The ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas has escalated in recent days, with rocket attacks, airstrikes, and clashes on the ground. The violence has claimed the lives of hundreds of people, mostly Palestinians, and injured thousands more. The international community has called for an immediate ceasefire, but the prospects of a peaceful resolution seem dim.
The situation in Israel has also affected the travel and tourism industry, as many cruise lines have decided to cancel or change their itineraries that include stops in the country. The safety and security of passengers and crew members are the main concerns for the cruise operators, who have been closely monitoring the geopolitical situation in the region.
Cruise Lines Alter Their Plans
Several cruise lines have announced that they will not visit Israel in the coming weeks or months, as the fighting continues. Some of the brands that have canceled or modified their Israel calls are:
- Royal Caribbean: The line has canceled its October 9 and October 13 sailings of Rhapsody of the Seas from Haifa, Israel. The ship was supposed to visit several ports in Greece and Cyprus, as well as Ashdod and Haifa in Israel. The line is offering a full refund to affected passengers. The line has also rerouted its Odyssey of the Seas, which was en route to Haifa, to visit Bodrum in Turkey and Limassol in Cyprus instead.
- Celebrity Cruises: The line has canceled its October 20 visit to Israel by Celebrity Apex, which was scheduled to stop at Ashdod and Haifa. The line has also canceled a two-day visit to Alexandria, Egypt, on the same sailing. The ship will now visit Santorini, Mykonos, and Rhodes in Greece before continuing to Port Said, Egypt.
- Holland America Line: The line had a ship docked in Haifa on Saturday when the fighting broke out. The vessel, Nieuw Statendam, halted disembarkation, recalled passengers who had already left on tours, and headed out to sea by the evening. It skipped a subsequent call at Ashdod. The canceled Israel calls were the last scheduled for any Holland America ship this year.
- MSC Cruises: The line has canceled Israel calls for at least the next two weeks. MSC Magnifica was supposed to visit Haifa on October 14 and 28, but will now sail to Rhodes and Heraklion in Greece instead.
- Norwegian Cruise Line: The line has canceled its October 17 and 24 sailings of Norwegian Jade from Athens, Greece. The ship was supposed to visit Haifa and Ashdod in Israel, as well as Limassol in Cyprus and Kusadasi in Turkey. The line is offering a full refund or a future cruise credit to affected passengers.
- Regent Seven Seas Cruises: The line has canceled its October 16 sailing of Seven Seas Voyager from Istanbul, Turkey. The ship was supposed to visit Ashdod and Haifa in Israel, as well as Alexandria and Port Said in Egypt. The line is offering a full refund or a future cruise credit to affected passengers.
- Oceania Cruises: The line has canceled its October 18 sailing of Riviera from Istanbul, Turkey. The ship was supposed to visit Ashdod and Haifa in Israel, as well as Alexandria and Port Said in Egypt. The line is offering a full refund or a future cruise credit to affected passengers.
- Celestyal Cruises: The line has canceled all stops in Israel through the end of November. Celestyal Crystal was supposed to sail weekly to Israel from Piraeus, Greece, visiting Ashdod and Haifa. The ship will now visit Istanbul and Volos in Turkey, and Limassol in Cyprus instead.
What Travelers Need to Know
The cruise lines that have canceled or changed their Israel visits have contacted their passengers and travel agents with alternative options. Passengers who have booked flights or hotels independently may need to contact their providers directly to make adjustments or cancellations.
Travelers who are planning to visit Israel in the near future should check with their cruise lines or travel agents for the latest updates on their itineraries. They should also monitor the travel advisories issued by their governments and follow the local health and safety protocols.
Travelers who wish to support the people of Israel can donate to reputable humanitarian organizations that are providing relief and assistance to those affected by the conflict.