As the tensions in Israel continue, Royal Caribbean International has elected to fully cancel the remainder of the season for Rhapsody of the Seas, which is currently homeported from Haifa, Israel. A total of seven sailings are impacted, and booked guests will be receiving refunds for their now-cancelled cruises.
Sailings Cancelled for Rhapsody of the Seas
Royal Caribbean International has updated its travel alert regarding Israel, now cancelling a total of seven sailings for the Vision-class Rhapsody of the Seas.
“We’ve been closely monitoring the geopolitical situation in Israel. With your safety and well-being in mind, and in conjunction with our Global Security Department, we’ve decided that we must cancel our upcoming Rhapsody of the Seas 2023 sailings,” the notification reads.
The complete list of impacted departure dates are: October 9, 13, 18, 23, and 27, as well as the November 1 and November 6 sailings.
All but the November 6 sailing were to have been 4- or 5-night roundtrip Greek Isles voyages calling on ports such as Limassol, Rhodes, Ayia Napa, and Santorini, depending on the exact departure date.
The November 6, 2023 cruise is the ship’s one-way departure from Israel to Barcelona, a 6-night sailing visiting Santorini and Palma de Mallorca along the way.
On Sunday, November 12, Rhapsody of the Seas will depart Barcelona on a 14-night, one-way transatlantic cruise to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. From there, the ship will offer one short 3-night Bahamas cruise before moving to offer Southern Caribbean cruises from Colon, Panama and Cartagena, Colombia (with options for departures from both ports).
Refunds to Be Processed
All guests on the now-cancelled cruises from Haifa will receive full, 100% refunds of their cruise fare as well as associated taxes and fees. Any pre-paid, Royal Caribbean add-ons will also be fully refunded, including gratuities, drink or dining packages, shore tours, flights purchased through the cruise line, or Royal Caribbean Travel Protection.
Refunds will be processed back to the payment information on file within 14 business days, but the cruise line does note that some financial institutions may take longer to reinstate funds. This could be especially true for Israel-based banks.
“Thank you for your cooperation and understanding. And again, we apologize for this cancellation and any inconvenience caused by this,” the notification concludes.
If guests have made independent arrangements with tour operators, airlines, or other services, they will need to contact those providers separately to arrange for refunds or to investigate other options as available.
If travelers had used any Royal Caribbean future cruise credit (FCC) to pay for a now-cancelled cruise or related amenities, that original FCC will be reinstated and any additional charges will be refunded as described.
Other Royal Caribbean Ships and Brands Also Making Changes
Royal Caribbean International has also adjusted two sailings on the Quantum-Ultra-class Odyssey of the Seas to avoid Israel, substituting ports in Turkey and Cyprus instead.
Furthermore, Celebrity Apex has also adjusted its current itinerary, a 10-night Israel, Egypt, and Mediterranean sailing, to avoid both Israel and Egypt because of the regional violence. Celebrity Cruises is a sister line to Royal Caribbean International as both are owned by the Royal Caribbean Group, though they are operated independently.
TUI Cruises, another cruise line owned in part by the Royal Caribbean Group, has also cancelled calls to Israel for the next few weeks.
Any guests booked for a cruise visit to Israel in the next few weeks or months will want to stay in close contact with their cruise line – whether or not they are part of the Royal Caribbean Group – for updates on any itinerary changes, port adjustments, or outright cancellations at this troubled time.