Cruise company: choose Haifa or Tripoli

They can cruise to Haifa, but passengers aren’t warned they won’t be allowed off at Tripoli

By Leon Symons, November 4, 2010

The online description is mouthwatering: "…an enticing mix of architectural and cultural wonders, this 14-night cruise on board Adonia takes in the magnificent cities of Haifa and Cairo, as well as a fascinating collection of other destinations…"

The only problem is any passenger who visits Haifa - despite forking out anything from £1,600 to more than £6,000 per head - will be "confined to ship" at another port: Tripoli, the capital of Libya.

This is because P&O says it has "no option" other than to comply with Libya's demand that any Israeli, or anyone with an Israeli stamp in their passport, cannot set foot in President Gaddafi's country.

Yet P&O is owned by the Florida-based Carnival cruise line. Carnival was founded in 1971 by the late Ted Arison, who was Israeli and fought in the War of Independence in 1948 and whose son Micky, born in Tel Aviv, is now chairman and chief executive. Carnival also owns a number of other cruise lines including Cunard, Holland America and Princess Cruises.

P&O said that it called at Tripoli "two or three times a year, and does so because of continued interest and demand from passengers".

Yet it also admitted that Libya is the only country on any of its itineraries that bans Israelis or anyone with an Israeli stamp in their passports. It also bans all Americans.

In a statement, the company said: "In order to call in at Tripoli we do have to comply with the requirements laid down by the Libyan authorities. These state that those with Israeli passports or with Israeli stamps in their passports - whatever their nationality - will not be allowed to disembark in a Libyan port and, as such, are required to remain on board the ship.

"These requirements are not optional and we cannot waive them as the Libyan authorities make it clear that the ship will be denied entry into Libyan waters."

The company said it paid special attention to the official lists of countries where it should not call "because of either the security or political situation".

It received such information from the British Foreign Office or the US State Department.

P&O added: "We do not believe that it is appropriate for us to make any further or additional judgments in this area. Any passengers who do not wish to comply with Libyan entry requirements should select a different itinerary which does not call in at Libya."

That explanation did not satisfy retired Edgware IT consultant Colin Chadwick, who was keen to go on the cruise until he discovered the snag about Libya.

Mr Chadwick, 63, said: "I think it's hypocritical of P&O that they are prepared to do this and go to Libya on this condition. The people who have visited Israel can't have their passport stamped, whether they are Jewish or not. It is
a Jewish-owned company, so they should not accept this.

"I fancied going to Israel and this cruise also had Egypt and the Pyramids, but I thought I would check out prices elsewhere. I looked on the internet and found an American website which carried a notice saying that anyone with Israel stamped in their passport could not enter Libya.

"I called P&O about it. I was told that I couldn't go to Libya if I had an Israeli stamp. The advice I was given was that
I should get another passport."

There were other comments about the restriction on a community forum on the P&O website, discussing the same cruise.

One person said: "If the details given in the 'help with booking' link are correct I would imagine at least half the passengers will not be prepared at time of boarding.

"Does this then mean that we will all be excluded from boarding? Surely P&O would not have put this port of call on the itinerary unless they have researched the requirements."

Last updated: 4:49pm, November 4 2010