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Cruise lines cancel Middle East sailings as Israel-Gaza war escalates

Submitted by kgnadmin on

As the Israel-Gaza conflict continues to intensify, major cruise lines have made the difficult decision to either cancel or indefinitely postpone multiple voyages to the Middle East. The Israel-Hamas war, which erupted on October 7, has seen violence escalating in the past month.  Majour cruise companies have taken proactive measures to revise their itineraries, specifically avoiding the Red Sea and the surrounding region, with sailings impacted until the year 2024.

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings announced the cancellation and redirection of all calls to Israel and certain destinations in the surrounding region for the remainder of 2023 due to the escalating conflict. NCLH acknowledged that the ongoing turmoil could potentially impact its earnings for the year 2023. The company is currently in the process of extending these cancellations to include all scheduled calls to Israel in 2024, closely monitor and evaluate future sailings, making adjustments as necessary.

Royal Caribbean Group has also taken measures to address the evolving situation, removing Israel from its 2024 itineraries. Reuters confirmed this decision, quoting an email sent to travel agents that outlined the modifications to itineraries extending until October 2024 for its Royal Caribbean International unit that included stops in Israel. In response to the situation, announced the cancellation of the Middle East season for its Rhapsody of the Seas cruise, which was initially scheduled to run until November 12, 2023. Among the affected itineraries is the Serenade of the Seas, originally set to sail from Dubai in May, heading to Athens via the Suez Canal. The company has also revealed plans to reposition its Jewel of the Seas ship from Haifa, Israel, to Boston and relocate the Grandeur of the Seas ship from Haifa to Tampa, Florida. Furthermore, Celebrity Cruises, a brand under Royal Caribbean, has taken the step of canceling all scheduled 2024 calls to Israel for its Celebrity Infinity ship.

MSC Cruises has cancel its entire Red Sea program. The MSC Orchestra was scheduled to depart from Genoa on November 8, with stops planned in three Egyptian ports, Jordan, and Saudi Arabian port of Jeddah. Unfortunately, this program, set to repeat until April 17, 2024, has been canceled entirety. Similarly, MSC Sinfonia, which was originally scheduled from November 12, 2023, to April 15, 2024, has been canceled, primarily because the ship's main highlight in its itinerary was Haifa in Israel. Passengers have also been notified of "minor changes" to itineraries for MSC Virtuosa, MSC Opera, and MSC Splendida.

Windstar Cruises redirected its Star Legend ship away from the Middle East due to the ongoing conflict in the region. Christopher Prelog, President of Windstar Cruises, shared that the ship's original schedule for the Middle East has been postponed to commence in November 2024.

Viking Cruises has also made adjustments to its sailings to Israel, emphasizing their commitment to closely monitoring the situation. The company modified the 2023 departures of its Cities of Antiquities & the Holy Land itinerary, replacing calls to Israel. Viking Cruises has stated that the safety and well-being of their guests, crew, and partners on the ground remain their top priority.

Celestyal Cruises, a Greece-based company, has announced the suspension of calls to Israel on its sailings until the end of November. They have temporarily canceled the call into Israel due to circumstances beyond their control, with continuous review and updates to affected customers and agents in the coming days.