(10 a.m. EDT) -- Due to the current conflict in Israel, Royal Caribbean has been forced to cancel the entire season of its newest ship there, Odyssey of the Seas.
The line's latest Quantum Ultra-class ship arrived in Haifa last month and was due to start passenger sailings June 2 for vaccinated Israelis only, and spend a season in Israel -- a first for the country and testament to Israel being one of the most vaccinated countries on earth.
Plans have changed, though, because of the conflict between Israel and Hamas. The 4,180-passenger ship will instead head to Florida in the hope that cruising will restart from the US this summer.
"This change, while understandably very disappointing for the Israeli holidaymakers who we looked forward to welcoming on board, reflects our strong commitment to offering holidays that are as safe as they are memorable. We hope to continue seeing our Israeli guests on other ships in the region and around the world," Royal Caribbean President and CEO Michael Bayley said.
"Our guests, crew and the communities we visit will always be our top priorities. This was a challenging decision to make, but we must remain nimble in the current environment."
"Due to the unrest in Israel and the region, Odyssey has not been able to complete the preparations required to operate from Haifa, Israel as planned," the cruise line said in a statement. "Given this and the uncertainty of when things will return to normal, the industry’s newest ship will now spend its inaugural season in Florida.”
Royal Caribbean said it hopes to return to Israel in the future.
Details on Odyssey's new cruises from the U.S. were not announced. Originally, the ship was to make its U.S. debut on sailings from Fort Lauderdale beginning in November, the six- and eight-night Caribbean cruises scheduled to visit Curacao, Aruba, Grand Cayman and Mexico.
Royal Caribbean took delivery of Odyssey of the Seas on March 31, in an online handover ceremony with Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany. The ship had been scheduled to debut in November 2020, but was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The ship had been scheduled to be Royal’s second to return to service since the pandemic shutdown in March 2020. The first ship to return, Quantum of the Seas, has been sailing from Singapore since December 2020.
Other cruise lines are also supposed to visit Israel this summer, including Royal Caribbean Group-owned Silversea in June. Cruise Critic is reaching out for comment.