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Monday, October 16, 2023

Humanitarian Mission: U.S. Citizens Evacuated from Israel Aboard Rhapsody of the Seas

In a swift response to the ongoing conflict in Israel, a humanitarian mission unfolded as the Royal Caribbean International cruise ship, Rhapsody of the Seas, sailed from the port of Haifa to evacuate U.S. citizens. This blog post covers the details of this remarkable mission to ensure the safe departure of American residents from the conflict-ridden region.

The Evacuation Mission

Early in the morning, the cruise ship arrived at the port of Haifa, specifically to carry out a humanitarian mission. The primary goal was to evacuate U.S. citizens and their immediate family members who wished to leave Israel due to the ongoing conflict. This mission was initiated by the U.S. Embassy in Israel and was subject to available space on the ship.

Boarding and Departure

The U.S. Embassy in Israel communicated the essential details of this mission. Boarding began at 8:00 AM local time, and U.S. citizens were urged to arrive at the Haifa port passenger terminal no later than 9:00 AM local time. Boarding proceeded on a first-come, first-served basis, emphasizing the limited availability of space on the ship.

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Travel Considerations

The advisory issued by the U.S. Embassy also highlighted the responsibility of individuals for their travel to the departure point. Travel within Israel was undertaken at one's own risk, with the understanding that plans might change based on the security situation. The U.S. government could not guarantee the safety of those traveling within Israel.

Safe Departure and Onward Journey

Reports from Haifa MyNet confirmed that the ship safely departed the port of Haifa and was en route to Limassol, Cyprus. The journey was expected to take approximately 10-12 hours, during which food and Wi-Fi would be available to passengers. U.S. consular staff were present both on the ship and at Limassol Port in Cyprus to assist and provide information regarding onward travel to the United States. However, passengers were responsible for arranging accommodations and booking their onward flights.

Rhapsody of the Seas: The Vessel

The cruise ship chosen for this crucial mission was Rhapsody of the Seas, operated by Royal Caribbean International. Rhapsody of the Seas boasts a gross tonnage of 78,878 and has a maximum occupancy of 2,435 passengers. Notably, Royal Caribbean had canceled several itineraries aboard this vessel due to the tense situation in Israel. Passengers were provided food and space but it is unclear if they were provided cabins for the 12 hour voyage. 

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Crew Concerns

Amid this noble mission, there were concerns raised by crew members aboard the Rhapsody of the Seas. They expressed unease about their participation in the rescue mission, as they had not been consulted and were apprehensive about their safety. The ship's history in Haifa, which was primarily hosting Israeli guests before the conflict, contributed to these concerns.


The evacuation of U.S. citizens from Israel aboard the Rhapsody of the Seas is a testament to the efforts made to ensure the safety of American residents in challenging times. This mission exemplifies the cooperation between the U.S. government, cruise operators, and consular staff to facilitate the safe departure of those affected by the conflict. While challenges remain, the mission stands as a beacon of hope and support for those in need.


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