A week ago, we reported that the Israeli Ministry of Health has not yet approved Royal Caribbean’s heath and safety protocols regarding the cruise line’s plans to begin sailing from Haifa. This was originally reported in the Israeli newspaper, Israel Hayom.

Royal Caribbean previously announced its intention to begin sailing the Odyssey of the Seas on two and three night cruises from Haifa, Israel to Limassol, Cyprus starting in June. The company is scheduled to begin three and four night cruises to Rhodes and Mykonos, Greece starting in September. Yet, the cruise line has not obtained the necessary approvals from the host country’s health ministry, according to several news stations in Israel.

The local press in Israel (Ynet) reports that the Odyssey has arrived in Haifa to prepare for its first voyage from that port which is expected to depart on June 2nd. According to Royal Caribbean representatives, the ship arrived at the port of Haifa yesterday for the purpose of “equipping” the ship with provisions. The cruise line said that “this will be an opportunity for the crew of the ship and the port of Haifa to get to know each other, since this is the first time that Odyssey of the seas has entered the port of Haifa.” Royal Caribbean did not disclose to the newspaper that the crew is quarantining,  according to crew members on the ship.

Ynet further learned that because the ship’s crew has not yet been vaccinated, one of the goals of the cruise line “is to vaccinate the entire crew . . .  before receiving the passengers.” The newspaper in Israel states “at the same time, the sailing corporation has not yet received approval from the Israeli Ministry of Health and it is not yet clear whether they will succeed in the vaccination mission in time – before the first guests arrive in June.”

As we reported last week, the Israeli Ministry of Health informed several media outlets (Israel Hayom and Channel 12 News TV) that and the chances of approving the shipping company’s health protocols “are very low.” Meanwhile, the cruise line is continuing to market the cruise from Haifa as a certainty.

Another international newspaper, Globes, denies that the crew is being vaccinated in Israel:

“The fact that the ship is setting sail and returning in three weeks time had led to speculation that the crew are being vaccinated in Israel. But the Ministry of Health denies this. ‘The Ministry has not approved the vaccination of the crew and will not vaccinate them.’ For its part Royal Caribbean insists that it will meet all Ministry of Health regulations. Globes has been told that Ministry of Health officials will board the ship to ensure that all regulations are being met.”

If this account is correct, the question remains: are the crew members on the Odyssey fully vaccinated and, if not, when and where will they become vaccinated?

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Photo Credits: Odyssey of the Seas – Royal Caribbean via Israel Hayom; News anchor – Channel 12 News TV.