Royal Caribbean offering 'fully vaccinated' cruise

Royal Caribbean offering 'fully vaccinated' cruise
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Royal Caribbean announced Monday that it will be launching its new "Odyssey of the Seas" ship for the first time in May, marking what the line calls its first "fully vaccinated" cruise.

The ship will launch from Haifa, Israel, and make multiple stops around the Mediterranean Sea during its three-to seven-night voyage, the cruise ship company said in a statement.

"In conjunction with Israel’s health and tourism authorities, Royal Caribbean will be the first to offer fully vaccinated sailings, where both crew and guests above the age of 16 will be vaccinated against COVID-19. Details on the additional health and safety measures to be implemented by Israel and Royal Caribbean will be announced at a later date," the company said.

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Israel took part in a mass-vaccination effort targeting older citizens that has led to a steep drop-off in severe cases of coronavirus, reducing the number of patients that need to be placed on a ventilator.

The country, which has a population of about 9 million, has vaccinated more than 90 percent of its residents, a higher inoculation percentage than any nation in the world. 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin NetanyahuBenjamin (Bibi) NetanyahuMORE praised the announcement as evidence of Israel's status as the "world champion in vaccines," stating it would soon be the "world champion in economics and tourism in the post-Corona era.”

“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," Netanyahu said, according to the statement. "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."

Royal Caribbean's announcement could serve as a boon to the devastated tourism industry. A policy briefing from the United Nations released in August estimated that the tourism industry could potentially lose up to $1.2 trillion and 120 million tourism jobs due to the pandemic.

"No country has escaped the decimation of its tourism sector, from Italy where tourism accounts for 6 per cent of the country’s GDP to Palau where it generates almost 90 per cent of all exports. This crisis is a major shock for developed economies and an emergency for the most vulnerable people and developing countries," the briefing read.