800 tourists on board the 68,000 Gross registered tons Crystal Serenity luxury liner toured Israel last week for 11 hours while the cruise ship anchored at Ashdod port.
The cruise ship visit to Israel was the first visit after a break of seven years that American cruise ships returned to Israeli ports.
The resumption of U.S. cruise ship visits to Israel became possible after the official U.S. travelers warning for Israel was modified, and US insurance companies stopped demanding excessive insurance premiums for US citizens traveling to Israel.
The Crystal Serenity luxury liner owned by Crystal Cruises and registered in The Bahamas has Guest Capacity of 1,080, she is 249.9m long, has a draft of 7.6m and cruising speed of 21 knots.
The cruise that landed in Ashdod last week originated in Miami and will end in London. On her trip the vessel called at Dubai, at Aqaba, and continued on to Alexandria, Egypt.
The vessel port agent A. Rosenfeld Shipping organized sightseeing tours to the 800 guests who visited Jerusalem, Massada and Tel Aviv.
In 2006, 88 passenger ships with 100,067 passengers called at Ashdod port, compared to 58 vessels in 2005. Ashdod port expects the number of ships in 2007 to pass the 140 ships and 141,000 passengers.
Mrs. Iris Shtark chairperson of the port said in a press release that the port has the right infrastructure to handle large luxury passenger ships. She noted that the port had invested over NIS 10 million to widen the port passenger terminal facilities and she expects that in 2007 Ashdod port will handle more passenger ships then Haifa.