Photo from Rhapsody of the Seas | Royal Caribbean
Royal Caribbean’s Rhapsody of the Seas has taken a change of course. Having cancelled all cruises from Israel just days ago due to the war raging between Israel and Hamas, Royal Caribbean has now sent Rhapsody of the Seas back to Israel.
Currently, there are Americans caught in the conflict between Israel and Hamas who are desperate to leave the country. A security alert for the region was issued on Sunday, October 15th, with a recommendation to leave Israel. In addition, the U.S. State Department has a travel advisory for Israel, the West Bank and Gaza.
Air travel to Israel has stopped, and even major U.S. airlines have suspended flights to and from Tel Aviv. The next best option to evacuate Americans out of the area was ships.
Royal Caribbean is answering an appeal from the United States Department of State to provide safe passage for Americans out of the region.
The Royal Caribbean Group issued a statement on Monday, October 16th, 2023, that they were “actively assisting the U.S. Department of State in an effort to evacuate American citizens in the area.”
“Now, with enhanced safety precautions in place, our ship is providing free passage, including accommodation and food, for Americans in the region wishing to leave and find safer ground,” Jason Liberty, president and CEO of the line’s parent company Royal Caribbean Group, said in an email to employees that was shared with USA Today.
The Americans who choose to leave will depart from the Port of Haifa and sail to nearby Cyprus. The trip will take 10- to 12 hours. The Times Of Israel has reported that Americans had lined up at the port to board the Rhapsody of the Seas.
With the safety precautions in place, Royal is provided passage and food at no cost for Americans in the region who were hoping to leave the region
The U.S. Embassy in Israel has a posting on its website stating:
Subject: Security Alert #10: Planned Ship for Departing U.S. Citizens, October 16, 2023
Location: Haifa, Israel
Event: The U.S. government is assisting U.S. nationals and their immediate family members with a valid travel document to depart Haifa via sea for Cyprus on October 16, 2023. Boarding begins at 0800 AM local time. U.S. citizens must arrive at Haifa port passenger terminal no later than 0900 AM local time. Boarding will proceed in order of arrival and is on a space limited basis.
Royal Caribbean Has A History Of Helping
Several times in recent years, Royal Caribbean has come to the aid with their cruise ships when humanitarian aid was needed.
As recently as 2021, Royal’s Explorer of the Seas was sent to Florida when a condominium in Surfside collapsed. The ship was used to provide accommodation for first responders as they were taking part in the rescue effort.
Royal worked with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Customs and the Miami-Dade Port Authority as well as Port Miami in the wake of the condominium disaster to provide assistance where needed.
As a regular visitor to the Bahamas, Royal pledged $1 million for Hurricane Dorian disaster relief in 2019. They also sent ships to the Abaco islands to deliver much-needed supplies in the aftermath of the hurrican.
Royal sent Serenade of the Seas to St. Vincent when the La Soufrière volcano was expected to erupt. They assisted in evacuating residents out of harm’s way.
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