Voyages to Antiquity has shelved its entire winter 2013-14 programme in Asia after its ship was battered by torrential rain, rough seas and gale force winds in the region in January and February.
The company said it regretted taking the decision which will leave the 570-passenger ship Aegean Odyssey (pictured) laid up in Greece for the winter.
An unspecified number of passengers booked on the cruises will either get their deposits returned or be given the option to sail in 2014-15 when a preliminary programme is released in six to eight weeks time.
“The fact is that despite many positive aspects, the programme of 2012-13 had a number of voyages which encountered several unpredicted challenges beyond its control including abnormally bad weather systems,” the company said.
These included the ship being subjected to winds of up to force 10 in strength, and ocean swells of between 18 and 33ft often accompanied by torrential rain during its debut winter in the South China Sea.
The worst of the bad weather affected the ship as it travelled between Hong Kong and the Philippines and to northern Borneo.
“Although previously uncommon, the chance of these conditions recurring would adversely affect our ability to provide the levels of passenger service for which we are renowned – this is an area we are not prepared to compromise,” the line said.
Managing director David Yellow said: “We plan all our programmes with meticulous detail but the problems we encountered, most notably the severe weather the region experienced this past winter, was beyond our control.
“With this in mind, we are leaving the market for this winter and will dock in Piraeus, Greece as we have in previous years.
“By exiting at this stage we know that we are disappointing those who have already booked, and we are sorry for these guests.
“It is important all our cruises match up to our high quality standards, hence we have taken the difficult decision to cancel, and concentrate our efforts on revising the programme in the area for 2014-15. This new cruise programme will feature areas less prone to unpredictable weather which was a recurrence of the first programme.
“We hope that our guests will re-book with us for the 2014-15.”
The forthcoming winter sailings were due to run between November and March following a similar route to the first season.
The revised programme of destinations for 2014-15 will not include the areas which saw such severe weather conditions this year, but still visit places that provide the interest, according to the company.
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