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Royal Caribbean to launch cruise from Israel for ‘fully vaccinated’ only

‘Green Island’ cruise latest effort to open up opportunities for the vaccinated and recovered; starting in May, cruises will take travelers to Cyprus and Greece

In this June 20, 2016 file photo, the Royal Caribbean cruise ship Empress of the Seas heads out of Miami Beach, Fla.   (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File)
In this June 20, 2016 file photo, the Royal Caribbean cruise ship Empress of the Seas heads out of Miami Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File)

Royal Caribbean will offer cruises from Israel for fully vaccinated people from May, the company said Monday, in the latest effort by Israel to reopen its economy to those who have had the coronavirus shot.

“In conjunction with Israel’s health and tourism authorities, Royal Caribbean will be the first to offer fully vaccinated sailings, where both crew and guests above the age of 16 will be vaccinated against COVID-19,” the company said.

It was not immediately clear if those under 16 would be allowed on the cruise. The vaccines have so far not been approved for children.

Royal Caribbean CEO Michael Bayley said it would be the first “Green Island at sea,” a reference to Israel’s recently introduced “green pass,” given to those who are vaccinated or recovered, allowing them to access cultural, sport and tourism facilities.

Bayley said it would be the company’s first cruise out of Israel and would employ their latest vessel, the “Odyssey of the Seas.”

Three- to seven-day cruises would depart out of Haifa and take passengers to Cyprus and Greece, which both signed tourism agreements in recent weeks with Israel to allow travel for the vaccinated. Tickets go on sale next week.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a statement with the Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis after their meeting in the Prime Minister’s office in Jerusalem on February 8, 2021. (Menahem KAHANA / POOL / AFP)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed the move.

“Thanks to the millions of vaccines we have brought, I am proud that Israel will be the first country in the world to launch Royal Caribbean’s new flagship,” he said in a statement.

Israeli is a world leader in vaccinations, with more than 4,750,000 people out of its population of 9 million receiving the first dose and some 3.4 million having received both doses.

Some 3 million people were not eligible for vaccines, having been infected with COVID or under 16. However, on Monday Israel said it would begin vaccinating those recovered from the virus too.

“Royal Caribbean’s decision to come to Israel is a significant expression of confidence in our policy. This is an important economic, touristic moment for the State of Israel,” said Netanyahu.

The cruise industry has been particularly hard hit by the coronavirus. Some of the first major outbreaks took place on closely confined cruise ships at the beginning of the pandemic.

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