Port formalities in Ashdod and Haifa?

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#1
BC, Canada
898 Posts
Joined Mar 2006
We'll be visiting Israel with Celebrity next month - two nights docked at Ashdod and one at Haifa. What's the process for passing through immigration, customs and security before meeting our small-group tour guide?
We'll be coming back to the ship each night.
#2
Israel
83 Posts
Joined Feb 2013
Originally posted by cheffip
We'll be visiting Israel with Celebrity next month - two nights docked at Ashdod and one at Haifa. What's the process for passing through immigration, customs and security before meeting our small-group tour guide?
We'll be coming back to the ship each night.
The immigration process will take place on your ship prior to your arrival. Israeli officials will embark your ship in Europe and along the sea day before Ashdod you will be called for the "face control interview".
Not like other port, in israel you are required to carry your passport with you along all your staying in Israel. Therefor the ship will return to you your passport before the interview and you'll get also a "landing card" which you'll have to carry in your passport. This is actually your visa to Israel. Israel is not stamping passport anymore (so if you'll want to visit places that does not like us, there will be no trace of your visit to Israel in your passport!!).
at the end of day 3, in Haifa, the ship will collect back your passport.
The only process you will have to go through when getting off the ship in both ports will be the security check.
it is a short, very efficient process, that takes minutes only.
In both ports your guide and transportation will wait for you at the exit of the passengers terminal.
You can get back to the ship anytime you want and also get off. While staying overnight in Ashdod you can leave the ship or return even in the middle of the night... However, take into consideration that in Ashdod the terminal is in the port and you can't walk to the exit of the port. Your tour will return you back to the terminal, but if you want to do it independently you will have to use either the ship shuttle or an authorised taxi.
#3
102,029 Posts
Joined Jul 2000
I want to note that it is not always the same.

While often the immigration is done face to face prior to arrival we have seen it done this way and also we have seen it done at the port.

Also I have seen it when shortly after you arrive you are off the ship and other times where you waited an hour or more.

A lot of this depends on events at the time of your arrival.

Keith
#4
Israel
83 Posts
Joined Feb 2013
Originally posted by Keith1010
I want to note that it is not always the same.

While often the immigration is done face to face prior to arrival we have seen it done this way and also we have seen it done at the port.

Also I have seen it when shortly after you arrive you are off the ship and other times where you waited an hour or more.

A lot of this depends on events at the time of your arrival.

Keith
The OP is coming on Celebrity Silhouette or Constellation. These are over 1,500 passengers ships. This process is always done when big ships are involved, unless the ship is coming from the south from the Gulf.
In this case both ships are coming from Europe so you can expect what I wrote.
You can get off the ship at the moment the ship get the clearance. Some companies are trying to prevent the independents passengers to get off before the ship's excursions leave, however they cannot do that, and no one can stop a passenger who want to get off the ship once the ship is cleared!
When immigration is done on ship the clearance process of the ship is very quick.
#5
102,029 Posts
Joined Jul 2000
Originally posted by TaliaBT
The OP is coming on Celebrity Silhouette or Constellation. These are over 1,500 passengers ships. This process is always done when big ships are involved, unless the ship is coming from the south from the Gulf.
In this case both ships are coming from Europe so you can expect what I wrote.
You can get off the ship at the moment the ship get the clearance. Some companies are trying to prevent the independents passengers to get off before the ship's excursions leave, however they cannot do that, and no one can stop a passenger who want to get off the ship once the ship is cleared!
When immigration is done on ship the clearance process of the ship is very quick.
I have been on ships arriving to Ashdod when we were cleared on the ship but we still had to wait for quite awhile due to security issues at the port.

If there is a security issue at the time for arrival the process is not so quick. That was our experience on one of our visits.

Another time it was very quick.

Things are not always the same as we all know. World events play a role in this including security issues within countries and that includes Israel.

Keith
#6
102,029 Posts
Joined Jul 2000
I would add the cruise line we sail does not give priority to those who take their own excursions.

The issue I posted about was related to port security.

