Israel Update: Will Cruise Lines Still Visit?

June 10, 2010

What's the conflict?

(June 10, 1 p.m. EDT) -- Concerns over travel to Israel remain heightened after an incident earlier this month in which Israeli forces stormed an aid flotilla that was trying to reach Gaza. Nine people were killed as a result.

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 this is a general warning issued in 2009 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.

What ports and ships could be affected?

Haifa -- Oceania's Nautica on June 12 and Princess Cruises' Pacific Princess on June 26

Ashdod -- Nautica on July 11, Costa Cruises' Costa Mediterranea on June 24 and Pacific Princess on June 27

What should I do?

So far, spokespersons for all three lines tell us their ships are expected to call in Israel as planned. (Earlier in the month, Azamara and Princess ships skipped Ashdod calls, but did call on Haifa.)

We'll keep you posted as we find out more. In the meantime, take a peek at our Roll Call forums to discuss this issue with others on your sailing.

--updated by Melissa Paloti, Managing Editor

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