Haifa Port, Israel's leading seaport, is implementing a long-term, comprehensive plan to entice cruise lines back to the "Gateway to the Holy Land" in consultation with Miami-based Access Cruise Inc., which provides sales and marketing representation to the cruise industry.
Haifa Port and Access Cruise, along with the director of marketing of the Israeli Ministry of Tourism in North America, met with executives from all the major North American cruise lines during the recent 2016 Seatrade Convention in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
As a result of those meetings, Haifa Municipality and the Haifa Tourism Company board of directors have identified the cruise industry as an important target market for stimulating travel to the region. They have created an attractive array of benefits and incentives for cruise lines calling at the destination -- especially for lines that schedule multiple or overnight calls at Haifa Port.
"We know it's a dream for millions of people around the world to get a taste of the Holy Land," said Zohar Rom, director of marketing and spokesperson of Haifa Port. "Our mission is to give the cruise industry great opportunities to fulfill their dream. Together with the Access Cruise team I am certain we can grow the cruise business to Haifa Port."
"Haifa is committed to driving cruise business to Israel," said Shannon McKee, president of Access Cruise Inc. "Given the current geopolitical situation in the Middle East, port officials realize that they need to take a long-term, regional approach to bringing cruise ships back to Haifa."
Haifa Port is Israel's largest seaport, located on a natural protected bay and offering docking facilities for large passenger liners. The port is operated by government-owned Haifa Port Company and at the peak of its cruise operations handled more than 300,000 passengers per year.
The Israeli port has been a popular destination for European cruise lines such as MSC Cruises and Costa Cruises, which featured regular service to ports in Israel, Egypt and the Red Sea. Premium lines like Princess Cruises, Holland America Line and Celebrity Cruises have made regular calls at Haifa on world cruises and extended Europe itineraries.
Haifa's cruise facilities include a recently expanded modern passenger terminal and a quay that can accommodate three large cruise ships at once. A finger pier was added recently to accommodate two more passenger ships.
Haifa Port's passenger terminal can efficiently process passengers from multiple ships simultaneously. Terminal enhancements include a comfortable waiting area and a concourse with a duty-free store, souvenir shop, café, VAT reimbursement counter and currency exchange, Israel Ministry of Interior services, and other travel-related services.
In addition to its world-class beaches and local cultural and historical attractions, Haifa is considered the gateway to many of the region's important biblical and religious sites.