The cruise industry is one of those most severely affected by Covid19, which led to an almost complete halt to cruises. Now, the arrival of three passenger ships at the port of Ashdod constitutes a first and encouraging indication of a return to routine and the industry's recovery.
The first passenger ship to arrive was the Norwegian Jade, which arrived from Greece with about 1,500 passengers on board. The ship , which is 294 meters long and has a maximum width of 38 meters, carries a crew of 1,037 crew members. Passengers can enjoy nightclubs, award-winning restaurants with over 16 different culinary styles, swimming pools, an innovative spa, and even a casino.
Next came the Insignia, which is considered to be one of the most prestigious ships in the world and offers an "Around the World in 180 days" cruise. The ship, which docked at 6 a.m., arrived from Miami with 300 passengers on board. The ship's operators, Oceania Cruises, said that the tickets for this cruise sold out in a record time of 30 minutes. The ship is 180 meters long and has a maximum width of 25 meters and a crew of some 400. This exclusive ship includes a variety of unique complexes that offer an intense cultural experience including musical performances and live lectures by cultural figures, opinion leaders, former ambassadors, and other noteworthy people.
The third ship, the Viking Star, with 850 passengers, docked the following day. The ship has a unique Italian design and is 227 meters long with a maximum width of 29 meters. The Viking Star is known for its many on-board entertainment options, including a cinema, gym and sports areas, and even a Scandinavian-style spa. Passengers are also offered an enriching cultural experience in the form of lectures and performances that they can enjoy throughout their stay.
After entering Israel, the passengers went through passport control and had a PCR test. Only those with a negative result were able to disembark to enjoy tours around the country. “Holiday Travel" won the tender to operate the shore tours, which included daily organized trips to various destinations in Israel, such as Jerusalem and the Dead Sea.
Shiko Janna, CEO of the Port of Ashdod, said: "We are delighted and excited about the return of maritime tourism to Israel, after a break of more than two years forced on us by the Covid19 pandemic. We strive continuously to make the port more competitive and effective in all areas of operation, including tourism and welcome additional cruise ships to enjoy our beautiful country. We are at the start of the holiday season, and now, more than ever, we are working to strengthen and promote maritime tourism in Israel, and for a return to routine and a flourishing tourist market. All this, while strictly adhering to strict procedures at the port and Ministry of Health regulations."