The Orient Queen docked in Beirut July 18
to help evacuate U.S. citizens from Lebanon as fighting with Israel
The ship will take
people to the island-nation of Cyprus at first light, said Lt. Col.
Mark Ballesteros, a spokesman at the U.S. Dept. of
The U.S. Defense
Dept. contracted the vessel, formerly Festival Cruises Bolero, from
Lebanese cruise operator, Abou Merhi Cruises. The Orient Queen will
operate as a ferry between Beirut and Cyprus, Ballesteros said, and
the 150-mile trip will take a surprisingly long eight to 10 hours
to reach its destination.
the DOD contracted with a second cruise ship, the Rahmah, and is
looking at others. The Rahmah, a 1,400-person ship owned and
operated by Saudi company Namma International Trading Industry
Services, will also act as a ferry between Beirut and
The DOD said that
the U.S. Navy destroyer, the USS Gonzalez, will provide security
for the Orient Queen on its ferry journeys. Prior to the
Lebanon-Israel conflict, there were an estimated 25,000 American
citizens in Lebanon.
contact reporter Johanna Jainchill, send e-mail to [email protected].