In a first for Royal Caribbean International as the Rhapsody of the Seas recently started homeport operations in Israel.
As part of its summer program in the Mediterranean, the Vision-Class vessel is now offering a series of cruises from the Port of Haifa.
Extending through late October, the schedule includes three- to eight-night itineraries visiting the Greek Islands, Israel and Cyprus.
The cruises are highlighted by late departures from Piraeus and Santorini.
Other ports of call being visited by the 2,000-guest ship during the season include Mykonos, Rhodes, Limassol and Ashdod.
Before returning to the Caribbean in November, the Rhapsody also offers an eight-night repositioning cruise departing from Haifa. Sailing to Barcelona, the voyage includes visits to five ports of call in Greece, Italy, France and Spain.
The 1997-built vessel is set to return for a second season in the region in 2023.
With two- to eight-night cruises, the program will extend from late August to early November and also includes itineraries to Greece, Cyprus and Israel.
Before arriving in Haifa for its homeporting season, the Rhapsody is visiting Israel on transit calls as well.
Based in Limassol from May to July, the vessel will visit both Haifa and Ashdod on a regular basis. The arrivals are part of itineraries that also include stops in Egypt, Turkey and Greece.
Royal Caribbean originally planned to launch homeport operations in Israel in 2021. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the company announced plans to base the new Odyssey of the Seas in Haifa for the summer season.
A few weeks before the start of the operation, however, the entire season ended up cancelled.
Citing ongoing conflicts in the Middle East, Royal Caribbean redeployed the ship to Florida – where it launched service in July 2021.