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  #1  
Old December 3rd, 2009, 12:52 AM
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Default Ashdod Shambles

Frequenters of this forum might be interested in a thread on the Celebrity forum detailing the problems associated with disembarking at Ashdod. The link is http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1069791.

Seems pretty clear that Ashdod is not ready for prime time when it comes to handling cruises, and hopefully cruise lines like Celebrity will bypass it until it gets its act together. The contrast with Haifa's sophisticated and centrally located cruise terminal is huge.

As a matter of interest, perhaps happy trailer or another Israeli on the board could estimate travel time from Haifa to Jerusalem, using the recently extended Road 6. From ship's gangway at Ashdod to Hillel and Yoel Salomon was about two and a half hours; if Haifa can come close to that, it would eliminate any need for calls at Ashdod.
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  #2  
Old December 3rd, 2009, 04:57 AM
Keith1010 Keith1010 is online now
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We were in Ashdod in 2007. I would not call it not being ready for prime time. Rather it is a very secure port. Our disembarkation did take place around 30 minutes later than planned and this was the first port we have docked at where we were asked for security reasons not to take pictures. And I know there were some challenges with cabs as well. We undertood these situations and had a wonderful time in Jerusalem. We will be there again in the spring also docking at Ashdod.

I can point to some ports in the USA that are more challenging than others and also the same is true in Canada. One of the factors for these ports is also security .

I guess since we have witnesses so much in our lifetime we understand the challenges with security and while it can be a challenge we would rather have more than less security for the well being of everyone even if that causes some inconvenience.

In the end, my major memories of that day were all of the wonderful sites we went to, rather than the 30 minute delay getting off the ship.

Keith
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Old December 3rd, 2009, 05:44 AM
whale-watcher whale-watcher is offline
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This was NOT our experience less than two weeks ago; we were off the boat shortly after 7am and our private drver/guide was waiting for us close to the gangway (with many other drivers as well); we were in the Jerusalem area before 9am with no delays leaving the port area. Unlike Haifa, the port is in a very industrial area, but for us at least offered significantly shorter travel times, even though we were using our own arrangements.
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  #4  
Old December 3rd, 2009, 07:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rsquare View Post
As a matter of interest, perhaps happy trailer or another Israeli on the board could estimate travel time from Haifa to Jerusalem, using the recently extended Road 6. From ship's gangway at Ashdod to Hillel and Yoel Salomon was about two and a half hours; if Haifa can come close to that, it would eliminate any need for calls at Ashdod.
Travel time between the pier in Haifa and downtown Jerusalem during the morning rush hour, even using Rt 6 will be at least 3 hours- and it's a long and draining 3 hours, not a pleasant way to start a day touring.

Travel time between the pier in Ashdod and downtown Jerusalem during the morning rush hour should be around 90 minutes, perhaps up to 2 hours if traffic is particularly bad, but no more than that (and it could be less than that- there's a new highway between Rt 1 and Ashdod that shortens the trip; it opened a few months ago).

At night, the return trip to Ashdod would be 90 minutes; the return trip to Haifa would be at least two and a half hours.

Let's see...: The thread you linked to has only 6 posts; the first was the original query about taxi availability at the port, the next two posts simply remarked on the tight security at the port. Of the last 3 comments, all of which were critical, the first post was yours, the next person seems to have misunderstood his taxi driver's fare quote and was quite angry about that misunderstanding, and then he went on to complain about a situation with the port shuttles that seems to be an issue Celebrity should have been aware of and been able to work around, and the last person talks about a chaotic situation on Celebrity at when debarking at the port, and then he rants about the 'taxi mafia'!

My experience this June, when I cruised r/t out of Ashdod on an Israeli cruise ship, was that my taxi driver took me to the shuttle bus area, where shuttle buses were running to the ship every 15 minutes or so. The return was the same- off the ship, thru immigration, and onto the shuttle bus to where taxis were waiting. No chaos, no anger, no confusion. Time from getting off the ship to my waiting taxi: less than half an hour- and that includes loading and unloading luggage off the bus. While I had prearranged a taxi, there were many waiting in the designated area, some prearranged but the others open, and waiting for fares.

The shuttle buses are necessary for both a security standpoint and also a practical standpoint- the Ashdod port is mainly an industrial port, and taxis do not have easy access to the ships. That being said, cruise ships have been frequenting the port for many years.

