Update: Cruise Line Cancels All Calls in Israel After Rocket Shrapnel Lands on Ship

July 11, 2014

(Update: 8:15 a.m. EDT) -- AIDA Cruises has canceled all port calls in Israel for the remainder of the 2014 cruise season.

AIDA released a statement saying the Israeli port of Ashdod would be replaced with the Greek island of Santorini on all remaining 2014 itineraries. The line said it would inform passengers immediately regarding the change and cited passengers' well being and safety as its top priority.

(6:50 a.m. EDT) -- Shrapnel from rockets fired in the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict landed on the deck of German cruise ship AIDAdiva as it left the Israeli port of Ashdod on Monday night (July 7).

The 2,050-passenger AIDAdiva was leaving port at 8:28 p.m. local time when the explosions occurred. The cruise ship was not a target, and no one was hurt, according to a statement released by AIDA.

"All 2,700 guests and crew members of AIDAdiva are doing well," the statement said.

"There was no damage to the ship. However, small particles that may come from defense missiles, as experts have estimated, were found on the open deck. They do not constitute a danger. They were secured immediately by the crew."

More than 70 rockets were fired into southern Israel from Gaza on Monday night, and many, including those witnessed by AIDA cruisers, were destroyed by Israeli defenses.

The US State Department has a travel warning in place for Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, and Britain's Foreign and Commonwealth Office updated its own travel advisory in response to the rocket attacks. Both governments advise travelers to take extra care when traveling in the West Bank and near Gaza, and to follow local security advice.

The rocket explosions did not delay AIDAdiva's itinerary. The ship continued its seven-night Eastern Mediterranean cruise, and is now on its way to Crete, where it will arrive on Wednesday (July 9), according to the line.

Ashdod, Israel's fifth-largest city, is located south of Tel Aviv and west of Jerusalem and is the largest port in Israel.

Current tensions in the region were sparked by the discovery of the bodies of four murdered teenagers in the West Bank -- three Israeli and one Palestinian.

Israel has today (July 8) responded to rocket attacks with air strikes and a named military offensive, Operation Protective Edge, according to The Guardian website. Hamas said its rocket attacks came in response to the "Zionist aggression," that killed five of its fighters and injured 15 Palestinians, according to media reports.

AIDA Cruises is operated by the Carnival Corporation and caters to German-speaking passengers.

--By Jamey Bergman, UK Production Editor