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Thursday, October 12, 2023

MSC Cruises Safely Brings 800 Israeli Citizens Home

MSC Cruises recently demonstrated its commitment to passenger safety and well-being by successfully repatriating 800 Israeli citizens who were aboard the MSC Musica cruise ship. This repatriation mission was undertaken amidst challenging circumstances and security concerns in the region. Here's the remarkable story of how MSC Cruises ensured the safe return of these passengers to their homeland.

**Cruise Guests Arrive Home on Chartered Ship**

The journey was initially intended to be a 7-night roundtrip Mediterranean cruise, departing from Haifa, Israel, with stops in Limassol, Cyprus; Mykonos, Athens, Santorini in Greece, and Ephesus, Turkey, before returning to Haifa on Thursday, October 12. However, on the morning of Saturday, October 7, Israel was hit by missile attacks, throwing the cruise itinerary into disarray.

In response to the evolving security situation, MSC Musica made the difficult decision to alter its voyage, cutting short its itinerary and bypassing multiple ports. The cruise line took extraordinary measures, chartered the Mano Cruises ship Crown Iris, a smaller vessel, to safely transfer 800 Israeli passengers from MSC Musica to return them to Haifa.

**A Complex Repatriation Operation**

MSC Cruises launched a complex and swift operation to return its passengers safely. The operation was entirely financed by MSC Cruises, underlining the company's dedication to ensuring the well-being of its guests. By 9 a.m. on Wednesday, October 11, all Israeli passengers were safely back in Haifa, reuniting with their families and loved ones during these distressing times.

“We thank the Mano Shipping company for joining in a short time to assist in this operation,” expressed MSC Cruises.

While it remains unclear why MSC Musica couldn't return to Haifa herself, it's possible that logistical challenges, port operations, or other factors influenced this decision.

**October Cruises Diverted From Israel**

In addition to the adjustments and cancellations already announced for MSC Musica and MSC Sinfonia, MSC Cruises made the tough decision to divert all sailings scheduled to visit Haifa in October 2023 to alternative ports of call. The fate of cruises in November and beyond is still uncertain.

Eyal Atias, General Manager from MSC Cruises Israel, shared, “We are closely monitoring the situation and hope to resume sailings to Israel as soon as possible. MSC Cruises stands by the State of Israel in its difficult time and wishes for quieter days.”

**Other Cruise Lines Respond**

MSC Cruises was not the only cruise line to adapt to the challenging situation. Royal Caribbean diverted Odyssey of the Seas to different ports of call, and Rhapsody of the Seas had to cancel three sailings. Celebrity Cruises adjusted Celebrity Apex itineraries to avoid Israel on multiple occasions, and Celestyal Cruises took the longest-term step by canceling all calls in Israel through November 2023.

While no cruise lines have made long-term cancellations regarding sailing to or homeporting from Israel, the situation is being closely monitored. Further adjustments may be necessary as the situation continues to develop.

In this challenging time, the commitment of MSC Cruises and other cruise lines to passenger safety and their proactive efforts in responding to evolving circumstances is a testament to the industry's dedication to ensuring the well-being of their guests. It is a reassuring reminder that safety remains a top priority in the world of travel.


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