Middle East Cruise News

Royal Caribbean switches to humanitarian work in Israel, AIDA cancels calls

Royal Caribbean has confirmed the cancellation of the remainder of its Israeli cruise season, with Rhapsody of the Seas switching from cruise operations to humanitarian work, while AIDA Cruises has confirmed the cancellation of ports calls in the country.

Rhapsody of the Seas sailed on Monday from Haifa, on its way to Cyprus at the request of the US embassy in Israel, carrying Americans evacuating the country amid the Israel-Hamas war.

The embassy had informed US residents that the voyage was based on space available on the ship, with passengers boarded on a first come, first serve basis.

Rhapsody of the Seas

“Royal Caribbean Group is actively supporting the U.S. Department of State in the assisted departure of American citizens,” said a statement from Royal Caribbean.

The passage to Limassol Port takes around 10-12 hours, with Royal Caribbean providing food and Wi-Fi, while U.S. consular staff on the ship and at the Limassol Port in Cyprus assist and provide information about onward travel to the United States.

It’s unclear whether the ship will be used to shuttle back and forth as an evacuation vessel, or whether the voyage was a one-off. There are around 500,000 Americans in Israel, but its not clear how many are looking to leave amid the outbreak of conflict.

AIDA Cruises is the latest cruise line to cancel port calls in Israel, following the pull out of several others in recent days.

Port calls in Israeli aboard AIDAprima and AIDAblu have been cancelled and replaced with Limassol and Rhodes.

AIDAprima was scheduled to call at the port of Haifa while the AIDAblu was supposed to dock in the port of Ashdod on its way to the Indian Ocean.

The AIDAprima will berth in the port of Limassol, Cyprus on November 25th, 2023, while AIDAblu will travel from Antalya to Rhodes and arrive in Limassol a day later than planned instead of an overnight in Ashdod on November 7th.

The cruise through the Suez Canal will then continue as planned. The company informed guests that excursions that cannot be carried out will be canceled and guests will receive a refund.

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