After sailing for three weeks from Germany, the Royal Caribbean cruise ship the Odyssey of the Seas was given a water salute yesterday as it entered Haifa Port. This was the first-time ever that a Royal Caribbean cruise ship has come to Israel, ahead of 30 planned round-trip cruises to Greece and Cyprus between June and October.
Only passengers who have been vaccinated will be allowed abroad the cruises and tens of thousands of Israelis have already booked their cruises. In regular times, the ship has a capacity for 5,500 passengers but this has been reduced by half to allow for social distancing. Cruise prices begin from NIS 800 per night per person - a competitive price compared with a hotel of similar quality in Eilat.
According to a press release from Royal Caribbean, the ship has docked in Haifa six weeks before the first cruise to take in supplies and to give the crew and Haifa Port a chance to get to know each other. Royal Caribbean adds that the Odyssey of the Seas will leave Haifa on Friday and return on May 12 for another two days "to practice and to restock."
The fact that the ship is setting sail and returning in three weeks time had led to speculation that the crew 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." For its part Royal Caribbean insists that it will meet all Ministry of Health regulations. "Globes" has been told that Ministry of Health officials will board the ship to ensure that all regulations are being met.
Children booked to be passengers will be required to show a negative Covid-19 test before being allowed aboard.
Odyssey of the Seas had been scheduled to sail out of Civitavecchia in Italy this summer but was redeployed to Israel due to the global pandemic and the low infection rate in Israel following the country's successful vaccine rollout.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on April 22, 2021
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