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Guided Tours Israel Recently??

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We are on Pacific Princess in July and would like to hear of experiences with Guided Tours Israel for an overnight/2-day tour. Were you able to get a group together outside of your Roll Call?? Please give details! ;-)

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We are on Pacific Princess in July and would like to hear of experiences with Guided Tours Israel for an overnight/2-day tour. Were you able to get a group together outside of your Roll Call?? Please give details! ;-)

 

We are scheduled for a Celebrity Equinox cruise in October with two days in Israel. After doing research I got a Roll Call group together for a tour with Guided Tours Israel. They have been very responsive and helpful in deciding which places to visit. I also know that other people on our thread decided to use them as well.

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My husband and I recently returned from our cruise to the Holy Land. We used GTI for two days of touring there and were very pleased with the service and tours we had there. I just posted a port review of our tours in this forum. I got our group together through our roll call a few months before the cruise. We were all christian and chose a christian based tour there. There are so many sites to see and 2 days are just not enough to get everything in. Alon Schneider of GTI was very helpful and prompt in answering all my question about the tours. We were in Jerusalem on a Friday, alot of the sites close early for the Sabbath. We were able to chose to visit the Dead Sea (our choice) or Bethlehem. If we had been there on any other day, I would have chosen to spend it all in Jerusalem and visited the sites at our liesure with losts of breaks inbetween. We rushed to get in as many sites as possible but in the end, it was a fantastic trip.

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My husband and I recently returned from our cruise to the Holy Land. We used GTI for two days of touring there and were very pleased with the service and tours we had there. I just posted a port review of our tours in this forum. I got our group together through our roll call a few months before the cruise. We were all christian and chose a christian based tour there. There are so many sites to see and 2 days are just not enough to get everything in. Alon Schneider of GTI was very helpful and prompt in answering all my question about the tours. We were in Jerusalem on a Friday, alot of the sites close early for the Sabbath. We were able to chose to visit the Dead Sea (our choice) or Bethlehem. If we had been there on any other day, I would have chosen to spend it all in Jerusalem and visited the sites at our liesure with losts of breaks inbetween. We rushed to get in as many sites as possible but in the end, it was a fantastic trip.

Thank you Kathleen! Your comments were most helpful!

MSK1

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Hi MSK1,

 

Since you did ask for details about GTI, here is how our tours with them went:

 

My husband and I recently returned from the May 3rd sailing of the Azamara Quest with two ports of call in Israel (Haifa and Ashdod). We arrived in Haifa Israel on Thursday May 7th. There were immigration tables set up in a lounge for a face to face passport check. The line was long but went fast. We were given an entry card to keep with our passport and had to be returned to the officials at the port entry control point in Ashdod on the last day before reboarding the ship. We had allowed ourselves a half hour for these immigration formalities and were off the ship with time to spare.

 

We used Guided Tours Israel for our christian themed tours here. Alon Schneider handeled the coorespondence and was extremely helpful in planning the trip. All of my queries were answered quickly. We had a comfortable Mercedes Van for our group of six. Our guide Jacob was extremely knowledgable about Jesus’ ministry in Galilee, often quoting the appropriate bible verse. He offered a few alternatives to our original plans and off we went!

 

Our first stop was Nazareth with the Basilica of the Annunciation. The lower church centers on the Grotto (the remains of the home of Mary, Joseph and Jesus) and the Cave of the Annunciation, where the angelic announcement to Mary is believed to have occurred.The vast upper church is decorated with mosaics of the Virgin donated by communities from around the world.

 

The Church of St. Gabriel is the Orthodox counterpart to the Catholic Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth. According to Orthodox tradition, the Virgin Mary first received the news from Gabriel that she would bear the Savior while she was out fetching water. The Orthodox Church is therefore located over the spring that fed Mary's Well.

 

Our road trip through Galilee continued on to Mount Tabor. The road up to the top was nerve-racking but we there safely. Christians have identified a rock atop Mt. Tabor as the place of the Transfiguration of Christ. The Church and gardens are beautiful but the views of the Jezreel Valley were the highlight for us.

 

For our next stop took us to Yardenit, the Baptismal site on the Jordan River. It was beautifully done with very nice landscaping, big shady trees and pavement (steps or paved path down to the water), a large gift shop and very good restaurant. We had a typical Israeli lunch there with lots of salads, Hummus, Pita bread and Saint Peters Fish. After lunch we bathed our feet in the beautiful clear water of the Jordan. There were quite a few Orthodox Christians there who purchased a white gown there for their complete immersion baptism. Jacob told us that the gown is saved and used as a funeral schroud. The gift shop had alot of nice quality, typical Israeli souvenirs.

