Update (10/10/23): MSC Cruises announced that MSC Musica’s October 12 call on Haifa, Israel will be cancelled. As well, planned stops on October 19 and October 26 will also be cancelled and replaced by stops in Rhodes and Marmaris, Turkey.
MSC Sinfonia had a scheduled stop in Haifa on October 16. This will be replaced by a call on Bodrum, Turkey.
“The safety of our guests and crew is always our upmost priority and in an evolving situation such as this we will modify our itineraries as needed,” an MSC spokesperson said.
Cruises are a global business, and that means they have to be nimble around worldwide issues from weather to war. While we’ve seen a number of itineraries adjusted due to hurricanes and tropical systems this year, an outbreak of fighting in the Middle East is now causing cancellations to cruises and other changes.
Specifically, a major attack in Israel during the weekend has led to disturbing reports of kidnapping, bombardment, hundreds killed, and thousands wounded. For an area that is well-known for skirmishes, this instance is considerably more severe.
As a result, a number of cruises have quickly been adjusted in order to keep passengers and crew safe.
First, Royal Caribbean has announced cancellations for Rhapsody of the Seas. The ship currently homeports in Haifa, Israel, sailing four and five-day cruises to Greece. According to a travel alert posted on the cruise line website, the October 9 and October 13 sailings from Haifa are canceled.
“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.
“We know how much time and effort go into planning your cruise, and we’re truly sorry for this disappointing news.”
Passengers will receive a 100% refund of their cruise fare as well as any pre-purchased items.
Rhapsody of the Seas has sailings scheduled from the port through early November. Sailings beyond those already canceled will require monitoring as they could be canceled as well should the conflict continue.
Beyond that, a number of cruise ships call on Israel. It appears at least for now, those are likely to stay clear of the area.
For example, Celebrity Apex was set to make a call on Haifa today (Sunday, October 8) according to CruiseMapper.com. It now shows Apex as docked in Cyprus.
Other ships set to visit the area in the coming week include:
- Odyssey of the Seas
- Mein Schiff 5
- Norwegian Jade
- MSC Musica
- Seven Seas Voyager
It seems likely that these ships could see adjustments to their itineraries in order to avoid the area while the conflict continues.
This is not the first time that war has led to changes in cruise routes. Following the outbreak of war between Russia and Ukraine, cruise lines canceled stops in Saint Petersburg, Russia, a popular port of call on European cruises. That’s continued to this day.
In other words, this could be just the start of changes if fighting continues.
If you have an upcoming cruise with a stop in the region, your cruise line will be in touch about any itinerary updates to your trip.