Royal Caribbean International has cancelled the next two cruises for Rhapsody of the Seas, both of which were scheduled to set sail from Haifa, Israel. The Monday, October 9 and Friday, October 13 sailings are impacted.
The cancellation is due to the ongoing geopolitical unrest in the region and follows other cruise ships quickly cancelling port visits to Israel to safeguard guests and crew members.
Rhapsody of the Seas Cruises Cancelled
Two complete sailings of the Vision-class Rhapsody of the Seas are now cancelled. Royal Caribbean International has reached out to booked guests with the details of the cancellation and how refunds will be processed.
“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 October 9, 2023 and October 13, 2023 Rhapsody of the Seas sailings,” the notification explained.
The October 9 departure was to have been a 4-night cruise to Greece and Cyprus, while the October 13 sailing was scheduled as a 5-night Greek Isles itinerary.
All guests will receive a 100% refund of their cruise fare, taxes, and fees, as well as all pre-paid packages, gratuities, shore excursions, and other amenities. Any airfare purchased through Royal Caribbean as well as Royal Caribbean Travel Protection will also be fully refunded.
Refunds will be processed through the cruise line within 14 business days, but when refunds will appear in guests’ accounts may vary based on their individual financial institutions policies and processing time.
If guests used a future cruise credit (FCC) to pay for the now-cancelled cruise, the original statement will be reinstated and new funds above the certificate amount will be refunded.
Guests who made independent arrangements for flights or other transportation, as well as independent shore tours during the cruise, should contact those representatives or operators for options.
“Thank you for your cooperation and understanding. And again, we apologize for this cancellation and any inconvenience caused by this,” the notification concludes.
At the moment, Rhapsody of the Seas is sailing a 5-night Greek Isles cruise that departed Haifa on Wednesday, October 4, 2023, before the violence began. The ship is scheduled to return to Haifa on Monday, October 9, and satellite tracking data shows the vessel on schedule for that arrival.
The 78,878-gross-ton vessel can welcome 1,998 guests aboard based on double occupancy, or as many as 2,416 travelers when fully booked with all berths filled.
Future Sailings Could Be Impacted
At this time, only the October 9 and October 13 departures of Rhapsody of the Seas are cancelled, but the ship is also scheduled to set sail from Haifa on five more dates.
October 18, 23, and 27, as well as November 1, are all roundtrip sailings, and the Monday, November 6, 2023 departure is one-way cruise to Barcelona ahead of the ship’s transatlantic cruise to reposition to the Caribbean.
It is not yet known whether further departures may be cancelled, but guests booked on any upcoming sailings departing Haifa will want to stay in close contact with Royal Caribbean International in case of adjustments.
Haifa, Israel is a coastal port town located just 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of Tel Aviv. The bulk of the recent and ongoing violence has been in Tel Aviv, though stray fighting and other disturbances can extend far from the most dangerous areas.
Other cruises with ports of call in the region, including the current sailings of Celebrity Apex and Odyssey of the Seas, have adjusted their itineraries to avoid destinations in Israel for the time being. This is a common response when regional violence could impact the safety of cruise ships’ guests and crew members.