The Port of Haifa braces to relaunch cruise ships by the end of summer under strict social distancing and hygiene regulations in hopes of keeping coronavirus at bay.
"Right now, we're talking about return to activity towards the end of summer," said port officials. "We wish to bring back tourists during the busy autumn season. In practice, it is still too early to estimate when the cruises will return, and it is highly likely that this will only happen next spring."
The port, reportedly, still receives cancellations of cruises for the coming months on a daily basis, but also receives new orders for 2021-2022 at the same time, which should be peak years if the industry resumes full operations.
"We assume that a full return to activity of the cruise industry, including high occupancy of ships, will only happen after a vaccine or an effective cure have been found since both cruise companies and tourists are afraid of getting stuck in the middle of the ocean with sick passengers."
The cruise ship industry came to a screeching halt in March as the pandemic first hit the country, causing the port to lose tens of millions in revenue. This year was projected to be a record year for cruises docking at the northern harbor, however, the crisis brought all plans to a halt.
Port officials also said that forced closure of the cruise industry throughout 2020 would also see the country miss out on some 60,000 foreign tourists bringing in profits estimated at hundreds of millions. A similar number of Israelis was projected to make the same trip the other way around.
Mano Maritime and Kosher Luxury Travel are the first companies whose cruise liners are expected to set sail through the Mediterranean in just over a month.