Tour Guide Israel – Cruise Ships Excursions from Ashdod and Haifa

 

Tour Guide Israel

A Personal Note ship2Even though I take pride in not selling ready-made packages, daily excursions for ship cruises do not allow too many different combinations in choosing where to go. A point to ponderfrom my personal experience both as a traveler and a guide – having limited time on our hands, we often try to grab too much, try not to miss anything. This ends up with a very shallow tour and a lot of un-necessary driving or walking. Places that you miss this time will still be there next time. A one-day-tour should focus on a small geographical area visiting a fair amount of sights in depth, a scenic route and a few vistas. My object is to provide you, the one-day-tourist, the maximum sightseeing I can do in the 8-12 hours that your ship is in port without turning the tour into a whirlwind. I promise to be your “slave-driver” and I am sure that it will be a great experience. The physical stress of the tour is adaptable to your needs or requests. Please do not hesitate to ask for a less strenuous tour – you want to enjoy yourself and not to get back all worn out. Please note: at the bottom of this page I have included the driving times from the ports to each area and the information I need to plan your tour. I hope you will enjoy the selection of one-day trips that I have put together for you to choose from. ship3

Suggested itineraries from Ashdod Port:

  Tour No. 11 – Jerusalem – City of Gold – Christian, Jewish, Muslim or of other faiths, there is no way to resist the majesty and beauty of this city.

  • View the Old City from the heights of the Mount of Olives and spend a few moments of silence in the Church of the Garden of Gethsemane.
  • View Mount Moriah and the Dome of the Rock – where Abraham brought Isaac to be sacrificed; where the Holy of Holies of the Jewish Temple stood; where Jesus overturned the stalls of the merchants; where later, it is believed, that the Prophet Muhammad stood before ascending to heaven.
  • Walk up to the Western Wailing Wall and write your personal prayer or request.
  • Walk along the Via Dolorosa, seeing some of the Stations of the Cross, to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher where Jesus was crucified and buried.
  • Walk through the Jewish Quarter and see the excavations from the Israelite Kings and the Roman periods, the gates and walls built by King Herod and the Turkish Sultan Suleiman.
  • View the ancient steps which all pilgrims climbed to enter the Temple.
  • Walk thru the alleys, feel the atmosphere and smell the aromas of the Arab markets.
  • If time allows visit King David’s Tomb and the Room of the Last Supper.
  • Bethlehem can be added to the day in place of two to three of the other main sights.

This day can be changed to become more Jewish or Christian should that be your interest.

 

Tour No. 12 – The Dead Sea area – Travel thru the 400-meter-below sea level Jordan Valley and see what the modern Israeli agriculture has done to the desert. Visit Kumeran where 2000 years ago the “monks” of the Essene sect wrote and later hid the Dead Sea Scrolls. Tour Massada, a massive table-mountain that King Herod the Great used as his mountain retreat. See his palaces, baths, pools, synagogue, store rooms and fortifications. Hear how later the Sicarii zealots defied the Roman siege. On the way see the Inn of the Good Samaritan. Cross the plains of Jericho where Joshua marched, where Elijah ascended to Heaven in his fiery chariot and where John the Baptist roamed. End the day with a swim in the Dead Sea at a beach-spa.


 Tour No. 13 – The Northern Negev Desert – 3 of the following – the Maresha/Beit Guvrin (Greek era) archaeological park, the Joe Alon Center for Bedouin Heritage (how Abraham lived), Tel Sheva (the Israelite King’s-period town), the Israel Air Force Museum.


Tour No. 14 – The Central Plain – “Israel’s secret weapons” – the conservation of an early Kibbutz at Ein Shemer, the Laterun Armoured Corps museum and memorial, the “Bakery” (a secret 1946-8 underground arms factory) and the 1948 battle area for the supply of Jerusalem (Bab-el-Wad and the Burma road).


Tour No. 15 – A Wine Tasting Tour – see the lower part of the page of MY Favourite Tours. Each tour is unique and needs to be planned separately.


Tour No. 16 – A taste of Jerusalem and a swim in the Dead Sea – Travel thru the 400-meter-below sea level Jordan Valley and see what the modern Israeli agriculture has done to the desert. Cross the plains of Jericho where Joshua marched, where Elijah ascended to Heaven in his fiery chariot and where John the Baptist roamed. Then go to a beach on the Northern shore of the Dead Sea and spend 2 hours or so floating on your back and covering yourself with the very healthy mud. Around noon, feeling very fresh, arrive in Jerusalem for a short tour of SOME of the following sights – Mt of Olives vista, Jaffa Gate, the Cardo, the Western Wailing Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulture, the Arab market. This tour is available only during the daylight saving time (April-September) and when the ship docks at 7-8 AM and is in port for the 10 hours or longer. ship1

Suggested itineraries from Haifa Port:

  Tour No. 21 – Jesus in the Galilee – Visit the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth where the Angel Gabriel first appeared to Mother Mary. Travel thru the village of Cana and see the “Wedding” churches. Visit the churches on the sites that He preached – Mount of Beatitudes where He gave the Sermon of the Mount and Tabcha where He fed the multitudes on five loaves and two fish. Tour Capernaum – the village of Jesus with its ancient synagogue and first “praying room. Visit the traditional baptismal site at Yardenit. Travel thru the fields and by the Roman roads where He and his Disciples walked.


