Royal Caribbean is closely monitoring the escalating political tensions in Israel, but thus far does not have any plans to change Odyssey of the Seas Israel cruises out of Haifa.
Editor’s note: This story was written on Thursday, prior to Royal Caribbean’s Saturday announcement of the cancellation of the season. The article below, which is now incorrect, was based on information provided to us by a spokesperson for Royal Caribbean.
Odyssey of the Seas is due to homeport in Haifa from June and sail week-long Mediterranean cruises visiting Cyprus and the Greek Isles, but those deployment plans were announced before a renewed spate of hostilities between Israel and Hamas.
The situation has prompted rumours that the ship is being redeployed to Florida, but Royal Caribbean has twice denied these rumours to Cruise Arabia & Africa.
Hostilities between Israel and Hamas have escalated throughout the week, with 32 Palestinians and three people in Israel killed at the time of writing.
Israel has carried out multiple air strikes in Gaza while the Hamas militant group has fired rockets at Tel Aviv.
The exchanges Wednesday and Thursday were the most intensive since a 2014 war in Gaza, promptinginternational concern that the situation could spiral out of control.
“We continue to monitor the situation, but have not made any adjustments to [Odyssey of the Seas’] sailings at this time,” a spokesperson for Royal Caribbean International told Cruise Arabia & Africa.
During the 2014 war between Israel and Hamas, an AIDA cruise ship calling in the Port of Ashdod was struck by shrapnel from a rocket fired by Hamas, but there were no injuries or damage reported.
The cruise line cancelled all calls to Ashdod out of an abundance of caution. It should be noted, however, that Ashdod is significantly closer to Tel Aviv, the target of Hamas rocket fire.
Ashdod lies just 20 kilometres from Tel Aviv, while Haifa is at least 50 kilometres north and therefore not within easy range of attack. In fact, the city has only been attacked once in recent history, during the 2014 war, without injuries or damage reported.
There have been reports of confrontations between Palestinians and Israelis in the city during the current unrest.
At the time of writing, Odyssey of the Seas was en-route from Haifa to Limassol, Cyprus, but without any passengers onboard. The ship called in Haifa last month to take on new crew members, as well as to get crew members vaccinated.
She is due to return to the city before the end of May for additional training and vaccinations, before commencing her Israel cruise season on June 4th.
Odyssey of the Seas will sail a combination of three- to seven-night voyages visiting the Greek Isles including Rhodes, Santorini, Mykonos and Athens, Greece and Limassol, Cyprus, roundtrip from Haifa.
Categories: Middle East Cruise News