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Jerusalem on Saturday


Marga.Anders
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I am looking at the Holy Land Cruise of RC on September 7th 2021 on Odyssey of the Seas. 

 

It visits Jerusalem. On their own site RC noted that a visit on Saturday would mean Sabbath in Jerusalem and most things closed.  Much to my surprise the itinerary is planned in such a way that exactly on Saturday the ships goes to Jerusalem. 

 

Don't understand why they would do this but curious to your experiences with this cruise and/or visiting Jerusalem on a Saturday. 

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We agree with the thoughts of the OP.  Over the years we have seen many cruises when the timing of a visit to certain ports was very unfortunate in terms of tourism.  Consider that many cruises will have you going to Rome on a Sunday when the Vatican Musuems are closed (except for one Sunday per month).  We have also seen cruises going to Istanbul on the day when Topkapi was closed.   The reality of traveling in Europe is that Sundays and Monday mornings will often find many closures.  In Muslim countries you might have closure issues on Fridays.    We also heard a lady lose her cool (and scream at a Guest Relations rep) because she was on a ship that was docked in Antigua on a Sunday when most of the stores were closed.  I guess it never occurred to her that it was her decision to book that particular cruise.  Another calendar problem can be trying to rent a car on Sundays in certain ports (especially France and Italy).

 

My advice to the OP is to simply choose a different date for your cruise or even a different cruise line (if necessary to avoid Israel on the Sabbath).   There are plenty of cruses that go to the Holy land...so choose one that works best with the calendar.

 

Hank

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1 hour ago, Marga.Anders said:

visiting Jerusalem on a Saturday. 

Shabbat is observed from a few minutes before sunset on Friday evening until sundown on Saturday night (the appearance of three stars in the sky). We stocked up on items for our apartment as everything near us was closed (from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday). 

Choose a cruise that doesn't visit Israel on Shabbat. I would also recommend that you check the dates of Jewish holidays for any proposed cruise visit as everything will be closed on these days as well.

Edited by dogs4fun
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As with most things, the devil is in the details....

 

In Jerusalem especially (more than most places in Israel), the Shabbat is more widely observed. Does that mean everything is closed? Not necessarily. Does it make things more difficult? Certainly, but it is more of a problem for individual travelers than for large ship-sponsored tours.

 

As a tourist on your own it is hard to get around on the Shabbat -- public transportation does not operate, and there are fewer taxis available. Many (or in some areas most) restaurants, shops, and other businesses are closed. However, if you are on a shore excursion where your transportation and meals are looked after, it would still be possible to have a worthwhile visit to Jerusalem, depending on what you want to see and do. (Edited to add: this would also hold true for private tours, assuming the operators, as are willing to operate on the Shabbat...)

 

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is open on Saturdays. The Israel Museum (which houses the Dead Sea Scrolls among many other cultural/historical artifacts) is open, although the Yad Vashem (Holocaust memorial) museum is closed. You are free to walk around the Old City, see the Western Wall and the Via Dolorosa; in fact, most churches will also be open.  The Jewish Quarter sites will be closed, such as the City of David.  There is likely to be less traffic than on a normal day, so walking would actually be more pleasant.

 

 

 

 

Edited by cruisemom42
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Contact a private tour company such as Guided Tours Israel and ask them how their trips might be modified. This is something you can't really do with a ship tour. Like was mentioned, I imagine many, but not all, of the places you want to visit will be open.

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As usual, another outstanding post by cruisermom42. 

We have visited Jerusalem with a Jewish group and a Christian group.

You can still have a truly wonderful excursion in Jerusalem during Shabbat...so much to see and visit.

As cruisermom42 stated...walking for us was more pleasant...less crowded during Shabbat.

 

Note: Smiling...funny story after our visit to Jerusalem.  Back onboard, we were at Guest Services and overheard another passenger complaining loudly.  "You need to give me my money back from our shore excursion in Jerusalem!!!"...then she said "Our tour guide was horrible!...we were rushed, it was raining........and I only saw 3 of the Stations of the Cross!"         

(We've heard many complaints...but this one beats them all.) 😊

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40 minutes ago, cruisemom42 said:

As with most things, the devil is in the details....

True ...

Not all places observe Shabbat equally - we found Jerusalem the most dedicated in Shabbat and holiday observances. We elected to visit Masada & the Dead Sea on one of our Saturdays - Caesarea on another. 

All the restaurants near our Jerusalem hotel were closed - even McDonald's. As mentioned above, public transportation was a no go. We also rented an apartment (gorgeous Med views) in Ashdod - same problem with nearby shops/restaurants closed (there were a few non kosher restaurants open but they were too far away for us to comfortably reach via foot).

Since we were both times land tourists, I can't comment on what may or may not be available on cruise sponsored tours but given the choice, I would avoid cruises that visit Israel during Shabbat. jmho

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Cruisemom speaketh the truth...

 

On my visits to Israel with my now-ex (he went there on business), his "days off" were Friday and Saturday.  Somehow, we always ended up visiting Jerusalem on Saturdays.  The Old City behind the walls always were bustling with people.  I never did want to go down to the "Wailing Wall", but preferred to observe from above - I just felt like I was infringing on the worship of those at the Wall.  We walked the Via Dolorosa and visited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (Easter Saturday!!!).  Two things did bring into sharp focus that Saturdays were "special":  Walking toward the Mosque in the late afternoon, a very nice man gestured to us that we should turn around and not go further - it was prayer time.  We thanked him and left.   The other time - we always drive where we go.  My ex got a little mixed up on where to get back on the main road back to Tel Aviv and ended up in a neighborhood where many were out walking, men in the traditional Black & White.  We got some very nasty looks and at one point, I did feel a little uncomfortable.  We got out of there FAST.  (pre-GPS and Google Maps).   

