Royal Caribbean just did something that might surprise you: they made plans to move Odyssey of the Seas to Israel. Royal has never sailed out of Israel before, making this a totally unexpected move on their part. But what is the reasoning behind this decision? Let’s take a closer look.
Fully vaccinated sailings
According to a statement from the company, they moved Odyssey of the Seas to Israel in order to have fully vaccinated sailings. It’s no secret that Israel is ahead of the rest of the world in terms of vaccinations. As of March 1st, about 90% of their population has received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine. That means that a cruise could easily take place that that could be (at least theoretically) completely safe. As per Royal, the sailings aboard the Royal Caribbean will require anyone over the age of 16 on the ship to be vaccinated. That includes the crew.
Odyssey of the Seas was originally going to be sailing from Southampton from April onwards, but it will now begin sailings from Israel in early May. Guests will be able to choose between three-day and seven-day itineraries to the area around Greece. More specifically, the ship will depart from Haifa and will visit Mykonos, Rhodes, Limassol, Athens, and Santorini before heading back to Israel.
A vaccine-focused future for Royal?
Royal Caribbean transferring Odyssey of the Seas to Israel makes a lot of sense. There is a huge untapped market of travelers there, and it is a much safer move to capitalize on that rather than just hoping that cruising from Europe will be allowed come April. However, it does beg the question: does this mean that Royal will be requiring vaccines on the rest of their ships? As of now, we don’t have a firm answer. Royal Caribbean Group has said that they will require their staff members to be vaccinated, but they have yet to state whether guests will be held to the same expectation. We imagine that these Israeli cruises will act like a bit of a test run. If they go off without a hitch, Royal might consider imposing similar vaccine restrictions on their ships around the world.
Regardless of what this means for the rest of Royal’s fleet, the company seems excited about the opportunity to bring tourism back to Israel. They said in a statement, “Sailing from Israel is an opportunity we have had our sights on for quite some time. We greatly appreciate the government of Israel for their collaboration and confidence in us to deliver memorable cruise experiences to their residents.” It seems like a smart move to us.