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Island Princess to Jerusalem?


Cruiserkenn
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I have always wanted to visit Jerusalem and Israel, via a cruise.  In Nov., 2021, Island Princess is scheduled to visit Jerusalem on a cruise that also visits the Greek Isles and some other Med ports.

 

Of course, as luck would have it, we now have Covid 19, not to mention recent EU rulings concerning Americans, and other proposed regulations.

 

I would love to hear anyone's experiences on Holy Land cruises.  I would also love to hear any speculation about whether this cruise will eventually go for Americans, or not.

Any thoughts on the Island Princess would also be welcome.  (I know that the Island was renovated, in an unfavorable way.  Would it still be OK if it is my only way to go on a Holy Land cruise?)

 

Thanks in advance, all.  Shalom!

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Visited israel on a cruise 4 years ago.  Toured Jerusalem, the Wall, a kibbutz, etc.  Horrible experience.  Crowded, guns/security everywhere, police state at its best, to include a group of "policemen" beating an unarmed man near the stations of the cross.  Stay away!

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39 minutes ago, Ride-The-Waves said:

Visited israel on a cruise 4 years ago.  Toured Jerusalem, the Wall, a kibbutz, etc.  Horrible experience.  Crowded, guns/security everywhere, police state at its best, to include a group of "policemen" beating an unarmed man near the stations of the cross.  Stay away!

I'll decide .

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I loved my 2 visits to Israel but did not do it on a cruise. Its completely safe IMHO. Rented a room in a B&B and stayed a month. 

 

If you get to:

 ♤Haifa - Bahai is a must IMHO

♡ Jerusalem - walk the top of the wall. Really interesting to look into the yards and see how Arabs / Armenians / Jews / Christians live

◇ Acco - ruins

♧ Rosh HaNikra grottoes - amazing 

☆ Petra - that's in Jordan but a number of companies run 3 day excursions

 

I will go back for another month when this is over (FWIW thats how I also visit France / UK / Belgium ..... 3-4 weeks at a time basing myself in 1 city)

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A few people from my family went in December, not on a cruise. They did not feel safe but did enjoy visiting the holy Islamic sites. It was part of a bigger trip which included Turkey and India and I think they were in Israel for 4 days.


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6 minutes ago, Ombud said:

I loved my 2 visits to Israel but did not do it on a cruise. Its completely safe IMHO. Rented a room in a B&B and stayed a month. 

 

If you get to:

 ♤Haifa - Bahai is a must IMHO

♡ Jerusalem - walk the top of the wall. Really interesting to look into the yards and see how Arabs / Armenians / Jews / Christians live

◇ Acco - ruins

♧ Rosh HaNikra grottoes - amazing 

☆ Petra - that's in Jordan but a number of companies run 3 day excursions

 

I will go back for another month when this is over (FWIW thats how I also visit France / UK / Belgium ..... 3-4 weeks at a time basing myself in 1 city)

 

Thanks for sharing your interesting perspective!

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5 minutes ago, KarimaJ said:

A few people from my family went in December, not on a cruise. They did not feel safe but did enjoy visiting the holy Islamic sites. It was part of a bigger trip which included Turkey and India and I think they were in Israel for 4 days.


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Must have been interesting.  Thanks!

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39 minutes ago, frugaltravel said:

I can't imagine visiting for only a portion of a day. But then that's just me.

 

39 minutes ago, frugaltravel said:

I can't imagine visiting for only a portion of a day. But then that's just me.

 

OK what's your alternative?

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3 hours ago, Cruiserkenn said:

I have always wanted to visit Jerusalem and Israel, via a cruise.  In Nov., 2021, Island Princess is scheduled to visit Jerusalem on a cruise that also visits the Greek Isles and some other Med ports.

 

Of course, as luck would have it, we now have Covid 19, not to mention recent EU rulings concerning Americans, and other proposed regulations.

 

I would love to hear anyone's experiences on Holy Land cruises.  I would also love to hear any speculation about whether this cruise will eventually go for Americans, or not.

Any thoughts on the Island Princess would also be welcome.  (I know that the Island was renovated, in an unfavorable way.  Would it still be OK if it is my only way to go on a Holy Land cruise?)

 

Thanks in advance, all.  Shalom!

Personally, I'd opt for a land trip, but if that's not doable, then a cruise is a great taster visit..you obviously won't see anywhere near as much, but then - you know that, so it's all good.

 

As for whether it would go for Americans (or any others) in 16 months - who in the world could possibly know? The EU ban will be revised every two weeks - if the US gets their infection rates, etc under control (and probably when they also remove their ban on Schengen/UK travel ) then the EU/Schengen will almost certainly remove theirs.. it's not a permanent thing, at least not yet. If the US doesn't get it under control, or doesn't remove their ban, then all bets are off. 