And the ship was not cleared as soon as we arrived even though all the passengers and crew went through their interviews.

Keith
#7
BC, Canada
898 Posts
Joined Mar 2006
Thanks to you both. I'm concluding from your comments that Israel has a well established system and we'll probably have immigration clearance on one of our two sea days before arrival. As Keith notes, local events could cause a delay at the port. I believe we're the only major ship in port Oct 3-5 so that may help. Is security at the port itself something like an airport? I'll have my camera bag of course and my daily medication with me.
#8
102,029 Posts
Joined Jul 2000
cheffip, it's not as tight as an airport but they are pretty strict. For example at Ashdod they don't want you taking any photographs of the port.

Wishing you a wonderful time.

Israel is such a beautiful country. It is amazing how nice they made it. For example, you will pass by areas that are forests but that came to be because they planted millions of trees.

Keith
#9
BC, Canada
898 Posts
Joined Mar 2006
Originally posted by Keith1010
cheffip, it's not as tight as an airport but they are pretty strict. For example at Ashdod they don't want you taking any photographs of the port.

Wishing you a wonderful time.

Israel is such a beautiful country. It is amazing how nice they made it. For example, you will pass by areas that are forests but that came to be because they planted millions of trees.

Keith
Thanks Keith. First time there for us and really looking forward to it. - Phil
#11
72 Posts
Joined Jun 2000
Originally posted by Keith1010
I have been on ships arriving to Ashdod when we were cleared on the ship but we still had to wait for quite awhile due to security issues at the port.

If there is a security issue at the time for arrival the process is not so quick. That was our experience on one of our visits.

Another time it was very quick.

Things are not always the same as we all know. World events play a role in this including security issues within countries and that includes Israel.

Keith
Keith,

Thank you for all your informative posts! We will be sailing on Crystal Serenity in September and spending one day in Ashdod and two in Haifa. When you sailed this itinerary, did you overnight at a hotel in Israel? If so, which night? Did you use Guided Tours Israel or another tour operator? We are looking at private (just us, tours). Looking to finalize our itinerary and maximize our time. It appears as if you are very knowledgeable both of Israel tours and all things Crystal! Thanking you in advance for your reply.
#12
102,029 Posts
Joined Jul 2000
Originally posted by ASiuta
Keith,

Thank you for all your informative posts! We will be sailing on Crystal Serenity in September and spending one day in Ashdod and two in Haifa. When you sailed this itinerary, did you overnight at a hotel in Israel? If so, which night? Did you use Guided Tours Israel or another tour operator? We are looking at private (just us, tours). Looking to finalize our itinerary and maximize our time. It appears as if you are very knowledgeable both of Israel tours and all things Crystal! Thanking you in advance for your reply.
ASiuta you are very welcome.

Each time we sailed the itinerary we didn't overnight so I can't help you on the hotel. We took the excursions offered by Crystal Cruises which worked out well. We often do private tours in most places.


Keith
#13
237 Posts
Joined Jul 2005
Originally posted by ASiuta
Keith,

Thank you for all your informative posts! We will be sailing on Crystal Serenity in September and spending one day in Ashdod and two in Haifa. When you sailed this itinerary, did you overnight at a hotel in Israel? If so, which night? Did you use Guided Tours Israel or another tour operator? We are looking at private (just us, tours). Looking to finalize our itinerary and maximize our time. It appears as if you are very knowledgeable both of Israel tours and all things Crystal! Thanking you in advance for your reply.
In Haifa, the ship docks right in town. I wouldn't get a hotel there, just go to the ship. We stayed overnight in Jerusalem when our ship was 2 nights in Ashdod. If you are 1 night in Ashdod, you could overnight in a hotel in Jerusalem, then tour all day and end up in Haifa and back to the ship. But there would be some added expense getting from Jerusalem to Haifa.

