Update, 6 a.m. EDT: Louis Cruises' Cristal will call in Ashdod as planned today, according to a company spokesperson. Yesterday, Azamara Club Cruises told us that Azamara Quest didn't call in Ashdod as planned on Sunday. Instead, the ship remained in Haifa overnight. We'll keep you posted.
What's the conflict?
(June 1, 1:15 p.m. EDT) -- This weekend, Israeli forces stormed an aid flotilla that was trying to reach Gaza on Monday. Nine people were killed as a result. According to the BBC, the incident took place some 40 miles out to sea, in international waters. There have been global protests following the struggle.
Both the U.K.'s Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the U.S. Department of State warn citizens against traveling to Israel (not to mention Gaza.) The U.S. warning says that "The Department of State urges U.S. citizens to remain mindful of security factors when planning travel to Israel and the West Bank and to avoid all travel to the Gaza Strip." But as this warning was issued in 2009, it's a general warning and is not related to the most recent turn of events.
What's the impact?
Israel's biggest and busiest cruise port, Haifa, and Jerusalem gateway Ashdod are both popular ports of call for cruise ships on Eastern Mediterranean cruises. Many cruisers will take shore tours to visit religious sites such as Nazareth and Bethlehem.
Cruises don't, of course, go anywhere near Gaza.
Princess is the first cruise line to cancel a port call. Pacific Princess did make its planned visit to Haifa today but will skip its scheduled call at Ashdod tomorrow.
At this time, Regent Seven Seas, Oceania, Azamara and Louis Cruise Lines, which all have ships in the region, have not made any changes.
What ports and ships could be affected?
Haifa, Israel -- Regent Seven Seas' Seven Seas Mariner (June 5), Oceania's Nautica (June 12)
Ashdod, Israel -- Seven Seas Mariner (June 6), Azamara Quest (June 6), Louis Cruises Cristal (June 8), Oceania Nautica (June 11)
What should I do?
We'll keep you posted as we find out more. In the meantime, you may want to take a peek at our Roll Call forums to discuss this issue with others on your sailing.
--by Sue Bryant, Cruise Critic Contributing Editor and Carolyn Spencer Brown, Editor in Chief
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Update: Another Cruise Ship Cancels Israel Call
June 8, 2010