Royal Caribbean plans first fully vaccinated cruises from Israel

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Saturday, March 6, 2021
Royal Caribbean plans first fully vaccinated cruises
It's not coming to the Port of Galveston, but it could be the restart of an industry decimated by the global pandemic. Here's what we know about the plans.

MIAMI, Florida (KTRK) -- Royal Caribbean has announced its first "fully vaccinated" cruises will depart Israel later this year.

The cruise line announced the plans for its new ship "Odyssey of the Seas." The vessel is expected to leave Israel and sail to the Greek Islands and Cyprus in May.

Passengers for the first sailing season have to be residents of Israel, and of course, be vaccinated for COVID-19 if they're above 16 years old.

RELATED: Carnival Cruise Line extends US trip cancellations through April

"Thanks to the millions of vaccines we have brought, I am proud that Israel will be the first country in the world to launch Royal Caribbean's new flagship," said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a statement released by the cruise line. "Royal Caribbean's decision to come to Israel is a significant expression of confidence in our policy. This is an important economic, touristic moment for the State of Israel."

In the United States, the cruise industry was one of the first and hardest hit when COVID-19 hit. Passengers were stranded on vessels and outbreaks became frequent. For months, major cruise lines have sat dormant, waiting for Americans to get a hold on the virus.

In Oct. 2020, the CDC issued guidance on resuming cruise ship passenger operations that included testing, quarantine and isolation requirements. The federal agency also planned to dedicate a laboratory team to cruise ship COVID-19 testing oversight.

WATCH: Travel expert lists top things to consider before booking cruise

How will it work? According to the CDC, cruising safely and responsibly during a global pandemic is pretty challenging, but what should you expect on board?

Royal Caribbean and Carnival have no plans to sail from U.S. ports until at least after April.

SEE ALSO: Royal Caribbean extends cruising suspension amid COVID-19 pandemic