November 29, 2012
(9:00 a.m. EST) -- Another cruise line has altered an itinerary because of ongoing violence affecting parts of Israel and the Gaza Strip.
Celebrity Cruises has made the decision to change Celebrity Silhouette's itinerary. The ship will no longer call at Ashdod (the port for Jerusalem), on Thursday, 22 November or Haifa, on Saturday 24 November. Instead, the line said, the ship will now call in Istanbul, Turkey, at 1:00 p.m. on Friday, 23 November, and stay overnight until 8:00 p.m. on Saturday, 24 November. Silhouette is on a 14-night sailing out of Rome.
Costa Cruises earlier changed Costa Pacifica's scheduled calls in Israel -- Ashdod on 21 November and Haifa on 22 November -- and substituted stops in Santorini and Rhodes in Greece, and Istanbul and Izmir in Turkey. Pacifica is on an 11-night sailing out of Rome.
Oceania Cruises also canceled Nautica's calls on Ashdod and Haifa, Israel -- both overnights -- set for 19-20 and 20-21 November, respectively. Instead, the ship will now call on Athens, Mykonos, and Rhodes in Greece and Limassol, Cyprus. Nautica is on its way to Dubai via the Suez Canal, Egypt, and the Red Sea.
Last week, Norwegian Cruise Line made a change to Norwegian Jade's sailing last week, pulling the scheduled stop in Ashdod, and instead keeping the ship in port in Haifa on Friday (16 November) for an extra day.
The British Foreign Commonwealth Office issued a warning advising travelers to avoid going within 40 km (25 miles) of the Gaza Strip because of cross-border "military exchanges." The area within the 40 km perimeter includes Ashdod, the port for Jerusalem.
The FCO statement explained: “On 14 November the Israel Defence Force announced a military Operation against Gazan militants.
“A significant number of rockets have been fired from Gaza landing in cities in Southern Israel, including Ashdod and Be'er Sheva. Due to a continued risk of indiscriminate rocket fire from armed groups within Gaza, we advise against all but essential travel to areas within 40km of the Gaza perimeter ... There is a high risk of continued military exchanges in and around Gaza.”
The U.S. State Department has not updated its international travel warnings on Israel, the West Bank and Gaza since August 10, though they do advise against all travel to the Gaza Strip.
Other lines with calls in the region, including Cunard, have said they are closely monitoring events, but have yet to make itinerary changes.
--by Dori Saltzman, News Editor and Jamey Bergman, U.K. Production Editor