After the recent unrest in North Africa and the terrible earthquake and nuclear disaster in Japan, the cruise industry has had to make some quick adjustments. Itineraries have been modified, ship have been re-routed and entire cruises have been cancelled. Our friend Captain Philippe Fichet-Delavault was literally stuck in-between France and Egypt whilst trying to board his Costa ship bound for Port Said.
The great thing about a ship is its flexibility; you are not traveling on a track, you can deviate. By so doing, cruise ships can avoid areas of concern from revolutionary outbreak to bad weather. The downside is that you can only deviate for so long before the ship needs to call on a port for fuel and provisions.
After the earthquake in Japan many were asking about how a cruise ship would be affected by an earthquake and tsunami. Luckily, earthquakes are fairly inconsequential to ships at sea as are tsunamis which are experienced as nothing more than a lump in the sea. For this reason, ships head out to open ocean after an earthquake. There have been many times while in Alaska that the ship I was on was told not to come into port following a small earthquake. The force of a major tsunami cannot be underestimated as we saw when large fishing boats and cargo ships were tossed around like toys in Sendai harbor after the quake.
At this point no one knows what is going on or what will happen with the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant which has recently raised its danger level to that of Chernobyl. Emissions are being monitored everywhere. Regarding tourism to places like Tokyo, the Japanese National Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism says, “Currently, the level of radiation in Tokyo City, Yokohama City, Kawaski City and Ichihara City (Chiba) were as shown in the attachment at very safe level to health.” There seems to be no cause for concern over visits to southern cities like Kobe, Osaka, Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Though much attention has been focused on Japan and Egypt, cruise ships are also by-passing ports in Mexico due to violence. The popular beach town of Mazatlan has been taken off of almost every itinerary offered in the region, a fact that is bound to hit the local economy very hard.
For more on the topic, here are a few articles I found: