Cruise ship evacuates US citizens from Israel

Royal Caribbean cruise ship Rhapsody Of The Seas (IMO 9116864) has been deployed to evacuate Americans from Israel, taking them to Cyprus. The vessel sailed at the request of the US embassy in Israel.

The Rhapsody of the Seas arrived at Israel’s Haifa Port on Monday morning October 16th before embarking an unknown number of passengers. It then left for Limassol, where it arrived safely early on Tuesday morning.

The US embassy in Israel said that “the US government is assisting US nationals and their immediate family members with a valid travel document to depart Haifa via sea for Cyprus on October 16th 2023”.

Royal Caribbean said that “Royal Caribbean Group is actively supporting the US Department of State in the assisted departure of American citizens”.

Americans began boarding the Rhapsody of the Seas at 08:00 on Monday on a first-come, first-serve basis. The vessel has a maximum capacity of 2,416 passengers.

The Rhapsody of the Seas was scheduled to be operating in the region before its voyages were cancelled due to the Israel-Hamas war.

Meanwhile, the Seajets company of Marios Iliopoulos responded to a request from the Cyprus Ministry of Shipping and Island Policy to aid in the transport of citizens from various countries from Israel to Cyprus. Putative evacuees will travel on high-speed ferry Champion Jet 1 (IMO 9151008) from Haifa to Limassol.

The ship will have a strong escort heading there and heading back.

1997-built, Bahamas-flagged, 78,878 gt Rhapsody Of The Seas is owned by Rhapsody Of The Seas Inc care of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd (RCL) of Miami, Florida, USA. ISM manager is RCL Cruises Ltd of Weybridge, UK. It is entered with Steamship Mutual (Americas Syndicate) on behalf of Rhapsody Of The Seas Inc. As of October 17th the vessel had just arrived at Limassol, Cyprus, and was moored.

1997-built, Cyprus-flagged, 5,007 gt Champion Jet 1 is owned by HSJ High Speed Jet Srv Ltd care of Sea Jets Maritime Co of Piraeus, Greece. ISM manager is Jambo Jet Maritime Co of Piraeus, Greece. It is entered with American Club on behalf of HSJ High Speed jet Srv Ltd. As of October 17th it was moored at Limassol, where it had arrived on October 15th, having left Rhodes, Greece, on October 14th.