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The cruises will feature stops in Mediterranean destinations like Rhodes, Santorini, and Mykonos.

By Alison Fox
March 02, 2021
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Royal Caribbean will set sail out of Israel for the first time this spring, and every passenger and crew member will be vaccinated.

Starting in May, with three to seven-night journeys to the Greek Isles and Cyprus on its new Odyssey of the Seas, the cruise will leave from a port in Haifa for the first time ever, the cruise line said in a statement. Guests 16 years old and older on the sailings, along with all crew, will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

The cruises will feature stops in Mediterranean destinations like Rhodes, Santorini, and Mykonos.

"Israeli travelers will be looking to get away, relax with total peace of mind, and enjoy the travel experiences they are missing dearly; and that is what we do best," President and CEO of Royal Caribbean International, Michael Bayley, said in a statement. "Sailing from Israel is an opportunity we have had our sights on for quite some time."

Royal Caribbean Odyssey of the Seas
Credit: Courtesy of Royal Caribbean

The new sailings, which will be open to residents of Israel, go on sale on March 9.

"Royal Caribbean's decision to come to Israel is a significant expression of confidence in our policy. This is an important economic, touristic moment for the State of Israel," the country's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement, adding, "We will continue our program – the 'green passport' – so that we can get out of the COVID-19 virus in peace. Just as we made Israel the world champion in vaccines, we will make it the world champion in economics and tourism in the post-Corona era."

These sailings will be the first itineraries to feature a fully-vaccinated ship, but Royal Caribbean isn't alone in planning to do so. Crystal Cruises, the American Queen Steamboat Company, Victory Cruise Lines, and Saga Cruises have all said they will require guests to be vaccinated when they resume sailing.

Beyond Israel, Royal Caribbean said it would aim to have all crew vaccinated going forward but hasn't committed to mandating the same for guests elsewhere.

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.