Having sailed for three weeks from Germany, the cruise ship Odyssey of the Seas received a water salute yesterday upon entering Haifa Port. The first time a Royal Caribbean cruise ship has visited Israel, ahead of 30 planned cruises to Greece and Cyprus between June and October.
Passengers who are vaccinated will be allowed to embark on the cruises, and tens of thousands of Israelis have already booked their cruises. Regularly, the ship can accommodate 5,500 passengers, but half has reduced it to allow for social distancing. Starting at NIS 800 per person per night, cruise prices are competitive with similar quality hotels in Eilat.
According to a press release from Royal Caribbean, the ship docked in Haifa six weeks before its inaugural cruise to take supplies and get to know the crew and Haifa Port. Royal Caribbean explains the Odyssey of the Seas will provide additional two days “to practice and restock” after leaving Haifa on Friday.
Because the ship is setting sail and returning in 3 weeks, it has speculated that crew members are being vaccinated in Israel. But the Ministry of Health denies this.
“The Ministry has not approved the vaccination of the crew and will not vaccinate them.”
On its part, Royal Caribbean says that it will comply with all Ministry of Health regulations. We have been informed that ministry officials will assess whether the ship’s regulations are being met.
Children booked to be passengers will be required to show a negative Covid-19 test before being allowed aboard.
Royal Caribbean had ordered odyssey of the Seas to sail from Civitavecchia, Italy, this summer. Still, it was redeployed to Israel following outbreaks of the global pandemic and relatively low infections rate in the country following its successful vaccine rollout.