 

We moved on to Capernaum which is often mentioned as being Jesus’ home base during his Galilean ministry. Jesus lived at his deciple Peter’s home. Our guide Jacob told us that Capernaum is one spot where historians are absolutely sure that Jesus lived and preached. The ruins of Peters home are displayed below the chapel and the ruins of the Synogogue are close by. Of all the places we visited in Israel, I was awed by the knowledge that I was literally walking in Jesus’ footsteps here the most.

 

The next stop was what Jacob kept refering to as the “Beatitudes”. It took me a while to catch on but he was referring to the “Mount of Beatitudes” the location of the famous “Sermon on the Mount”! I refreshed my memory when I got home and relearned that itis the greatest sermon Jesus ever preached containing the Lord's prayer, the beatitudes, and the golden rule. There is a church here but the views of the sea of Galilee and surrounding countryside are what draw the visitors.

 

After a long day of touring, we headed back to Haifa. Jacob drove through the German Colony that had been built by the Templers. It looked lovely, with lots of shops and cafes. If we had had time, it would have been a great place for a break. We drove to the top of the Baha’i Gardens for the views. We just had time for a Photo Stop from a scenic viewpoint where we could see the city, harbor and gardens. We could see the Quest in Port below. Should we come to Haifa again, I would do a tour of the gardens and stroll through the German Colony.

 

We arrived back onboard and slept soundly that night. The next morning we arrived in Ashdod, Israel. The Israeli Immigration officials quickly checked our Entry Card and passport as we left the ship (no lines at all today!). Jacob was waiting for us and we got an early start for touring Jerusalem. After about an hour we arrived at a viewpoint across the valley from Jerusalem above the cemetary. The city was spread out before us. Jacob pointed out the different quarters, churches, mosques and historical sites to highlight where and how we would be touring the city. This was a great orientation because once we entered the city, I would have been completely lost. We moved on to park by the Jaffa Gate and began our adventure. Stepping into the Arab Quarter was like stepping back in time. The narrow roads (pedestrian area) with shops to our right and left, the clothing, spices, foods were in colorful diplays. It was very crowded and very noisy. All of a sudden the call to prayers sounded throughout the city and the people suddenly started moving to the closest Mosque. The roads cleared quickly- we moved on to the Jewish quarter. The shops here seemed to be more western, clearer diplays and more modern. Maybe it just was because since the crowds had cleared, we were able to see everything! Whatever the reason, it was a pleasant walk through the streets. Jacob took us to a local wine shop where we got to sample the local vintages. We were told that the Vineyards in Israel have in the last decade begun to produce high quality wines. I had never thought of Israeli Wine when I was in my local wine store but when you think about it, wine had a few thousand years of tradition in this region. The wine could be purchased and mailed back to the states (or where ever you lived), a nice souvenir !

 

We moved on to the Westen or Wailing Wall. There was a large police presence. When I commented on it, Jacob told us that this wasn’t large but normal. Visitors of all religions are welcome to approach the Wall and to pray silently beside it. Men who would like to go to the wall must wear a hat or take a free head covering from a box beside the entrance to the prayer area.Women may also borrow the required shawls and short-skirt coverings. A dividing screen reserves an area at the extreme right of the Western Wall for women, who are not allowed into the men's section in keeping with Orthodox Jewish tradition.

 

We moved on to the Via Delorose and walked the Stations of the Cross. By this time we needed a rest room break, Jacob brought us to a public bathroom. Ladies beware! There were just holes in the floor and no handles to hold on to. With a skirt it might have worked if we had been desperate enough but in pants, no way! We waited until we reached the Church of the Holy Selpulchre were there were (Unisex) clean western type bathrooms.

 

The Church of the Holy Selpulchre is the holiest of the Holy sites for Christians in Israel. It is built over Golgatha, the place where Jesus was cruicified and the tomb where he was buried. We spent a while here, the place is steeped with history and stories, some good – some horrible.

 

We moved on to the Armenien Quarter and on to the Room of the Last Supper. We then made our way back to Jaffa Gate, tired, hot and hungry. We found a bakery on the way out of the city and grabbed a snack and some water for our next stop- The Dead Sea.

