Following the recent cancellation of two Haifa, Israel departures for Rhapsody of the Seas, Royal Caribbean International has opted to cancel an additional sailing as the ongoing tensions in the region show no sign of relaxing.
The October 18, 2023 departure is now cancelled, and impacted guests are being contacted with further details.
Rhapsody of the Seas Cruise Cancelled
Royal Caribbean International has announced that the Wednesday, October 18, 2023 departure for Rhapsody of the Seas is now completely cancelled. Just days ago, the cruise line initially cancelled the October 9 and October 13 sailings as violence broke out in the region.
The October 18 cruise was to have been a 5-night Greek Islands cruise, roundtrip from Haifa, Israel and calling on Limassol, Cyprus and both Rhodes and Santorini in Greece before returning to Haifa on Monday, October 23.
“We know how much time and effort go into planning your cruise, and we’re truly sorry for this disappointing news,” the notification from Royal Caribbean read.
All guests will be receiving a 100% refund of their cruise fare, taxes, and fees. Furthermore, all pre-paid packages and amenities such as gratuities, beverage packages, shore tours, spa treatments, and onboard gifts will also be fully refunded, as will any flights booked through Royal Caribbean as well as Royal Caribbean Travel Protection.
Refunds will be processed back to the original form of payment within 14 business days, but guests should note that some financial institutions may take longer to make those returned funds available.
If guests used a future cruise credit (FCC) to pay for the cruise, any new funds above that credit amount will be refunded, and the original FCC will be reinstated for use.
Travelers who have made independent flight, hotel, tour, or other arrangements will need to contact their travel agent or individual tour operators or service providers for cancellation and refund options, if applicable.
Will Future Cruises Be Cancelled?
The 78,878-gross-ton, Vision-class Rhapsody of the Seas is currently homeported from Haifa, Israel, but only has a few sailings left in the season before repositioning. Still intact are the ship’s October 23 and 27 departures, as well as the November 1 departure. Each of those cruises is a roundtrip voyage from Haifa.
On Monday, November 6, 2023, the ship is scheduled to depart Haifa with a one-way voyage to Barcelona, visiting Santorini and Palm de Mallorca along the way. From Barcelona, Rhapsody of the Seas is set for a 14-night transatlantic cruise to Fort Lauderdale departing November 12, visiting ports in Spain, the Canary Islands, and the Bahamas before arriving in Florida on November 26.
From Fort Lauderdale, the ship will offer a single short Bahamas cruise before relocating to Colon, Panama, where she will remain homeported for the winter, offering Southern Caribbean sailings.
It is possible that the remaining cruises from Israel may yet be cancelled, depending on how the ongoing violence progresses in the coming days. Guests booked on those upcoming sailings should stay in close contact with their travel agent or Royal Caribbean directly to ensure they receive updates and notifications.
Other Cruise Lines Cancelling as Well
In addition to the cancellations for Rhapsody of the Seas, Royal Caribbean has also adjusted the itinerary for Odyssey of the Seas to avoid Israel.
Several other cruise lines have cancelled either port visits to Israel or cruises departing from the nation for the time being. MSC Cruises has cancelled several sailings and visits by MSC Musica and MSC Sinfonia, and Celebrity Cruises has adjusted two itineraries for Celebrity Apex to avoid port visits in both Israel and Egypt.
Likewise, luxury line Celestyal Cruises has removed all calls in Israel through the end of November. For now, any cruise travelers with visits planned for Israel in the next few weeks and months should stay alert for itinerary changes and adjustments.