 

If that's the cruise you want to do, out down your deposit and go for it. It's 16+ months away - the world will look very very different then, than it does now.  And absolutely no one can predict what that may look like.. 

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5 hours ago, Cruiserkenn said:

I have always wanted to visit Jerusalem and Israel, via a cruise.  In Nov., 2021, Island Princess is scheduled to visit Jerusalem on a cruise that also visits the Greek Isles and some other Med ports.

 

Of course, as luck would have it, we now have Covid 19, not to mention recent EU rulings concerning Americans, and other proposed regulations.

 

I would love to hear anyone's experiences on Holy Land cruises.  I would also love to hear any speculation about whether this cruise will eventually go for Americans, or not.

Any thoughts on the Island Princess would also be welcome.  (I know that the Island was renovated, in an unfavorable way.  Would it still be OK if it is my only way to go on a Holy Land cruise?)

 

Thanks in advance, all.  Shalom!

We were scheduled to do the Nov 2020 Israel cruise  on the Island Princess  for our chance to get to Israel. Already had two private tours booked (no deposits required).  When Princess cancelled the cruise we went ahead and booked the Island Princess for Nov and Dec 2021.  We were able to book the same two private tours in Israel for 2021.  Ideal way to visit Israel would be a land tour but not an option so this cruise will give us a "taste".  I'm hoping that by next Nov things have improved so that this cruise will be able to go.  

 

Had friends spend a week in Israel in 2019 and they never felt unsafe and really enjoyed the tour.

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4 hours ago, Ride-The-Waves said:

Visited israel on a cruise 4 years ago.  Toured Jerusalem, the Wall, a kibbutz, etc.  Horrible experience.  Crowded, guns/security everywhere, police state at its best, to include a group of "policemen" beating an unarmed man near the stations of the cross.  Stay away!

We came into Eilat on Azamara Journey with mostly Americans embarked - about 500 total passengers.  Official ship's tours only permitted in Israel.  Special "tourist cards" required.  A woman friend, retired librarian from central California, we had traveled with through India was pulled aside and grilled by Israeli security.  Travel between Eilat and Jerusalem required several stops for security checks to insure we were not carrying Jordanians.  Israel military in many locations.  They literal "comb" the sands on the sides of the roads so that footprints can be more easily seen.  At one security stop the Israel bus guide/monitor - essentially making sure we didn't misbehave - brought a young Israeli female soldier on board to show off their women soldiers.  While in Jerusalem everything was "controlled" by the guide.  The collective meal in a kibbutz was good and the highlight of the trip.  Everything else was over controlled and the historic places were much smaller than expected.  Never returning.  The Israeli's would not permit tours into Jordan for Petra or Wadi Rum from Eilat so the ship crossed over to Aqaba so we could visit those locations.  Petra was fascinating - and hot, so try to plan for an AM visit.  One couple knew this and traveled to Petra in the evening to get an early start.  Wadi Rum is not to be missed - wonderful experience.  Vast difference between the Jordanian guides and their Israel counterparts.  Jordanians being much more friendly, ongoing and informative.  Maybe because the Israeli "guides" were actually Israeli security/MOSAD.

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You do not say whether you're looking at the November 8 or 22 sailing, but both feature two stops in Israel, one at Ashdod (usually used for Jerusalem) and one at Haifa, which can be used for travel to other spots depending on your interests. Sometimes the cruise line will offer a tour with an overnight off ship that will enable a few more "visits" to places, but these tend to be hugely expensive.

 

I have visited Israel twice on cruises (similar to this) and also on a land tour. I would go back in a second and did not feel unsafe. If you really want to see Israel and this is your best option, then go for it -- although if it were me, I'd look for a ship that offers one additional day, if possible. (Some ships overnight in Haifa and thus offer 2 days from Haifa and one from Ashdod). Aside from that caveat it looks like a quite nice itinerary. For someone like me who is interested in ancient sites, it visits quite a few of the most important ones in the Med.

 

Also, and I hate to bring this up, the cruise lines are very risk-averse about stops in Israel. If there is ANY significant dust-up at the time close to your cruise, you could find your stops canceled. It has happened a number of times, with almost all the cruise lines, in the years I've been on Cruise Critic. Those who booked with the sole objective of getting to Israel have been massively disappointed, but the cruise lines will not offer you remuneration for the change in itinerary. If you can live with that and are interested in the other stops, then go for it.

 

Don't give too much credence to those with strident remarks one way or the other. Israel should be experienced. Get there if you can. 