 

We drove throught the desert for about an hour to reach the Dead Sea. We stopped at a Kibbutz for lunch close to the beach. It was very crowded with busses and tourists. The caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found were behind the buildings and could (for a fee) be visited. Lunch here was a disappointment after our feast the day before. The shop here had lots of Dead Sea Souvenirs. We were glad to get out of there and finally make it to the beach. The area had a changing room, restaurant and gift shop. We made our way down to the water, only one other member of our group decided to bathe with me. We went into the water until it was about knee high and the next step had me dropping down, the water was chest level, I had landed in a sinkhole! I crawled out of it scraping up my knee (which was lots of fun with the high salt content of the water) only to find myself falling into not one but two more of these stupid holes! We couldn’t stop laughing! I gave up and just laid back and floated for a while. We didn’t stay in the water long, it was very hot and the sun was beating down on us. With blood pouring down my knee we made our way to the openair showers to clean up. The gift shop had bandages for my knee and Jacob used his army medic experience to bandage me up. No one there seemed to know about these sinkholes. I was okay with just a few scrapes but for a child or frail guests, it could be dangerous. Please be careful there! We had a quiet drive back to Ashdod. The late afternoon sun had the rocks and sand of the desert glowing in with pale red highlights. It was beautiful. The guards at the Port Gate collected our Entry Cards and we, tired but happy, went back onboard.

 

We were in Jerusalem on a Friday, most sites and shops close down in the afternoon for the Sabbath. If this were not the case, we could have easily spent the entire day in there. We got in a lot of the major sites but is was all in a rush. A liesurely day with breaks to compensate for the heat would have made it a better touring day. I don’t regret going to the Dead Sea. Even with my injuries I look back to it as being an fascinating, once-in-a-lifetime experience.

 

It was an incredible experience to walk through the showplaces of the bible. I didn't realize how small Israel is (about the size of New Jersey). Since our tour had the christian theme, it was easy to do 2 seperate day tours (Galilean Ministry and Jerusalem/Dead Sea) and overnight onboard ship. For those of you considering doing an overnight is Jerusalem, it wouldn't be a problem to drive there from Haifa and enjoy 2 days there. You could easily spend 2 days in Jerusalem and still not see everything! I would highly recommend a private tour here. Fellow cruisers that did ships tours saw much less than we did and IMHO large groups and heat don’t mix well.

No matter how you do it remember to drink lots of water! We were there early May and the heat was taxing. I am sure that later in the season it will be worse. We exchanged about 100$ for the two days for entry fees, small gifts and meals.

 

I hope this info helps you plan your trip!

Happy Cruising!

Edited by LauraS

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Thank you Kathleen! Your comments were most helpful!

MSK1

 

 

Hello, I just want to know if cruisers need to get a visa. Sorry, I haven't exhausted my reasearch so I just want to know. Thank you.

 

Froogal

Edited by Froogal

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Hello, I just want to know if cruisers need to get a visa. Sorry, I haven't exhausted my reasearch so I just want to know. Thank you.

 

Froogal

no!

The visa is isued on arrival.

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Kathleen,

Thanks for your thorough discussion of Guided Tours Israel, especialy the remarks about the Dead Sea visit. This will be a of great benefit for our trip planning!

 

MSK1

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Hi MSK1,

No matter how you do it remember to drink lots of water! We were there early May and the heat was taxing. I am sure that later in the season it will be worse. We exchanged about 100$ for the two days for entry fees, small gifts and meals.

 

I hope this info helps you plan your trip!

Happy Cruising!

 

Thanks for the info, the toilet information was useful to know. We've also booked GTI for our cruise in July, for 2 days. Were the entry fees not included in the cost of the tours? I assumed they were. What did you pay extra for? Glad you enjoyed your trip hope ours goes as well.

 

Babs

 

Crown Princess June 2007

Navigator of the Seas February 2008

Emerald Princess August 2008

Grand Princess May 2009

 

upcoming Pacific Princess July 2010

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Thanks for a great report. We are going to be in Israel in October, in Ashdod on a Sunday and Haifa on a Monday. We are planning a similar itinerary. Can you give me an idea of the cost? We have a group of 6 or perhaps 8.

 

Thank you so much.