We used Guided Tours Israel for a private driver/guide in Jerusalem, and also joined a smaller van tour of 8-10 or so in Haifa. Both worked out well for us.
#14
New York
338 Posts
Joined Aug 2012
We are doing this itinerary in October and will stay overnight in Jerusalem to maximize our time. Although I cannot yet give a first-hand recommendation, we have booked the Harmony Hotel. It was recommended to me repeatedly and is in an ideal location walking distance to the Old City.
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#15
USA
5,463 Posts
Joined Jun 2007
We've booked Guided Tours Israel for a 2 day tour when our ship docks overnight in Haifa. The guide will pick us up, drive to Jerusalem, tour there all day, take us to our Jerusalem hotel, pick us up the next morning, tour Galilee and Nazareth, then take us back to the ship. We also decided to do it with just the 2 of us so we can be flexible and see the things we're interested in. Very excited! Another one to mark off the bucket list.
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#16
Canada
777 Posts
Joined Jun 2014
Originally posted by Travelling2Some
We are doing this itinerary in October and will stay overnight in Jerusalem to maximize our time. Although I cannot yet give a first-hand recommendation, we have booked the Harmony Hotel. It was recommended to me repeatedly and is in an ideal location walking distance to the Old City.
I have stayed at the Harmony Hotel and was very very happy with the choice.

The hotel was very secure, the location was spectacular with so many things being within walking distance, including the old city of course, and the light rail system.

The rooms were 'average' but it was fine since we weren't in much with so much to do in Israel!

Hotel breakfast was perfect to get the day started and if you're around in the afternoon they have snacks which were also very nice.

Just a few steps away from the hotel is also a wonderful restaurant called Tmol Shilshom - I highly recommend.

Sorry I digress with food recommendations, but just hearing "Harmony Hotel" got me reminiscing!
#17
San Mateo, California
5,936 Posts
Joined Feb 2007
We have cruise to Israel on celebrity, Princess, Holland America, Cunard and Crystal over the years. We have family there, so we never book any tours but I will mention sometimes after the ship leaves Rome or Athens, the ports can be changed on a moments notice, generally what we have experienced is the port of Ashdod has been dropped and the days planned were all in Haifa... for us that was great... but it might be a concern for those book private tours out of Ashdod. I am sure those running tours are well aware of how these changes can occur and you might as the tour operator how it handled if there is a last minute change. Israel is a wonderful place to visit. We are going not by ship again this October to visit family.
#18
New York
338 Posts
Joined Aug 2012
Thanks for the restaurant recommendation, Shaddow. The Harmony Hotel does seem to be in a prime location; walking distance to the Old City and the big market (can't remember the spelling of that right now), right by the light rail and a also a lively place to be in the evening. With only one night we want to make the most of it.
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#19
644 Posts
Joined May 2009
Originally posted by Travelling2Some
Thanks for the restaurant recommendation, Shaddow. The Harmony Hotel does seem to be in a prime location; walking distance to the Old City and the big market (can't remember the spelling of that right now), be in the evening. With only one night we want .
The Market's name is Ma'cha'neh Ye'huda. It has recently transitioned to a lively nighttime scene when the vendors close for the night. There are bars, cafes, restaurants etc. Very lively. Enjoy
#20
San Mateo, California
5,936 Posts
Joined Feb 2007
Originally posted by TaliaBT
The OP is coming on Celebrity Silhouette or Constellation. These are over 1,500 passengers ships. This process is always done when big ships are involved, unless the ship is coming from the south from the Gulf.
In this case both ships are coming from Europe so you can expect what I wrote.
You can get off the ship at the moment the ship get the clearance. Some companies are trying to prevent the independents passengers to get off before the ship's excursions leave, however they cannot do that, and no one can stop a passenger who want to get off the ship once the ship is cleared!
When immigration is done on ship the clearance process of the ship is very quick.
I second the information here, I have done cruises similar to yours on Celebrity, Princess, Cunard, Holland America, Crystal and NCL... in all cases everything was handled on board prior to arrival, we were issued a card or sheet of paper to carry with us while in Israel, then we handed it in on the last day when going back to the ship. In all cases Israelie officials board the ship in Europe and our passports were collected for examination. A painless process. Have a great time.