Visiting The Cruise Ports Of Call In Israel
There are 116 miles of Mediterranean coast in western Israel stretching from Lebanon in the north to the Gaza Strip in the south. The two major ports of call for cruise ships are Ashdod just north of Gaza and Haifa another 70 miles north. Ashdod is within a short drive of Tel Aviv and usually the port for tours to Jerusalem, Bethlehem and surrounding areas while Haifa is near to Acre the stronghold of the Christian Crusaders.
Due to the conflict and the geo-politics involving Israel and the region, security has to be a concern. Israel works very hard at keeping their cities safe providing protection to its visitors and most travel experts strongly recommend traveling in organized tours while visiting.
Where Your Ship Docks – Both of these ports are very similar as far as docking locations and facilities. They are both working industrial ports situated some distance from city centers which makes walking out and access to public transportation difficult or just not an option.
Transportation – Because of the distances involved in traveling from a port it is probably best to consider using the ships tours. There are often drop-off pick-up tours to places like Tel Aviv where you can explore on your own.
Taxis in Israel are common and a good choice in getting around. Israeli taxis by Western standards are inexpensive and are usually readily available, safe with modern cars, and friendly drivers. Within cities, drivers must use the meter unless you agree to a fixed fare and inter-city taxis have fixed fares for specific destinations. Be aware there are surcharges for calling a taxi (5 NIS approx), for luggage (4.6 NIS each). Night rates usually have a 25% surcharge, and there is a starting fare of NIS 11 in cities. There is usually an additional surcharge for Sabbath hours.
Money – 1 US Dollar = 3.42 New Israeli Sheqels. You will need to exchange some currency but major bank credit and debit cards are widely welcome.
What To See and Do:
Ashdod – This port of call is the most convenient for visiting historic Jerusalem and is usually the primary focus of most passengers. There will usually be dozens of tours available to the historic city and its surrounding sites like, Bethlehem, the Dead Sea, Masada and the Jordon Valley.
Less than twenty miles north of the port is Tel Aviv and Jaffa. If you can fit in the time, a day trip up the coast is well worth the effort to see the real Israel. Tel Aviv is a remarkable, modern city with beautiful beaches and incredible skyscrapers. Its wide avenues are lined with shops and parks and outdoor cafes invite sitting and people watching. Jaffa to the south has the character of a beach resort with a number of nice restaurants, a seaside walk and protected harbor. Above Jaffa is a historic neighborhood with art galleries, a beautiful park and views up the coast of Tel Aviv beaches and skyline.
Haifa – The Baha’i Gardens extending from the summit of Mount Carmel along the northwestern slope of the mountain. In total the 19 terraces and more than 1,500 steps drop down towards Haifa port. The Baháʼí Faith is a religion teaching the essential worth of all religions and was established by Baháʼu’lláh in 1863 in Persia.
Twelve miles north of the port is Acre, the fortified town and home to Crusaders fighting to open Jerusalem to Christian pilgrims from the eleventh to sixteenth centuries. Famous for the Siege of Acre, 1189-91 which was the first major battle of the Third Crusade. The siege involved a mixed force of European armies led by Richard the Lionheart of England against the Muslim army of Saladin. A remarkable experience with its passageways and halls. Outside the fort is an interesting marketplace and a protected harbor area.
116 miles of Mediterranean coast in western Israel stretchs from Lebanon in the north to Gaza in the south. The two major ports of call for cruise ships are Ashdod just north of Gaza and Haifa another 70 miles north.