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Just returned from the May 29th Cruise to Israel. My husband and I used GTI and were most impressed. We had a deviation in our schedule due to the events in Ashdod. We skipped the port and docked two days in Haifa. Our tour started from here and returned. We overnighted in Jerusalem. You should have no hesitation in booking with Alon and GTI. Entry fees were not included. FYI, don't miss Masada and a dip in the Dead Sea. Also an overnight at the King David is a wonderful treat. If you have an Amx Platinum Card and book through them, dinner and breakfast are included. Wonderful views of the old city from their patio. (and from our room) I always feel that historical hotels are also part of a touring adventure.

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My friends and I will be in Israel in Oct. for two days. We have been doing a lot of research via the CC boards re: private guides to hire (we do not want to take ship excursions). The CC boards have been very helpful and we have been in touch with several guides re: availability & prices, etc. One of the guides has asked that we send a check (now) for 10% of the tour cost -- and then a month before the trip, another 20% deposit. Does this sound right?? For those that used private guides or companies, do they require a deposit right up front? And, what about cancellation policies e.g. if the ship does not dock in the ports as planned... refunds??

I think this particular guide is charging $500 per day for 4 or 6 of us. We are not staying overnight .. they are picking us up each day in a different port.

Any info you can give us re: the deposits would be most helpful.

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My friends and I will be in Israel in Oct. for two days. We have been doing a lot of research via the CC boards re: private guides to hire (we do not want to take ship excursions). The CC boards have been very helpful and we have been in touch with several guides re: availability & prices, etc. One of the guides has asked that we send a check (now) for 10% of the tour cost -- and then a month before the trip, another 20% deposit. Does this sound right?? For those that used private guides or companies, do they require a deposit right up front? And, what about cancellation policies e.g. if the ship does not dock in the ports as planned... refunds??

I think this particular guide is charging $500 per day for 4 or 6 of us. We are not staying overnight .. they are picking us up each day in a different port.

Any info you can give us re: the deposits would be most helpful.

 

We will be in Haifa/Ashdod in October as well. Our CC roll call has hired GTI for a variety of tours and there is no requirement for any upfront money. We did discover that the private tours/guides charged quite a bit more then GTI because they have to rent a car, gas, etc. I would be nervous about upfront money since what happens if the guide does not show up or the ship misses the point. There are alot of Israeli guides listed in CC and tripadvisor.com so take your time and find someone who does not require upfront money.

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My friends and I will be in Israel in Oct. for two days. We have been doing a lot of research via the CC boards re: private guides to hire (we do not want to take ship excursions). The CC boards have been very helpful and we have been in touch with several guides re: availability & prices, etc. One of the guides has asked that we send a check (now) for 10% of the tour cost -- and then a month before the trip, another 20% deposit. Does this sound right?? For those that used private guides or companies, do they require a deposit right up front? And, what about cancellation policies e.g. if the ship does not dock in the ports as planned... refunds??

I think this particular guide is charging $500 per day for 4 or 6 of us. We are not staying overnight .. they are picking us up each day in a different port.

Any info you can give us re: the deposits would be most helpful.

 

I have booked tours with a private guide for late September. He requested a CC# to reserve but payment is not due until the tour is given. Also, I spoke with a couple of reputable guides and most have a policy that if your ship is unable to make port for any reason, you are not charged for the tour. It's always a good idea to ask this kind of question, though.

 

BTW, the prices for 2 one-day tours are in line with what you were quoted.

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During our (christian based) tours in Israel we only had entrance fees in Capernaum archeological site, small parking fees (minimal, easily covered by the coins we all pulled out of our pockets) and at the Dead Sea beach area (which we ended up getting for free because we had lunch at the Kibbutz that owned the beach facility). Our guide got free parking in Jerusalem, otherwise the parking garage would have cost extra. All the other sites we visited were open to the public, no entrance fees required. The gift shop at Yardinit baptismal site accepted dollars (www.yardenit.com) and had a nice selection of gift items (the honey products could be sampled and seemed to be very popular). They have an online shop so you can see their selection and compare prices before you get there. Rolf and I had exchanged 100$ for both days of touring for lunch, entrance fees and small gifts.

 

The cost of the tours depends on how many are in the group and what you plan to do and see. Our tour of Jesus' ministry in Galilee from Haifa (May 2010) was 99$ per person for our group of 6 and 135$ pp for the second days tour out of Ashdod of Jerusalem and the Dead Sea. GTI did require a credit card number to secure the tour but this wasn't a problem, my card wasn't charged. No deposit was required. Our guide collected the tour fee in cash each touring day. This seems to be the common practice. It was the same with the other private tour companies I have used in Russia, England, Italy, France, Greece, Turkey, Egypt and now Israel. Some have required a credit card to secure the tour but a deposit has never been requested.

