Cruise Ship

Rhapsody of the Seas

Incident Type

Humanitarian Mission (Evacuation)

Date of Accident

October 16, 2023

Location of Accident

Port Haifa, Israel to Limassol, Cyprus

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On October 16, 2023, Rhapsody of the Seas arrived at Port Haifa, Israel, with a crucial mission amid challenging times. The cruise ship was tasked with evacuating American residents and their families from Israel to the safety of Limassol, Cyprus. This humanitarian operation became necessary due to the ongoing conflict, which had led to the suspension of major US airlines’ flights to and from Tel Aviv.

Details of the Mission
In response to the escalating situation, the US State Department sought the assistance of Rhapsody of the Seas to facilitate the evacuation. The US Embassy in Jerusalem issued guidance, extending the evacuation offer to all US residents in Israel, along with their accompanying family members with valid travel documents. The evacuation voyage, covering approximately 10-12 hours of crossing time, operated on a first-come, first-served basis, based on available onboard space.

Passenger boarding commenced promptly at Port Haifa, with the ship staying at the port for nearly 7 hours to facilitate the evacuation process. Rhapsody of the Seas set sail from Haifa at noon/12:06 UTC on the same day, safely transporting evacuees to Limassol.

Operational Context
This humanitarian mission unfolded against the backdrop of the cancellation of multiple scheduled voyages by Rhapsody of the Seas. Six “Greek Isles Cruise” itineraries, departing roundtrip from Haifa, were canceled due to the ongoing conflict. Royal Caribbean took swift action by providing full refunds for affected bookings, including cruise fares, taxes and fees, pre-paid gratuities, packages and shore excursions, and onboard amenities/services. Additionally, refunds were issued for all flights purchased through Royal Caribbean, ensuring passengers were not financially impacted by the cancellations.

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