Port Haifa (cruise port to Tel Aviv, Israel) announced it will relaunch cruise shipping by the end of summer 2020. The return to passenger operations will commence under strict social distancing and hygiene regulations due to the ongoing Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.
Haifa port officials said:
"Right now, we're talking about return to activity towards the end of summer. 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 cruise port still receives cancellations of sailings for the coming months on a daily basis. However, it also receives new orders for 2021-2022 which should be peak years in case the industry resumes full operations.
Port officials added they assumed 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 industry came to a halt in March as the pandemic hit the country, causing Haifa port to lose tens of millions in revenue. 2020 was projected to be a record year for voyages docking at the northern harbour. However, the COVID-19 crisis brought all plans to a halt.
Haifa port officials added that forced closure of the cruise industry throughout the year would see the country miss out on nearly 60,000 foreign tourists bringing in profits estimated at hundreds of millions.