Travel Tuesday: When Your Cruise Itinerary Changes!

For the past 10.5 months, Mr. B and I have been extremely excited about our 10 Day Mediterranean Cruise booked on the Norwegian Jade. We chose this vacation based on the price and itinerary; it embarks from Rome – which is one of my top 5 places I want to visit – and had an overnight port-of-call scheduled in Alexandria, Egypt. Mr. B has been fascinated by Egyptian culture as long as I’ve known him, and seeing the Pyramids is a dream of his. I wasn’t arguing with the idea either. We had a great overnight tour planned with Ramses Tours that would take us to the Giza Plateau to see the Sphinx and Pyramids, along with a dinner cruise down the Nile River. I was also determined to get a pic on top of a camel in front of a Pyramid, no matter how much they may stink or spit.

Well, if you’ve watched the news in the past few months, you’ll recall that there was a lot of unrest in Egypt, Libya and other predominately Muslim countries in September, all of which stemmed from a viral video that made a mockery of the Prophet Muhammad. (this is a no no). The video led to an outbreak of violence in the region and, unfortunately, the loss of several American lives due to misguided Anti-American rage.
We kept a close eye on the situation, as our cruise was rapidly approaching. Royal Caribbean ended up cancelling their scheduled stop in Alexandia for Mariner of the Seas as a direct result of the protests and violence. That was probably a good call, as it was in the heat of the protests. In the meantime, my fellow cruisers and I remained in communication. Once it appeared the worst had passed, we all breathed a collective sigh of relief and continued our Cairo planning.

But not so fast. In early October, one of my fellow cruisers received an email from Norwegian that included the following statement:

We believe the ports in Egypt remain viable ports of call at the present time. However, because of the situation in the region and the feedback from guests, the company is cancelling Norwegian Jade’s scheduled stops in Egypt from November 21, 2012 to April 17, 2013 and will call in Istanbul, Turkey and Naples, Italy instead.

Upon reading this, I may or may not have collapsed onto the floor via a well-executed “wall slide”…

This is a Wall Slide

We understood that Norwegian did what they felt was in the best interest of its passengers. We understand that Egypt is unstable. We also understand that we are getting two new ports instead of the one we are missing. But we didn’t LIKE it. Especially since three earlier sailings are still docking in Alexandria.

While chatting with Mr. B and my fellow cruisers, I realized that we were all coping with this sudden change very similarly; we were all experiencing the Five Stages of Grief, as identified by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. (and yes, I used Wikipedia as a resource. Please don’t judge)

1. Denial

When I first saw that email, I refused to believe its authenticity. In spite of how detailed the information was – complete with a new itinerary – and the option to switch to one of those earlier sailings, I couldn’t accept that it was real. I checked NCL.com the next morning and our online itinerary still showed us going to Egypt. It wasn’t until I actually called and spoke with a human that I understood that we were no longer going to Alexandria.

It took Mr. B about two more days to realize that we were no longer going to Egypt.

2. Anger

Oh we were MAD. Some of my fellow cruisers cancelled their trip, either having been to or having no interest in our new ports of call. Others wrote strongly-worded letters to Norwegian or posted on their Facebook page. Others promised to never cruise NCL again. We just skulked about, really. I couldn’t see anything shaped like a pyramid without getting mad. When our Welcome Aboard kit arrived in the mail, Mr. B. smacked it to the floor. Just angry.

3. Bargaining

At this point, I attempted to change our sailing. Once Norwegian ensured that we could swap to one of the earlier dates, we spent the next several hours emailing our supervisors to confirm that we could get the earlier dates off instead. However, once we checked the cost of changing our flights, we realized that we couldn’t handle the $1300 increase in our fare (which didn’t include change fees). So much for that plan. (I’m a travel agent not a miracle worker!)

4. Depression

This stage didn’t last long. We were bummed for a minute, before realizing that we still had an AMAZING opportunity to cruise the Mediterranean, which is not an experience afforded to many. What was there to be sad about?

5. Acceptance

I’m here…I don’t know if Mr. B is just yet. I finally began researching our new ports of call, and you know what? We may not be going to Egypt, but we ARE going to some pretty interesting places! I’m looking forward to exploring Sultanahmet in Istanbul and taking pictures of the Amalfi Coast. Cairo isn’t going anywhere (God Willing), and hopefully we will have a chance to get there some day. We WILL enjoy our vacation, no matter what!

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