In just a week, the conversation has shifted from, “Should Americans still go to Israel?” to “How can we get Americans out of Israel?” Royal Caribbean Group is part of the answer.
The U.S. government is organizing a large-scale evacuation of American citizens from Israel as the Oct. 7 massacres conducted by the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas has triggered a full-scale military mobilization in the Jewish state.
On Oct. 17, several hundred Americans boarded the Royal Caribbean cruise ship Rhapsody of the Seas in Haifa, bound for Cyprus on a trip chartered by the U.S. government.
Americans seeking to flee Israel were invited aboard on a first-come, first-served basis. Approximately 150 Americans departed Israel on the cruise ship, which has a capacity of more than 2,500.
A number of U.S. airlines suspended flights to Israel in the wake of the terrorist attacks, including Delta Air Lines, American Airlines and United Airlines. That has restricted the ability of U.S. citizens to leave the country, although other airlines, including British Airways and El Al, continue to fly to and from Tel Aviv.
Charter Flights Out of Israel
The U.S. government also has been organizing charter flights for Americans to get out of Israel. The flights, which depart out of Ben Gurion International Airport and are bound for Cyprus, Athens and other destinations, will continue through at least Oct. 19, according to the U.S. State Department. More than 5,000 seats have been made available to evacuees.
Evacuees must be U.S. nationals or an immediate family member of a U.S. national and have a valid passport. Family members who are not U.S. citizens must be eligible for entry to the destination. Each traveler is allowed one carry-on bag and one checked bag. Pets are not allowed.
Whether they travel by cruise ship or plane, evacuees also must promise to repay the U.S. government for the cost of the trip.
Some other charter flights also have been organized to evacuate Americans from Israel. In Florida, the emergency rescue group Project DYNAMO organized an El Al charter flight to evacuate 270 state residents from Israel. The flight to Tampa International Airport was paid for by the Florida Department of Emergency Management under an executive order issued by Gov. Ron DeSantis.