Major Cruise Line Halts Israel Departures and Visits

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MSC Cruises has adjusted sailings with homeports or port of call visits in Israel to suspend those operations due to the current uncertain situation and the state of emergency in the country.

Guests are being permitted full refunds as necessary and other arrangements are being made to bring travelers home to Israel if that is their homeport.

MSC Cruises Cancelled From Israel

Several sailings of MSC Musica and MSC Sinfonia have been cancelled due to the current situation in Israel. At the current time, all Haifa homeport departures until October 26, 2023 are cancelled.

The 92,409-gross-ton, Musica-class MSC Musica was to have been sailing 7-night Mediterranean cruises on the impacted dates, with port visits to Athens, Santorini, Limassol, Mykonos, and Ephesus.

The impacted cruises aboard the 65,542-gross-ton, Lirica-class MSC Sinfonia were to have likewise been Mediterranean sailings, but longer sailings including visits to destinations in Greece, Italy, Cyprus, and Sicily.

Booked guests are being contacted individually with further details and refunds will be processed within 60 days. The cruise line is urging patience as refunds and credits are processed, as the situation continues to be fluid.

MSC Musica Cruise Ship
MSC Musica Cruise Ship (Photo Credit: Deman)

Furthermore, the cruise line is permitting any guests to cancel select sailings as necessary for security purposes.

“Following the state of emergency in Israel, MSC Cruises strengthens the hands of the Israeli people and stands by them in these difficult moments,” a statement on the cruise line’s website reads. “In order to make it easier for you in these tense days, we [will] allow those of you whose security situation does not allow them to go on a cruise to cancel the cruise free of charge.”

At the moment, this gesture is only applicable to sailings with departure dates from October 8-15, 2023, but it may be extended in the coming days.

“In these tense days we wish all of us an early return to routine as possible,” the statement concludes.

MSC Cruises’ cancellation of Israel-related sailings follows similar actions by luxury line Celestyal Cruises, multiple itinerary changes for Celebrity Apex, Royal Caribbean International cancelling two sailings for Rhapsody of the Seas, and other adjustments.

Current Voyage Not Returning to Haifa

It must be noted that MSC Musica is currently sailing and will not be returning to Haifa to debark guests as planned. The planned call to Ephesus, Turkey on Wednesday, October 10 was also cancelled.

Instead, the 40,876-gross-ton ship will debark Israeli passengers in Limassol, Cyprus on Tuesday to return them to Haifa via private charter aboard the Israeli-owned Crown Iris of Mano Cruises, part of the Mano Maritime shipping company.

MSC Musica Cruise Ship
Photo Credit: Viktoria Prusakova / Shutterstock

Guests will be accommodated aboard Crown Iris in various available staterooms and meals will be provided. The ship is expected to arrive in Haifa at approximately 9 a.m. on Wednesday, October 11. All impacted guests will also receive a future compensation voucher, though the terms are yet to be determined.

Crown Iris has a lengthy history, having been constructed for the now-defunct Majesty Cruise Line in 1992 but moving to Norwegian Cruise Line in 1997 as Norwegian Majesty when the two cruise lines merged. The ship has also sailed with Louis Cruises, Thomson Cruises, and Celestyal Cruises, before joining Mano Maritime in 2018.

Crown Iris can accommodate a maximum of 1,256 guests – compared to the 2,550 MSC Musica can welcome – but it is not known how many travelers aboard MSC Musica are Israeli citizens that now need transport to return to Haifa.

No announcement has been made about how passengers aboard MSC Musica will be repatriated to their home countries if they are not Israeli citizens, but flights from Cyprus are likely to be arranged as needed.

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