In a somewhat surprising announcement, Royal Caribbean revealed today that its newest ship, Odyssey of the Seas, will offer cruises in Israel starting in May. Previously, this ship was slated to sail in Europe this summer. Royal Caribbean canceled the European cruises and replaced the itineraries with sailings from Haifa, Israel.
Odyssey of the Seas will sail three to seven night cruises to Cyprus and the Greek Isles. Cruises go on sale starting March 9, 2021. Only residents of Israel will be allowed on these cruises. All passengers ages 16 and up must be fully vaccinated from Covid19.
“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. 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,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Israel prides itself on its early and aggressive vaccine rollout, with over 84% of its elderly population fully vaccinated by February. So it’s not too shocking that the cruise line would pick Israel as an early cruise target. Of course, this announcement begs the question if Royal Caribbean and other cruise lines will require the vaccine from U.S. passengers when cruising eventually resumes here.
Odyssey of the Seas
Odyssey of the Seas is a Quantum Ultra-classs ship and a sister ship to Anthem of the Seas, which I experienced in 2019 on a cruise to Bermuda. It features the signature Flow Rider, Sky Pad, RipCord by iFLY and rock climbing wall. The ship offers the North Star observatory as well as the indoor Sea Plex with bumper cars, roller skating and more. The capacity is 4905 passengers.
Odyssey of the Seas is scheduled to start U.S. sailings from Port Everglades in November 2021.
Are you surprised by this change of plans? How do you think U.S. cruisers would react to a vaccination requirement?
Nancy lives near Dallas, Texas, with her husband and three kids. Her favorite vacations include the beach, cruising and everything Disney.