 

One of my favorite things to do in Israel, is to drive North from Tel Aviv to Cesarea (an ancient Roman seaport), then up to Haifa and over the Carmel mountains to the Carmelite  Monestery at the top with it's wonderful view down into Meggido, then continue down through the Druze villages down to the Coast.  It's a beautiful drive and day trip.

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On 12/30/2019 at 12:13 PM, Hlitner said:

We agree with the thoughts of the OP.  Over the years we have seen many cruises when the timing of a visit to certain ports was very unfortunate in terms of tourism.  Consider that many cruises will have you going to Rome on a Sunday when the Vatican Musuems are closed (except for one Sunday per month).  We have also seen cruises going to Istanbul on the day when Topkapi was closed.   The reality of traveling in Europe is that Sundays and Monday mornings will often find many closures.  In Muslim countries you might have closure issues on Fridays.    We also heard a lady lose her cool (and scream at a Guest Relations rep) because she was on a ship that was docked in Antigua on a Sunday when most of the stores were closed.  I guess it never occurred to her that it was her decision to book that particular cruise.  Another calendar problem can be trying to rent a car on Sundays in certain ports (especially France and Italy).

 

My advice to the OP is to simply choose a different date for your cruise or even a different cruise line (if necessary to avoid Israel on the Sabbath).   There are plenty of cruses that go to the Holy land...so choose one that works best with the calendar.

 

Hank

Agree with this post!  Choose a different date.  I love Jerusalem and you would be missing too much if you limit your visit to the Muslim Quarter in the Old City.

 

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11 minutes ago, kendon said:

Agree with this post!  Choose a different date.  I love Jerusalem and you would be missing too much if you limit your visit to the Muslim Quarter in the Old City.

 

Jerusalem is a very special place and folks have their differing priorities based on their own background.  As an ole Jewish "boy" I was simply blown away by the Wailing Wall and had some difficulty controlling my emotions.  DW, on the other hand, who is a Catholic, did not have a lot of feeling for that wall, but she was blown away when we followed the walk through the Stations of the Cross.   When we took a small group tour over to Bethlehem we were both blown away (in thought, not for real).  Our guide, who we picked up at the entrance to the West Bank was a West Bank Christian who was friends with the curator of the Church of the Nativity.  So when we went inside that structure his friend (who had all the keys) took us into some areas of the facility not normally visited by tourists.  It was all quite surreal and moving.  Bottom line is that we will return (for at least a week).  But the best decision we made in Israel was joining with a few others (thanks to the CC Roll Call) to do 3 day private tour (our guide followed us to the next port).  Driving around in a small mini-bus with only a dozen folks and having a guide who was an ex California resident who emigrated to a Kibbutz in Israel, was too perfect.  If we had been there on the Sabbath it certainly would have crimped our style (and tour).

 

Hank

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2 hours ago, Hlitner said:

Jerusalem is a very special place and folks have their differing priorities based on their own background.  As an ole Jewish "boy" I was simply blown away by the Wailing Wall and had some difficulty controlling my emotions.  DW, on the other hand, who is a Catholic, did not have a lot of feeling for that wall, but she was blown away when we followed the walk through the Stations of the Cross.   When we took a small group tour over to Bethlehem we were both blown away (in thought, not for real).  Our guide, who we picked up at the entrance to the West Bank was a West Bank Christian who was friends with the curator of the Church of the Nativity.  So when we went inside that structure his friend (who had all the keys) took us into some areas of the facility not normally visited by tourists.  It was all quite surreal and moving.  Bottom line is that we will return (for at least a week).  But the best decision we made in Israel was joining with a few others (thanks to the CC Roll Call) to do 3 day private tour (our guide followed us to the next port).  Driving around in a small mini-bus with only a dozen folks and having a guide who was an ex California resident who emigrated to a Kibbutz in Israel, was too perfect.  If we had been there on the Sabbath it certainly would have crimped our style (and tour).

 

Hank

I lived in Israel in the '70s for one year on a kibbutz and went back for three weeks last October.  I can't get enough as I plan on going back this coming October.  I also was in a mini-bus with 9 people and an amazing guide.  A guide with a good plan is essential as there is SO much to see and learn.   This last trip I spent quite a bit of time in Palestine, and one day in the Aida refugee camp.  Glad to hear you did a three day private tour away from the cruise.  Yes, the OP needs to choose another cruise date to get the most out of her itinerary.

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 1/2/2020 at 7:15 PM, Hlitner said:

Jerusalem is a very special place and folks have their differing priorities based on their own background.  As an ole Jewish "boy" I was simply blown away by the Wailing Wall and had some difficulty controlling my emotions.  DW, on the other hand, who is a Catholic, did not have a lot of feeling for that wall, but she was blown away when we followed the walk through the Stations of the Cross.   When we took a small group tour over to Bethlehem we were both blown away (in thought, not for real).  Our guide, who we picked up at the entrance to the West Bank was a West Bank Christian who was friends with the curator of the Church of the Nativity.  So when we went inside that structure his friend (who had all the keys) took us into some areas of the facility not normally visited by tourists.  It was all quite surreal and moving.  Bottom line is that we will return (for at least a week).  But the best decision we made in Israel was joining with a few others (thanks to the CC Roll Call) to do 3 day private tour (our guide followed us to the next port).  Driving around in a small mini-bus with only a dozen folks and having a guide who was an ex California resident who emigrated to a Kibbutz in Israel, was too perfect.  If we had been there on the Sabbath it certainly would have crimped our style (and tour).

 

Hank

We are intersted in doing something similar privater 3 day start in one port finish in another  - would you mind sharing the agency name or a way to contact the tour guide - Thanks

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