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I have family in Israel and have been there several times but never on a cruise. We have traveled with a guide one on one as well as traveling with our own rental car even in parts of the West Bank.  Have never felt unsafe anywhere however as with so many places in the world you always need to be aware of what is going on around you. Yes there are many checkpoints but issues to deal with but so worth it. The last time we were there you were permitted to to up to the Al Aksa Mosque from the Wall to walk around the outside as not permitted in the mosque itself although we were able to visit other mosques in other areas of the country. My husband was wearing shorts which were not permitted even to walk around outside and the Jordanian guards wanted to "sell him" a shawl to wear around his legs but conveniently he had long pants in his backpack as we were leaving for the airport for an 11 PM flight later that day. The guard took him around to another area and watched him put on his pants over his shorts. In some of the synagogues in Safat you need to have your arms covered with either a cardigan or they will give you a shawl to wear while inside. If there on your own you will need to make reservations for English tours at the museums such as Museum of the Diaspara, Menahem Begin and so on. Hotel concierges are very helpful with all of these arrangements.

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1 hour ago, cruisemom42 said:

You do not say whether you're looking at the November 8 or 22 sailing, but both feature two stops in Israel, one at Ashdod (usually used for Jerusalem) and one at Haifa, which can be used for travel to other spots depending on your interests. Sometimes the cruise line will offer a tour with an overnight off ship that will enable a few more "visits" to places, but these tend to be hugely expensive.

 

I have visited Israel twice on cruises (similar to this) and also on a land tour. I would go back in a second and did not feel unsafe. If you really want to see Israel and this is your best option, then go for it -- although if it were me, I'd look for a ship that offers one additional day, if possible. (Some ships overnight in Haifa and thus offer 2 days from Haifa and one from Ashdod). Aside from that caveat it looks like a quite nice itinerary. For someone like me who is interested in ancient sites, it visits quite a few of the most important ones in the Med.

 

Also, and I hate to bring this up, the cruise lines are very risk-averse about stops in Israel. If there is ANY significant dust-up at the time close to your cruise, you could find your stops canceled. It has happened a number of times, with almost all the cruise lines, in the years I've been on Cruise Critic. Those who booked with the sole objective of getting to Israel have been massively disappointed, but the cruise lines will not offer you remuneration for the change in itinerary. If you can live with that and are interested in the other stops, then go for it.

 

Don't give too much credence to those with strident remarks one way or the other. Israel should be experienced. Get there if you can. 

 

I would probably choose the Nov. 8 sailing, in order to get home before winter sets in for real, here in Chicago.️   Thanks for your good thought experiencing Israel.

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We love cruising. But for Israel we took a motorcoach tour through a well known travel company. Not sure if allowed to mention company name. It was fantastic. There is SO much to see in that area. We felt very safe. I'd love to do it again.

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I think you can name the company you toured with.  I would like to  know.  We were booked on the Island for Nov 20 and have now rebooked on Royal Caribbean for Sept 21.  I prefer Princess but RC was 1/2 the price although 2 days shorter.  We are also considering doing it by bus tour, just want a tour that is not too intensive.  We are senior seniors and enjoy a relaxed pace.

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I have not visited the Holy Land on a cruise, but on a land-based three week visit.  I don't think I'd do it by cruise because (1) each port visit is too short and (2) ships' itineraries are not written in stone.

 

Our tour was done through Hadassah, and it was very well planned and executed.  Lots of old Jewish yentas, but that was to be expected on a Hadassah tour.  I felt safe the entire trip, despite (or because of) soldiers and police with military weapons.  Very pro-American.

 

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We visited Israel with another cruise line three years ago. The ship spent one day at the port of Haifa and two at the port of Ashdod (for Jerusalem).

 

Six of us used a private guide for all three days. At no time did we feel we were in any danger, but of course that was three years ago.

 

After the day touring from Haifa, we returned to the ship to be picked up the next morning in Ashdod.

 

Since we were there for two days for Jerusalem and the port is a couple of hours away, we spent the night at a reasonably priced hotel in Jerusalem to allow much more time for sightseeing.

 

Did we see everything there was to see in the area in those three days? Of course not. But we did see quite a bit (even a chance to float in the Dead Sea) and had a great experience.

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We visited Israel for two weeks in 2015 on a tour with our temple and felt perfectly safe.

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Our tour included dinner with Israel troops at an Israel Army base.

The twenty something base commander told us that we were safer in Israel than we were back hone in the US

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Our tour bus made a stop near the Syrian border and we could see the lights of a nearby village in Syria.

Strongly recommend taking a tour as there is so much history there.

We had a great time and if taking a trip outside the US that is the one safe place to go.

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Howard

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13 hours ago, mustgo said:

I think you can name the company you toured with.  I would like to  know.  We were booked on the Island for Nov 20 and have now rebooked on Royal Caribbean for Sept 21.  I prefer Princess but RC was 1/2 the price although 2 days shorter.  We are also considering doing it by bus tour, just want a tour that is not too intensive.  We are senior seniors and enjoy a relaxed pace.

We toured with Trafalgar. Nothing but praise for them. 

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