I'm not sure what all the anger is about on the other thread- I've been in several ports where I stood in line for at least half an hour waiting to either disembark or to board a tender. As to the posters who complained about Israeli taxi drivers- yeah, like that never happens anywhere else in the world!

I'm going to also post on the Celebrity thread, but I'm not too concerned about the issue, after all, there have been only a few responses. It sounds like more of a Celebrity issue than anything else, especially since I haven't heard of any grumbles from anyone on other cruise lines.

As to your suggestion of skipping Ashdod as it wouldn't be difficult to tour Jerusalem from Haifa: that's something I would NEVER want to do! What a horribly long day it would make!!!!!
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  #5  
Old December 3rd, 2009, 06:22 PM
Fblack Fblack is offline
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We were on the Equinox in October and had absolutely NO problems at either of the ports in Israel. We took ships tours in both places and everything was fine. We had no problems getting in or out of port.

Traffic was heavy in both ports and there was a slowdown on the road to Jerusalem in the morning because of a motorcycle protest. WE had two very enjoyable days in Israel.
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  #6  
Old December 3rd, 2009, 09:52 PM
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We were on the Equinox in October and had absolutely NO problems at either of the ports in Israel. We took ships tours in both places and everything was fine. We had no problems getting in or out of port.

Traffic was heavy in both ports and there was a slowdown on the road to Jerusalem in the morning because of a motorcycle protest. WE had two very enjoyable days in Israel.
Possibly we were on the same cruise; certainly, boarding the busses for Celebrity-sponsored tours seemed to go well on my cruise, but I and my companions were doing Jerusalem on our own, and the experience was nightmarish.

I appreciate happy trailer's comments here and on the original Celebrity board thread (http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showt...1#post22220077). I think that her perception that cab drivers were quoting in NIS and travellers were hearing dollars may well explain the reports of outrageous cab fares; NIS50 to the gate would be around $13, a bit steep but not as outrageous as $50. However, her point that "The shuttle buses are necessary for both a security standpoint and also a practical standpoint- the Ashdod port is mainly an industrial port, and taxis do not have easy access to the ships" touches on what may well have driven the perceptions of gouging - some taxis do have access to the port, and were actively looking for business. You don't need a Ph.D. in economics to know that a small numbers of sellers in a restricted market have immense pricing power.

Similarly, her comment that "I'm not sure what all the anger is about on the other thread- I've been in several ports where I stood in line for at least half an hour waiting to either disembark or to board a tender. As to the posters who complained about Israeli taxi drivers- yeah, like that never happens anywhere else in the world! " is a little disingenuous. The comments were not about getting off the ship; Equinox, in fact, used two gangways to speed disembarkation. The anger was about the disorganization which was apparent after disembarking, and the perception that some cab drivers were taking advantage of travellers. I'm guessing that, in Israel as everywhere else, cabbies are more likely to rip off foreigners who don't speak their language than natives. The fact that it happens elsewhere is true, and sad, but not really germane to this discussion of Ashdod. If the anger is based on a failure to clarify which currency is being quoted, then that is a lesson learned, but that's what the anger is all about.

If Haifa doesn't work as a port for Jerusalem, then perhaps improving Ashdod is a possibility. It would be helpful if the port could provide a marked shuttle boarding area, and shuttle bus drivers sufficiently well-trained not get lost trying to exit the port. Even better would be a proper cruise terminal.
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Old December 4th, 2009, 09:13 PM
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I am a very experienced cruiser and have taken over 45 cruises. I usually take private tours or hire taxis at a lot of ports. Frankly I think Athens has the worst (rip-off) taxi drivers.

But for a tour to Jerusalem, I decided to take a ships tour. I had heard about various problems with getting a taxi, getting through the port area, and the traffic. I just did not want to chance missing the ship or missing some highlights of Jerusalem.
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Old December 5th, 2009, 08:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fblack View Post
I am a very experienced cruiser and have taken over 45 cruises. I usually take private tours or hire taxis at a lot of ports. Frankly I think Athens has the worst (rip-off) taxi drivers.

