Royal Caribbean to sail from Israel with new Odyssey of the Seas

While the global pandemic from COVID-19 remains, and the cruise industry is shut down in the U.S., Royal Caribbean is moving forward with Israel’s success in vaccinating more than half of its population and plans to sail its newest ship from there beginning in May.

Israel recently began what it calls its Green Passport program, which lets those who have been vaccinated get access to things like hotels, gyms, theaters and concerts. Now that program will extend to planned round-trip sailings from Haifa, Israel to ports of call in Greece and Cyprus.

Israel has made recent travel agreements with those two countries. So now the ship, which can hold more than 4,200 passengers at double capacity, will make 3- to 7-night sailings visiting places like Rhodes, Santorini, Mykonos and Athens, Greece plus Limassol, Cyprus.

“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,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a press release. “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. 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.”

The ship is still slated to come to Florida by November, sailing from Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale. It will be the first time Florida has been the home port for a Quantum-class vessel from the cruise line.

The return of sailing in the U.S. though remains in question, with cruise lines continuing to incrementally cancel itineraries as they also try to work with the strict series of COVID-19 safety protocols approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that runs through Nov. 1, 2021.

Around the world, though, cruise lines are coming back online in Europe and Asia to some degree.

The vaccination requirement is something some lines have already stated will be part of their return to sailing, including Crystal Cruises, which sails around the world, and U.S.-based smaller lines American Queen Steamboat Company and Victory Cruise Lines.

Bigger lines like Royal Caribbean have yet to state what their vaccine plans will be for U.S. sailings when they do get back to business, but at the moment, CDC guidelines do not require them.

Orlando sentinel

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