Royal Caribbean appoints Haifa as home port
Royal Caribbean Cruises has designated Haifa as its home port for the 2022 summer season. The global cruise giant has announced that the Rhapsody of the Seas will be based in Haifa and will operate 28 cruises to Cyprus and the Greek Islands between August and October – ranging from two-night trips to eight-night trips. The Rhapsody of the Seas, which will drop anchor in Israel in August, can carry up to 2,000 vacationers with a crew of 765.
Royal Caribbean, which operates from 33 ports including Barcelona, Miami and Sydney, has also scheduled cruises from Haifa for summer 2023.
Royal Caribbean had scheduled cruises from Haifa last summer on the Odyssey of the Seas, which even anchored in Hiaifa but canceled them in May after disagreements with the Health Ministry over protocols related to Covid and the outbreak of the conflict in Gaza. Canceling cruises cost Royal Caribbean tens of millions of dollars in refunds to thousands of Israelis who had booked cruises.
At a press conference in Israel attended by Tourism Minister Yoel Razvozov, Sean Treacy, Royal Caribbean’s senior vice president of sales, and Ben Bouldin, vice president of EMEA, spoke optimistically about the tourism potential of cruises from Haifa for Israelis and people coming to Israel for cruises.
Razvozov said, “This year more than 160,000 tourists will come to Israel through the seaports. Next year more than 250,000 will come. Sea tourism is an important anchor in the Ministry of Tourism’s plan, which we are currently preparing, to bring 10 million tourists to Israel each year by 2030.”
Royal Caribbean’s 28 cruises to Israel will begin Aug. 5 and end Oct. 30. The cruises will call at Limassol (Cyprus) and Rhodes, Athens, Mykonos and Santorini in Greece.
The cruises have been tailored to the Israeli market and will include kosher food, glatt kosher food, Hebrew menus and Shabbat lifts. Unvaccinated passengers will be permitted with PCR tests performed before boarding and at the end of the cruise.
Cruise prices start from $192 for two nights, with six-night cruises starting at $450, prices can be higher depending on demand and date.
Bouldin said: “Our product is international but we recognize the needs of Israeli passengers. Israelis come back every year and love cruise vacations. We took a serious look at the Israeli market last year and realized there was potential here. This is what motivated us when we launched plans until 2024, to continue operating cruises from Haifa.”
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He added: “The potential doesn’t stop with Israeli tourists. We can bring in tourists from the United States, Brazil and Mexico. Cruise enthusiasts will want to visit Israel and spend several days on our cruise. destinations beyond the Greek islands for longer cruises from Haifa.”
Royal Caribbean isn’t the only cruise line departing from Haifa. MSC will also operate cruises from Haifa to Cyprus and the Greek Islands.
Published by Globes, Israel business news – en.globes.co.il – on March 14, 2022.
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