The unrest in north Africa and the Middle East has prompted the European Cruise Council to reassure customers that member lines follow rigorous security regimes.

The situation, particularly in north African countries with a Mediterranean seaboard, has prompted lines to alter itineraries and cancel ports of call and to keep a close eye on the develpoing situation.

And with Libya the target of allied bombing and its leader Colonel Mummar Gaddafi making threats to western interests there is a heightened awareness around the security of guests and crew.

The ECC said in a statement that members “will continue to operate cruises that are well protected from unrest in parts of north Africa and the Middle East, avoiding calls to any geopolitically unstable areas”.

It added: “All ECC member lines employ rigorous security measures (both on board and in port) to ensure the safety and security of their guests, crew and ships worldwide. These lines operate within full compliance with the provisions of the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code.

“Additionally, our member lines also coordinate closely with local and international law enforcement agencies, as well as with government foreign affairs and defence departments, as part of an ongoing assessment of operations and conditions in various countries.

“The current situation is being constantly monitored and because of the unique flexibility of cruise ships itineraries can be altered if necessary.”

Manfredi Lefebvre d’Ovidio, Chairman of the ECC said: “Cruising with an ECC member line presents a safe holiday option. Our Cruise lines have the unique flexibility to reposition our cruise ships wherever it is safe.

“Our guests will never be short of choices and will visit many fantastic destinations. We put the safety and security of our guests and crew above all other considerations.”