Royal Caribbean International will sail from Israel for the first time in May as it takes advantage of Israel’s world-beating vaccine roll-out to debut its newest ship Odyssey of the Seas, while North American cruises are still grounded.
Royal Caribbean will offer vaccinated Israelis the chance to take 3-7 night cruises to the Greek Isles and Cyprus, with itineraries departing roundtrip from Haifa, Israel, to destinations in the Mediterranean, including Rhodes, Santorini, Mykonos and Athens, Greece and Limassol, Cyprus. Israel recently signed tourism agreements with Greece and Cyprus allowing vaccinated persons to travel between the countries without quarantine.
Israel has already vaccinated over 50 percent of its population and over 85 percent of over 50s and at risk persons
Odyssey of the Seas: First ‘Green Island at sea’
“We are thrilled to debut Royal Caribbean cruises from Israel with our newest and most innovative ship, Odyssey of the Seas. Israeli travelers will be looking to get away, relax with total peace of mind, and enjoy the travel experiences they are missing dearly; and that is what we do best,” said Michael Bayley, president and CEO, Royal Caribbean International. “Sailing from Israel is an opportunity we have had our sights on for quite some time. We greatly appreciate the government of Israel for their collaboration and confidence in us to deliver memorable cruise experiences to their residents, and look forward to delivering on that promise aboard our newest ship – the first ‘Green Island’ at sea.”
“Thanks to the millions of vaccines we have brought, I am proud that Israel will be the first country in the world to launch Royal Caribbean’s new flagship. Royal Caribbean’s decision to come to Israel is a significant expression of confidence in our policy. This is an important economic, touristic moment for the State of Israel,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “Israel is a global model of success. We will continue our program – the ‘green passport’ – so that we can get out of the COVID-19 virus in peace. Just as we made Israel the world champion in vaccines, we will make it the world champion in economics and tourism in the post-Corona era.”
In conjunction with Israel’s health and tourism authorities, Royal Caribbean will be the first to offer fully vaccinated sailings, where both crew and guests above the age of 16 will be vaccinated against COVID-19. Details on the additional health and safety measures to be implemented by Israel and Royal Caribbean will be announced at a later date.
Cyprus and Greece on the itinerary
Greek Minister of Tourism, Mr. Haris Theoharis, said he supports all efforts for the resumption of cruising in Greece and the surrounding area. “We are very happy with today’s announcement as our recent travel agreement with Israel is already bringing results, and more people will have the opportunity to have unique experiences in our beautiful destinations and islands,” he said.
Savvas Perdios, the Deputy Minister of Tourism for Cyprus commented, “It is an honor to be featured in Royal Caribbean’s itinerary this summer, and we are delighted to welcome their newest ship to our island. Cyprus supports the cruise industry and is pleased to help the industry on its road to recovery. We are certain that guests will have a great time, both on board the ship and when visiting Cyprus, one of the most beautiful islands in the Mediterranean.”
Uri Schnabel, CEO of the Sunorama Group, which represents Royal Caribbean in Israel, said: “This is a historic and exciting event on a national scale. The fact that Royal Caribbean chose Israel is a huge certificate of honor, and congratulations to the tens of thousands of Israelis who can enjoy the newest and most luxurious ship in the world, and also to the Israeli economy that will benefit from the cooperation with the most important and significant shipping company in the world.”
Odyssey of the Seas had originally been planned to debut in November 2020, but the launch was put back due to the coronavirus pandemic, which also set back construction of the Quantum Ultra Class ship. A fire onboard the Odyssey of the Seas in May 2020 also led to “extensive property damage and expensive delays,” according to the Meyer Werft shipyard in Germany where it was built.
Odyssey of the Seas – Israel: First ‘Green Island at sea’