Tour No. 22 – The Mystical Galilee of the Jews – Visit Tsippori/Sipporis the capital of the Galilee after the destruction of the Second Temple, and home of the Rabbis who compiled and edited the Talmud and the Mishna. There you will see 2-3 of the most beautiful mosaic floors. Visit Saffed, the Mystical City where the Kabbalah reached the peak of its influence, see the synagogues, the verandah where The “Ari” wrote prayers still used today to welcome the Sabbath, see the graves of the holy people of yesterday, the mountain-view. Walk the artists’ quarter and feel the atmosphere of an ancient and modern holy city. Visit Tiberius, built at the time of King Herod Antipas, later the burial site of Jewish nobles, like Rabbi Moses Maimonides. Visit the 2000 year old mosaic floor of the synagogue. See the mystical Mount Meron and the Sea of Galilee.


Tour No. 23 – The Western Galilee – the exquisite mosaic floors of Tsippori/Sipporis, the undersea grottos at Rosh Hanikra, the ancient Crusader city of Acre/Akko and the vistas of Haifa.


Tour No. 24 – “7000 years of history in one day of archaeology” – Visit Megiddo (Armageddon) and see the 20 or more layers of civilization started here 7000 years ago. Walk in the recently reconstructed center of the Jewish/Roman/Byzantine city of Beit-Shean and see the temples, the Cardo, the fountain and pool, the theater, the amphitheater and the Roman baths. Climb the ramparts of the Crusader fortress of Belvoir and enjoy the view. Travel thru the Jezreel valley where the Israelite Judge Gideon ambushed the Midianites, where the Israelite Judge Deborah brought havoc upon the mighty chariot army of Sisrah, where the Elijah the Prophet clashed with King Ahab and where King Saul and his son Jonathan lost their lives to the Philistines.


Tour No. 25 – The Golan Heights – “The nature of politics or the politics of nature” – view the kibbutzim on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, and see how the members lived under the guns of the Syrians between 1948 -1967. Ascend the Golan Heights to visit Peace Vista and see the view that the Syrian soldiers saw looking down from their emplacements. Tour the 55 by 24 kilometers plateau and view its beautiful landscape, snow covered mountain peaks, flowers, volcanoes, streams and waterfalls, reservoirs, villages, Roman Crusader era ruins and fortresses, agriculture, sheep and cattle, and other nature and geological sights. Visit the ancient town of Katserin and it’s museum. See and hear of the heroic stand and fall of the town of Gamla in 67 BC and of its rediscovery in 1967. See how the people lived during the Talmud era. Visit the “Syrian vista” on the top of the Mount Bental volcano – an Israeli military position, overlooking the Syrian Golan. Learn about the military situation of the area, the strategic importance of the Heights, the disposition of the two armies and the history of the Syrian/Israel conflict. Visit Mount Hermonit and the OZ-77 Yom Kippur War memorial. See the Druze villages, Mount Hermon and the Ram Pool – a volcanic crater.


Tour No. 26 – The Central Coast – see the vistas of Haifa, visit a conservation of an early Kibbutz at Ein Shemer, tour the Roman/Byzantine/Crusader city of Caesarea and visit the Nachsholim archaeological museum (undersea findings) at Tel Dor.


Tour No. 27 – A Wine Tasting Tour – see the lower part of the  page of My Favourite Tours – Wine Tours. Each tour is unique and needs to be planned separately.


Tour No. 28 – The Dead Sea area – (This tour is available only when combined with an overnight in Jerusalem and not as a one-day tour from and back to Haifa – too much travelling time.) Travel thru the 400-meter-below sea level Jordan Valley and see what the modern Israeli agriculture has done to the desert. View the Kumeran cliffs where 2000 years ago the “monks” of the Essene sect wrote and later hid the Dead Sea Scrolls. Visit Massada, a massive table-mountain that King Herod the Great used as his mountain-retreat. See his palaces, baths, pools, synagogue, store rooms and fortifications. Hear how later the Sicarii zealots defied the Roman siege. On the way cross the plains of Jericho where Joshua marched, where Elijah ascended to Heaven in his fiery chariot and where John the Baptist roamed. End the day with a swim in the Dead Sea at a beach-spa.


Tour No. 29 – Jerusalem – City of Gold – Christian, Jewish, Muslim or of other faiths, there is no way to resist the majesty and beauty of this city. (This tour is available only when combined with an overnight in Jerusalem and not as a one-day tour from and back to Haifa – too much travelling time.)

