Posted December 3rd, 2009, 08:18 AM
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!!!!!