 

We were pleased with our tour/guide/pricing. We were out and about for 8-9 hours each day. The mercedes van was our guide's private vehicle. It was new, air-conditioned and comfortable for our group of 6 (we switched off with three persons in the back seat, two in the middle in seperate seats and one in the front next to our driver/guide). There were other vans awaiting passengers for private tours and ours was one of the nicest.

 

Israel is small, only about the size of New Jersey. There is lots to see and do in there, alternative arrangements can easily be made when you have a private tour. Our guide made a few suggestions after picking us up in Haifa to change the tour, we ended up doing some completely different things that we had originally planned (and had a great day and saw an amazing amout of sites, way more than any ship tour had!) An interesting tour option: a group from our ship left the ship in Haifa, toured Masada/ Dead Sea overnighting at a Dead Sea Resort and then toured Jerusalem the next day and picked the ship back up in Ashdod that evening. Other fellow cruisers overnited in Jerusalem which was reported to be a wonderful experience but beware -the hotel prices in Jerusalem are sky high. We did two seperate day tours and slept at home on the Azamara Quest!

 

Cancellation policies differ from company to company and are subject to change. It is probably best to question the policy in advance when booking any private tour.

 

Happy cruising everyone!

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Thank you, Kathleen. I do appreciate your prompt reply and comments.

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Thanks so much for your well-written, detailed report. It will help us tremendously in our planning of our one day port excursion from Ashdod in December.

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Thanks for a great report. We are going to be in Israel in October, in Ashdod on a Sunday and Haifa on a Monday. We are planning a similar itinerary. Can you give me an idea of the cost? We have a group of 6 or perhaps 8.

 

Thank you so much.

 

GTI is all booked up as of 7/1/10 for Oct. 18th itinerary on Celebrity.

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hello everyone!

just joined and have found your info very helpful!

i have already contacted Ramses to visit Cairo and will write to GTI for Isreal.

another question : if we want to spend more time in Cairo, does anybody know if it is easy to travel on our own from Port Saïd to Cairo?

Edited by lagrandevoyageuse

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hello everyone!

just joined and have found your info very helpful!

i have already contacted Ramses to visit Cairo and will write to GTI for Isreal.

another question : if we want to spend more time in Cairo, does anybody know if it is easy to travel on our own from Port Saïd to Cairo?

 

I do not know the answer but if you go to tripadvisor.com then cairo there is probably a travel expert that will give you good advice - they always help me. It is my understanding that Ramses will adjust your tour to fit your needs so you might ask them specific questions.

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hello everyone!

just joined and have found your info very helpful!

i have already contacted Ramses to visit Cairo and will write to GTI for Isreal. another question : if we want to spend more time in Cairo, does anybody know if it is easy to travel on our own from Port Saïd to Cairo?

 

Both buses and trains travel between Port Said and Cairo, however my husband travels the route by cab, and suggests you check into doing so. He doesn't know the cost as his fare is always pre-paid by his company, but, as taxis in Egypt are not expensive, he thinks the fare will be reasonable.

 

Travel time by car is about 2 1/2 hours; by bus about 3; by train around 4-5 hours, assuming you get an express train. One thing my DH highly cautions about, is if you decide to take a train, only travel via first class- he's been on trains in Egypt, and laughingly said you do not want to travel in anything but first class!

 

As lcumpire suggests, since you are already using Ramses, your first step should be to contact them. Even if you don't want to adjust or extend your tour with them, they may be willing to either provide you with comfortable transportation between the two cities, or else arrange for a taxi for you. BTW, most likely the taxi will only Egyptian pounds as payment, so make sure you are prepared.

 

HTH!

 

Ruth

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I have booked numerous tours all over the world and I'm now trying to book with GTI using e-mail. For some reason I can't. Spam or something like that. I have no problem with anybody else. Any ideas?

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I have booked numerous tours all over the world and I'm now trying to book with GTI using e-mail. For some reason I can't. Spam or something like that. I have no problem with anybody else. Any ideas?

 

Try the following emails. They have been most responsive for us!

MSK

 

 

Guided Tours Israel

Top-Day-Tours Group

www.GuidedToursIsrael.com

Top Quality Tours in the Land of Israel

Email: info@guidedtoursisrael.com

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We just returned last evening from the Mediterranean and used Guided Tours Israel in both Ashdod and Port Said. Different guide in each port and both were great!!

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