Celebrity Cruises is urging customers stranded in Spain not to head to Bilbao in the hope of being repatriated onboard Celebrity Eclipse.
The cruise line decided to send its newest ship to Spain to help with the repatriation of customers rather than hosting the first of two naming celebrations on Thursday and Friday.
But it has stressed that it is working only with Thomas Cook, Tui and the Co-operative Travel Trading Group, and customers should head to Bilbao only if they are contacted by one of the three companies.
Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises managing director Jo Rzymowska said: “We would have loved to open this to everybody, but security is still our primary concern so logistically it makes sense to work with a select number of suppliers.
“We could either sit back and do nothing, or do something to help and deal with any problems that arise. As the enormity of the situation became apparent, we realised that doing nothing was not an option.”
Celebrity Eclipse will run the mercy mission to Spain before returning to Southampton for naming celebrations this weekend, and will then begin its inaugural season from the UK on Monday.
Rzymowska said Royal Caribbean was currently working on a four-week plan to ensure as many customers as possible would be able to get to its European cruises by road or rail if flights remained disrupted. The company has 33 ships positioned around the world.
She also said that the response to the decision to pull this week’s first naming celebration had been universally positive.
“We were due to have our top Captain’s Club members and key trade partners onboard, and the reaction from everybody has been incredibly positive,” she said.
“The great joy of having Eclipse based in the UK is that we will be able to make sure that those who were not able to attend will be accommodated on turnaround days.”