Royal Caribbean ship Rhapsody of the Seas has evacuated Americans left stranded in Israel when flights out of the country were grounded.
At the request of the US Department of State, the ship – which has the capacity for more than 2,400 passengers – took an unspecified number of US citizens to safety in Cyprus. It is currently docked in Limassol.
The cruise line had previously cancelled two short passenger cruises from Israel after terror attacks on the country by Hamas on 7 October. At least 30 Americans were among the hundreds killed in the attacks, and several are among the nearly 200 people kidnapped.
In a letter to staff, Royal Caribbean Group CEO Jason Liberty said: “With enhanced safety precautions in place, our ship is providing free passage, including accommodation and food, for Americans in the region wishing to leave and find safer ground.
“This has truly been an incredible effort as our teams worked tirelessly over the past week to make this mission possible.
“My heartfelt gratitude goes out to all involved and especially to the ship’s officers and crew for their unwavering support of this call to serve others in the midst of unimaginable tragedy.”
“It is in challenging times like these that the phenomenal spirit and values of our collective Royal Caribbean Group team shines.”
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak confirmed yesterday that at least six Britons had died in that attacks on Israel, and a further 10 are missing.
The UK Government has laid on six charter flights to repatriate British citizens and their dependents, with more planned this week.
The Foreign Office is advising against non-essential travel to Israel and UK scheduled airlines have suspended commercial flights, but Virgin Atlantic said earlier this week that it would resume one service a day on Friday 20 October.