In the aftermath of the horrific attack on Israeli citizens on 7th October, most of the cruise ship operators in the region quickly switched their Eastern Mediterranean itineraries to steer clear of the country’s major ports.
In addition, some cruise ships were used to ferry people out of the areas to nearby countries of relative safety.
For example, Royal Caribbean’s (RCL) ‘Rhapsody of the Seas’ was chartered by the US Government and left Haifa carrying American citizens out of Israel.
She departed Haifa bound for Limassol in Cyprus carrying around 2,500 passengers.
Boarding was restricted to a first-come, first-served basis to American’s with valid travel documents and their immediate family members, according to the US Embassy in Israel.
However, all passengers were required to sign a promissory note agreeing to repay the US government for the cost of the trip.
“Royal Caribbean Group is actively assisting the US Department of State in an effort to evacuate American citizens in the area,” RCL said in a statement.
Elsewhere, MSC Cruises had also suspended its Israeli operations.
The company’s ‘MSC Musica’ was homeported in Haifa and left on 5th October for Limassol and Mykonos on her regular itinerary.
When the attack occurred, she was underway off Rhodes and had already called at Mykonos.
Due toi the situation, her voyage was cut short and the Israeli passengers were transferred to Mano Maritime’s ’Crown Iris’ chartered to take the ‘MSC Musica’s’ 800 Israeli passengers back to Haifa.
On 10th October, both vessels arrived at Limassol and carried out the passenger transfer. All of the Israeli passengers were back in Haifa on the following day, and MSC covered all related costs, the cruise line said.
‘Crown Iris’ (ex ‘Royal Majesty’, ex ‘Norwegian Majesty’) is Israeli-operated by Mano and has been homeported at Haifa since 2019.