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Royal Caribbean cruise ship helps evacuate Americans from Israel (updated)

Rhapsody of the Seas, here in a file photo, is providing safe passage to Americans evacuating from Israel
Royal Caribbean International is assisting the US Department of State to help safely evacuate Americans from Israel aboard one of its cruise ships.

Tuesday update: The operation began overnight Sunday with Rhapsody of the Seas arriving at Limassol, Cyprus early Tuesday, according to AIS data.

Rhapsody, which had been sailing regularly in the region, canceled its itineraries when the violence in Israel broke out the weekend before last.

Providing safe passage

'Now, with enhanced safety precautions in place, our ship is providing free passage, including accommodation and food, for Americans in the region wishing to leave and find safer ground,' Jason Liberty, CEO, Royal Caribbean Group, said in a note to employees.

'This has truly been an incredible effort as our teams worked tirelessly over the past week to make this mission possible. My heartfelt gratitude goes out to all involved and especially to the ship’s officers and crew for their unwavering support of this call to serve others in the midst of unimaginable tragedy,' Liberty continued.

'It is in challenging times like these that the phenomenal spirit and values of our collective Royal Caribbean Group team shines.'

The number of evacuees was not immediately available. 

The 1997-built Rhapsody of the Seas has capacity for 2,431 passengers and 770 crew.