But for a tour to Jerusalem, I decided to take a ships tour. I had heard about various problems with getting a taxi, getting through the port area, and the traffic. I just did not want to chance missing the ship or missing some highlights of Jerusalem.
Again, I am not aware of anyone having problems with their pre-arranged private excursions when we docked in Ashdod last month. Our private guide/driver was waiting for us in the same location where the official princess excursions met. We were on the way to Jerusalem long before the official ships tours left
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Old December 8th, 2009, 03:00 PM
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We returned from the Equinox cruise last month and had an interesting experience in Ashdod. We rented a car in Haifa and toured around some and then ended up spending the night with relatives in Jerusalem. The next day we returned our Avis car in Ashdod, about 10 minutes from the port. Agents there not too friendly-had to take a cab back to the port - no one there would shuttle us over to the port.
Cab driver dropped us at the entrance to the port and said he wasn't licensed to go inside the port. We walked over to a security guard and he just pointed to the ship and told us to go in. It was pouring rain, at least we had umbrellas. We must have walked about 10-15 minutes to get to our ship and not one shuttle bus passed by.
Finally made it to the ship and there are the shuttle buses sitting by the ship. Now it is late afternoon - the time for people to start returning to the ship - so why are the buses all sitting there instead of by the port entrance? We were drenched and not too happy - when we told the Equinox security guards to get the buses to the port entry!
By the time we were up in our cabin we could see that some of the buses had headed out. Very poor system in Ashdod!!
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Old December 9th, 2009, 04:51 AM
Keith1010 Keith1010 is online now
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Originally Posted by reba View Post
We returned from the Equinox cruise last month and had an interesting experience in Ashdod. We rented a car in Haifa and toured around some and then ended up spending the night with relatives in Jerusalem. The next day we returned our Avis car in Ashdod, about 10 minutes from the port. Agents there not too friendly-had to take a cab back to the port - no one there would shuttle us over to the port.
Cab driver dropped us at the entrance to the port and said he wasn't licensed to go inside the port. We walked over to a security guard and he just pointed to the ship and told us to go in. It was pouring rain, at least we had umbrellas. We must have walked about 10-15 minutes to get to our ship and not one shuttle bus passed by.
Finally made it to the ship and there are the shuttle buses sitting by the ship. Now it is late afternoon - the time for people to start returning to the ship - so why are the buses all sitting there instead of by the port entrance? We were drenched and not too happy - when we told the Equinox security guards to get the buses to the port entry!
By the time we were up in our cabin we could see that some of the buses had headed out. Very poor system in Ashdod!!
I am sorry to hear about your experieince but keep in mind that security for obvious reasons is the number priority for this port. We have all seen the impact of areas around the world where there was a breach in security and as one can imagine there are likely greater risks in ports such as this one if security is not tight.

Keith
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Old December 9th, 2009, 08:44 PM
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I have visited Israel four times and appreciate the need for security but my gripe was with Celebrity's shuttle system. They did not perform as they were suppose to.
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  #12  
Old December 11th, 2009, 02:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Keith1010 View Post
I am sorry to hear about your experieince but keep in mind that security for obvious reasons is the number priority for this port. We have all seen the impact of areas around the world where there was a breach in security and as one can imagine there are likely greater risks in ports such as this one if security is not tight.

Keith
Israel manages to keep very tight security at Haifa, which is a military as well as civil port while providing a very user-friendly experience for cruise passengers. I think that in the wake of recent events, there is a tendency to use security to excuse all sorts of lapses that are simply poor management.
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Old December 11th, 2009, 02:33 PM
Keith1010 Keith1010 is online now
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Israel manages to keep very tight security at Haifa, which is a military as well as civil port while providing a very user-friendly experience for cruise passengers. I think that in the wake of recent events, there is a tendency to use security to excuse all sorts of lapses that are simply poor management.
I don't agree. When we were there we were not even allowed to take pictures and the issue was security.

We have sailed all around the world and how the port is secured will vary from very little if any security to a good deal of security.

I would rather have more than less security.

Keith
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Old December 13th, 2009, 09:30 AM
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I was on the same cruise as Fblack (9/26 Equinox) and we had no problems in Ashdod with a private tour. Our guide met as at 7AM right outside the passenger terminal and we drove to Bethlehem first and then to Jerusalem. Getting out of Ashdod was a lot easier traffic-wise than Haifa.

Just wanted to share my experience - I don't post often on the destination boards, but we had such a fantastic time in Israel!

-Jen
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