursday.
″I think this has become a fact of life,″ said Peter Kohler, a Washington travel agent.
While many Americans canceled trips to Greece and the Middle East after a TWA airliner was hijacked with 151 people aboard, the hijacking of the Achille Lauro, which ended Wednesday, did not provoke a similar response.
″It doesn’t surprise me that there wouldn’t be many because the Mediterranean season is just about over. There are very few left to be taken,″ said Diana Orban, a spokeswoman for the industry’s 23-member Cruise Lines International Association.
″We’ve had no problems whatsoever,″ said Wilna Hemperley, manager of the Thomas Cook Travel office in Miami. ″We haven’t had any phone calls about it.″
Three cruise lines reported Thursday they had changed their Mediterranean schedules in response to passengers’ concerns. One man, an American passenger, was killed in the hijacking of the Achille Lauro. The others were freed.
An Oct. 19 cruise by the Norwegian line Sea Goddess will not stop at Alexandria and Port Said in Egypt and Haifa, Israel. Those stops will be restored on the Oct. 30 cruise.
″We had a lot of clients very concerned about the situation there, and we wanted to give them a choice,″ said Ron Kurtz, president of the line. There had been no cancellations as of Thursday.
A Costa Cruises ship in the Mediterranean reversed its itinerary and toured the Greek islands this week and will stop at Israel next week.
The change was made not only to reassure passengers but ″to help all the governments,″ said Howard Fine, president of Costa. ″We felt we should give them breathing room and not have our ship clogging up the situation.″
Two cruises later this month will resume normal schedules.
″We’ve had a booking surge,″ said Fine. ″I guess because people are thinking about it. They say, ’well, it happened and it can’t happen again.‴
Cunard Lines reported one cancellation for its Oct. 19 Mediterranean cruise.
″We’ve had a number of calls from travel agents asking fairly general questions,″ said Jim Sullivan, senior vice president of marketing and sales. ″These questions regard security measures. Our answers must be satisfactory, given there’s been only one cancellation.″
A Sun Line Cruises ship that left Athens on Monday was scheduled to stop at Alexandria, but the captain decided to bypass the port, said Karen Kopta, a spokeswoman for the line. It was the last Sun Line cruise destined for the Middle East this year.
Meanwhile, the Cruise Lines International Association polled its members and found security procedures varied from ″very strict″ to simply posting a guard at the gangway.
″I think there is no question that all the lines individually will be reviewing their security procedures, especially when we find out what happened in this particular incident,″ Ms. Orban said.