Royal Caribbean International has confirmed that they are in fact cancelling Odyssey of the Seas Israel cruises amid ongoing conflict between Israeli security forces and Palestinians.
A previous version of this story indicated that the planned cruise season would go ahead as planned, based on information provided by the cruise line’s spokesperson for the European and Middle Eastern markets.
Royal Caribbean has since issued a press release stating that the upcoming cruises from Haifa in Israel have been cancelled.
“Due to the unrest in Israel and the region, Odyssey has not been able to complete the preparations required to operate from Haifa as planned,” the cruise line said in the release.
Odyssey of the Seas was due to homeport in Haifa, Israel from June, sailing Mediterranean cruises to Cyprus and the Greek Isles, but those plans were called into question by the escalating conflict between Israel and Hamas.
Cruise Arabia & Africa reached out to Royal Caribbean International on Thursday and were told that Odyssey of the Seas Israel cruises have not been changed, and that the cruise line is “monitoring the situation closely”.
On Saturday it was reported by Crew Center that Odyssey of the Seas’ crew have been informed that the Israel season has been cancelled, with the ship now intended to be repositioned to Florida in the US.
Cruise Arabia & Africa reached out to Royal Caribbean again and were told that the cruise line is still planning to go ahead with Odyssey of the Seas Israel cruises.
“Our answer remains the same: we continue to monitor the situation, but have not made any adjustments to Odyssey of the Seas’ sailings at this time,” a spokesperson for the line said.
However, Royal Caribbean has now said that it is in fact cancelling its scheduled Israel cruises aboard Odyssey of the Seas.
The announcement comes as fighting between Israeli security forces and Hamas continues to escalate. Haifa is located well away from the main conflict zone, and has only ever been targeted once in a failed attack during the 2014 war, but Royal Caribbean appears to be acting out of an abundance of caution.
Over at the Royal Caribbean Blog chat forums, there’s been some speculation that the cruise line might have cancelled Odyssey of the Seas Israel cruises not because of the political situation in the country, but because of issues with getting crew vaccinated.
There have been rumours that Royal Caribbean was planning to acquire COVID vaccines from Israel, but local media have reported the Israeli Ministry of Health as denying these rumours.
In the Crew Center’s report on Odyssey of the Seas Israel cruises being cancelled, it was expected that vaccinated crew from Odyssey would be transferred to Anthem of the Seas before Odyssey sails with her unvaccinated crew to the US. Both ships are in port in Limassol, Cyprus at the time of writing.