As the conflict in Israel escalates, US citizens have been swiftly evacuated from the region to the safety of Cyprus. According to reports, approximately 2,500 US citizens were gathered in Haifa, Israel, awaiting evacuation to Limassol port, Cyprus. The US Embassy in Nicosia confirmed its collaboration with Cyprus to ensure the safe passage of these individuals.
The vessel ‘Rhapsody of the Seas’ has been designated for the operation and has already docked at the port of Haifa.
The US Embassy has emphasized the safety and security of American citizens remains their top priority. It also advised citizens to make their own reservations for onward travel from Larnaca or Paphos airports in Cyprus. While arrangements for their stay in state facilities have been made, onward travel remains the responsibility of travelers.
✈️ Evacuation Operation: US Citizens Gather at Haifa Port, Anxiously Awaiting Boarding for Evacuation to Cyprus Amidst Ongoing Tensions in Israelpic.twitter.com/xcWzJgZful
— WE News English (@WENewsEnglish) October 16, 2023
As the situation unfolds, increased security measures have been implemented at the port. The US embassy has also cautioned against travel arrangements through the northern buffer zone.
Additionally, the Cyprus government has pledged its commitment to ensuring the smooth facilitation of the evacuation process, with resources allocated to accommodate the influx of individuals arriving from Israel. Moreover, the government has activated the national ‘Estia’ action plan to assist not only US citizens but also those fleeing the conflict from other countries such as Denmark, the UK, Portugal, Holland, Belgium, and Germany.
US Efforts to Evacuate Citizens from Israel
In turn, US Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland expressed gratitude to Cyprus for its support of US citizens “transiting Cyprus following the horrific Hamas terrorist attacks against Israel.”
Grateful to Republic of Cyprus President @Christodulides for the support his government has shown to U.S. citizens transiting Cyprus following the horrific Hamas terrorist attacks against Israel. 🇺🇸🇨🇾
— Under Secretary Victoria Nuland (@UnderSecStateP) October 14, 2023
Evacuation efforts come as the White House and State Department launched charter flights to facilitate the safe passage of thousands of US citizens to safe destinations. These include Athens and Frankfurt.
The US government continues to explore different options, including land and sea routes, to facilitate travel out of Israel and guarantee the safety of its citizens.
Cruises Took Alternative Routes
Following the Israel-Hamas war, Celestyal Cruises has temporarily suspended calls to the port of Ashdod and replaced them with the port of Heraklion, Crete. This adjustment is said to be in place until the end of November and was taken on the advice of their internal teams and authorities. Affected customers are notified of changes to their itineraries and additional measures taken to ensure their continued satisfaction.
Likewise, AIDA Cruises has canceled planned visits to Israeli ports on its AIDAprima and AIDAblu ships. Two Israeli calls were replaced by alternative ports. AIDAprima will now dock in Limassol, Cyprus on November 25, 2023, while AIDAblu will sail from Antalya to Rhodes, arriving in Limassol a day later than originally planned.