Lebanese Ship Transports Americans From Battle Zones
Cruise Critic contributor Doug Newman weighs in with an update on a cruise-related matter surrounding the tragic situation between Israel and Lebanon:
"Press reports indicate that Orient Queen left Beirut today with approximately 1,000 U.S. citizens onboard. If this figure is correct, it is more than her number of berths; however, as this is not an overnight voyage, it would be possible to fill the ship to her maximum legal capacity irrespective of how many cabins and berths there are. She will transport these evacuees to Cyprus, about an eight-hour voyage from Beirut. She will then return to Beirut and continue to assist in evacuating Americans. According to the U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon, the evacuation effort will continue until all Americans who wish to leave Lebanon have been evacuated.
"Reports also indicate that the US Government has chartered a second passenger vessel to assist in the evacuation. This vessel is reported to be the Saudi ferry Rahmah. She was originally built in 1979 as the the cargo ro-ro (roll-on roll-off) ferry Staffetta Maditerranea for the Italian state-owned shipping company Tirrenia and was converted by Tirrenia to the passenger ferry Torres in 1987. She was sold in 2004 to the Turkish company Sancak Lines and renamed Istanbul S (later Sancak S). She was used in service between Cesme, Turkey, and Brindisi, Italy. She was sold earlier this year to Saudi-based Namma Shipping Company and renamed Rahmah. She measures 18,702 tons and several Web sites list her as being able to carry 1,200 passengers.
"Reports also indicate that passenger ships are being chartered by other countries' governments to evacuate their citizens. The French and Norwegian Governments are reported to have jointly chartered the Greek Lane Lines ferry Ierapetra L and Louis Cruise Lines' Cypriot-based cruise ship Serenade has reportedly been chartered by the Australian Government to evacuate their citizens."