Week in Review: Travelers, Tour Operators and Cruises Avoiding Israel

Cruise lines and tour operators continue to cancel or alter itineraries that included Israel as a result of the war. Travel advisors are also reporting that clients are canceling bookings not only to Israel, but to nearby destinations—including Egypt and Jordan. In some cases, clients are looking to cancel trips as far as Morocco.

Most recently, Intrepid Travel extended the cancelations of tour departures in Israel and the Palestinian Territories up until and including December 31 and is in the process of communicating this to all affected customers and travel advisors. The company had previously canceled trips through October 31. “With the conflict continuing to escalate, Intrepid believes extending the suspension through to the end of the year will provide customers with upcoming trips booked with greater certainty and more ability to make alternative travel plans,” it said in a statement to Travel Agent.

“While trips in Israel and the Palestinian Territories are paused for the remainder of the year, Intrepid has stressed that tour departures in neighboring Egypt and Jordan continue as scheduled. Government travel advisories for Egypt and Jordan remain unchanged and both countries remain open for tourism,” the company stressed.

Similarly, TTC Tour Brands said all upcoming tours to Israel departing up to and including December 31 will be suspended. Any guests booked on the affected departures will be contacted in the next few days about their options for rescheduling or alternative travel destinations.

Numerous cruise lines—including Celebrity Cruises, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line and Celestyalhave altered itineraries to visit Cyprus, Egypt and Turkey in lieu of Israeli port calls. On Thursday, MSC Cruises announced it revised the East Mediterranean itineraries for MSC Sinfonia and MSC Musica considering the geopolitical situation in Israel.

Good to know: The Israel Ministry of Tourism is also operating a “virtual office” reachable via WhatsApp (+972 55 972 6931) or email ([email protected]). Travelers currently in Israel can dial 104 for information or contact Home Front Command on WhatsApp or SMS on +972 52 910 4104.

Cold-Weather Cruising

Atlas Ocean Voyages_World Voyager_Antarctica
Atlas Ocean Voyages' World Voyager. (Atlas Ocean Voyages)

Separate from the tragedy of what's transpired in Israel, several cruise lines announced this week new itineraries to such destinations as Antarctica and Alaska.

Atlas Ocean Voyages introduced “Polar Expeditions by Atlas” to Antarctica, setting sail from November 2024 to March 2025. Travelers can embark on 48 expeditions aboard World Voyager, World Navigator and World Traveller. Itineraries range from five to 18 nights and most sailings include roundtrips from Ushuaia, complemented by “Fly the Drake” expeditions departing or ending in Punta Arenas.

American Cruise Lines, separately, announced two new exclusive U.S. National Parks cruises for 2024 exploring Alaska. Next year, the company is offering 15- and 18-day itineraries from Fairbanks to Juneau, which combine guided explorations in Denali and Kenai Fjords National Parks with small-ship cruising in Glacier Bay, the Inside Passage and Frederick Sound. Both itineraries also visit popular Alaskan ports of call, including stops in Anchorage, Skagway, Sitka, Petersburg, Wrangell and Tracy Arm.

New on the waters: Explora Journeys, the luxury travel brand of MSC Group, on Thursday celebrated the naming ceremony of Explora I in New York City. Explora I, the first of six luxury ships constructed by Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri in a deal valued at €3.5 billion, began sailing in July this year with a series of journeys in Northern Europe before crossing the Atlantic to New York with visits en route to Iceland, Greenland and Canada. Up next, the ship will head to the Caribbean.

Caribbean Sea Resorts

Speaking of the Caribbean, several islands and Caribbean-facing destinations saw the opening of new or renovated resorts this week.

Wyndham Grand Barbados, Sam Lord’s Castle Resort & Spa_Pool
Wyndham Grand Barbados, Sam Lord’s Castle Resort & Spa (Wyndham Grand Barbados, Sam Lord’s Castle Resort & Spa)

In Barbados, Wyndham Grand Barbados, Sam Lord’s Castle Resort & Spa made its debut. The largest single hotel on the island, the resort is located on the former site of Sam Lord’s Castle, which was once renowned for pirates during the 19th century. The new-build, all-inclusive resort offers 422 guestrooms, including 37 suites. The Wyndham Grand Barbados also offers more than 10 dining venues, including the Mediterranean Marketplace with flavors from North Africa, Italy, France, Portugal and Spain, pop-up food trucks, poolside dining, and a specialty “farm-to-fork” experience with locally sourced ingredients.

Fort Young Hotel & Dive Resort in Dominica’s capital, Roseau, has announced that its $18 million renovation is nearing completion. Now accepting reservations and due to be unveiled in November 2023, the updates includes 60 new guestrooms, the Compass Fitness Center, the Marquis Bar and LoungeRum and Wine Cellar + Retail Space and more. Beyond new guestrooms and amenities, Fort Young Hotel's dive operation will also evolve as part of the resort’s transformation. The resort will now manage its own dive operations.

On the Honduras island Roatán, Kimpton Grand Roatán Resort & Spa officially opened. Located on West Bay Beach, the hotel offers 119 guestrooms, suites and bungalows; four restaurants and bars; a spa; and nearly 6,000 square feet of meeting and event spaces. Among the specialty suites are the Spa Suites, complete with an outdoor shower and a separate soaking tub while the Presidential Suite, located on the top floor of the main building, features a living and dining room, kitchen area and an oceanfront terrace with a private plunge pool.

Lastly, Margaritaville Beach Resort Ambergris Caye, Belize hosted its grand opening ceremony this week. Pretty cool: Located in Ambergris Caye and surrounded by the second largest living reef in the world, Margaritaville Beach Resort Ambergris Caye offers guests a world of exploration and adventure that includes everything from zip-lining and exploring jungles on ATVs to snorkeling and fishing.

Tip of the Week

Hilton this week debuted its 2024 Trends Report titled “What Millennials, Gen Z, Gen X and Baby Boomers Tell Us About Travel in the Year Ahead,” and one theme stuck out to us: Culture and experiences will drive leisure travel decisions.

The trend away from material items and towards experiences appears to be continuing. Following the pandemic, nearly two-thirds of global travelers (64 percent) say they aim to reduce other areas of their personal spending to prioritize leisure travel in 2024. When they travel, these groups are increasingly interested in great food and beverage, exploration and adventure, and connecting with people and local cultures.

A Moment of Your Time

Travel Agent has launched the second iteration of its quarterly "Travel Trends & Advisor Insight Survey." We will use these quarterly surveys to learn more about the current state of the travel industry, as well as your business. Please take a few minutes to fill out the survey; following its conclusion, we will publish the findings here, so you will gain insight into the larger travel ecosystem and your colleague's businesses.

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