Ports hampered by pandemic without cruises
Cruises have been cancelled since last march, resulting in over 100,000 Americans losing their jobs per a November report. Florida has been especially hard hit with the state being home to the three busiest cruise ports in the world.
Royal Caribbean is testing the waters of the new era of cruising.
One of the world’s largest cruise operators is planning to launch the first “fully vaccinated” cruise amid the global pandemic, when the Odyssey of the Seas makes its maiden voyage from Israel in May.
Royal Caribbean announced the cruise, its first-ever from Israel, on Monday, with the brand-new Odyssey set to sail from Haifa for three to seven-night tours of the Greek Isles and Cyprus later this spring. Bookings open on March 9, and are only available to residents of Israel during this time.
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“In conjunction with Israel’s health and tourism authorities, Royal Caribbean will be the first to offer fully vaccinated sailings, where both crew and guests above the age of 16 will be vaccinated against COVID-19,” Royal Caribbean said in a news release announcing the cruise. “Details on the additional health and safety measures to be implemented by Israel and Royal Caribbean will be announced at a later date.”
The cruise line did not disclose whether or not kids and teens under the age of 16 would be welcomed aboard, or the exact dates for when the Odyssey will sail in May.
The Odyssey of the Seas, pictured, will deoart from Israel in May as the first "fully vaccinated" cruise amid the global pandemic, Royal Caribbean says.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu heralded the announcement for the revitalization of tourism in his country.
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“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,” Netanyahu said in a statement. “This is an important economic, touristic moment for the State of Israel.”
“Israel is a global model of success,” he continued. “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.”
"Details on the additional health and safety measures to be implemented by Israel and Royal Caribbean will be announced at a later date," the cruise line said.
The Associated Press reports that Israel has vaccinated over half of its population against COVID-19 in one of the world’s “most successful vaccination drives” since late December.
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On Feb. 21, Israel released an inaugural “green pass” program through a mobile app, The Guardian reports. The app allows people who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or have “presumed immunity” after contracting the viral disease to show proof of such, and enter gyms, hotels, swimming pools, places of worship and concerts. Indoor dining in restaurants and bars are also slated to debut on the app in early March.
Israel recently finalized agreements with Greece and Cyprus to recognize each other’s green badges in a bid to boost tourism, per the AP, making leisure travel like Royal Caribbean’s upcoming Odyssey sailings possible.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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