  • View the Old City from the heights of the Mount of Olives and spend a few moments of silence in the Church of the Garden of Gethsemane.
  • View Mount Moriah and the Dome of the Rock – where Abraham brought Isaac to be sacrificed; where the Holy of Holies of the Jewish Temple stood; where Jesus overturned the stalls of the merchants; where later, it is believed, that the Prophet Muhammad stood before ascending to heaven.
  • Walk up to the Western Wailing Wall and write your personal request.
  • Walk along the Via Dolorosa, seeing some of the Stations of the Cross, to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher where Jesus was crucified and buried.
  • Walk through the Jewish Quarter and see the excavations from the Israelite Kings and the Roman periods, the gates and walls built by King Herod and the Turkish Sultan Suleiman.
  • View the ancient steps which all pilgrims climbed to enter the Temple.
  • Walk thru the alleys, feel the atmosphere and smell the aromas of the Arab markets.
  • If time allows visit King David’s Tomb and the Room of the Last Supper.
  • Bethlehem can be added to the day in place of two to three of the other main sights.

This day can be changed to become more Jewish or Christian should that be your interest.

Light lunch at a road side café in Jerusalem
Light lunch at a road side café in Jerusalem

Comments:

  • Tours are available for parties of 1- 10 tourists.
  • All the tour prices include my personal guiding services, the planning, transportation in one of my luxurious and air-conditioned cars (according to the number of people in your group), parking and tolls.
  • All the tours consist of up to 10/11 hours touring between 7AM – 8PM. In the winter the length of the tour will be shorter according to daylight availability.
  • All the tours will stop for a short, light lunch at a roadside café or a local “native” restaurant (not fast-food). The time available is too short for a big meal and the ship serves a large dinner every night.
  • I accept request for 2-3 day ship excursions only 3-4 months in advance. As much as you may want to get your reservations organized as early as possible – I plan my work only for a few months ahead.

Overnight trips:

  • It is possible to stay overnight in Jerusalem or in the north (out of Haifa) and to do something different from the daily routine of the ship.
  • This enables you to do different combinations of tours:
    • Jerusalem and/or the Dead Sea area; and one of the following – the Lower Galilee / the Christian Galilee / the Central Coast / the Central plain / the Northern Negev desert – when staying in Jerusalem.
    • Any combination of the tours from Haifa port – when staying in the north.
  • Some cruises now offer 3 days of shore excursions in Israel – I recommend Jerusalem, the Dead Sea and one of the Galilee tours. I also recommend an overnight in Jerusalem.
  • Hotels need to be priced according to the season and the standard of hotels (how many stars) you want.
  • These overnight trips can include extra sightseeing in the evening and/or dinner at a local “native” restaurant. There will be no added charge for the extra hours. The dinner price is not included. There will be extra charges for my overnight at the hotel if we go out in the evening.
  • The prices of the specific tours may change slightly (up or down) due to driving distances.
  • Bethlehem – Israelis (that’s me) are not allowed to enter Bethlehem. I have a personal arrangement with a local Christian shop-keeper who will pick you up at the security check point and take you on a visit of the Church of Nativity (where his guide will show you around) and then bring you back to the crossing. It is totally safe. “The price” is a visit to his very nice gift shop and a $30-50 (per party) tip to the guide (think of it as an entrance fee). He hopes you will buy something expensive and his goods are of good quality, but you are under no obligation to spend anything there.

 

  • Jericho – same arrangement as Bethlehem (but much more expensive).

  Dress code for the tours:

  • Jerusalem, Jesus in the Galilee and the Mystical Galilee of the Jews – for religious reasons – long pants / below knee-length skirts or dresses and elbow-length shirts or blouses. Also, in Jerusalem and Tsfat it can be chilly in the late afternoon and the evening.
  • The Dead Sea – shorts and T-shirts are very acceptable. Also bring a bathing suit, a towel, shampoo /soap / sunscreen / suntan lotion and scuffs.
  • All the other tours – whatever you feel comfortable in and according to the weather forecast.
  • Don’t forget a hat and comfortable walking shoes.

 

Traveling times by car to the various areas (in hours)

From/To The Golan Haifa The Galilee The Dead Sea Tel Aviv Jerusalem Judean Plateau The Negev Eilat
Tel Aviv 3 1 2-3 2 1 1 2-3 5
Jersalem 3 2 2-3 1 1 1 2-3 4
Haifa 2 1-2 3 1 2 2 3-4 6

 

The information I need in order to plan your tour:

  • The ship’s name.
  • The tour dates and which port the ship will dock on each day.
  • The ship’s schedule for shore excursions (debarkation and embarkation times).
  • How many people will be on the tour.
  • The tours you are interested in doing.
  • Areas of interest and if important – what religion or how religious should the tour be.
  • If important – physical disabilities.
  • Whether you are interested in an overnight in Jerusalem or elsewhere. If yes what standard of hotels (how many ***) do you require and how many rooms?
  • If you have been in Israel before. If yes – where?
  • Special requests.