Your time is precious. Rather than joining the standard bus tour (usually a walking tour of the Old City and Bethlehem with 45 other tourists) offered by the cruise company you can make the most of your time in port – arrange your own personalized tour, see the things you’re interested in, at your own pace. Because you will be a smaller group you’ll get to see a lot more, experience the culture, interact with people, eat at local restaurants, etc. It’s your tour!
Last week I picked up a couple from the Oceania cruise line docked at Ashdod (their comment about the tour is below) and here is the itinerary that we accomplished (the sites that we visited that are not on the tour arranged by the cruise ship are in blue):
- drive Ashdod to Jerusalem
- overview of Judean desert from Mount Scopus
- overview of Old City from lookout below 7 Arches hotel
- Gethsemane and Church of the Agony
- Damascus gate/Roman gate
- El Wad street to Via Dolorosa
- Austrian Hostel church
- Lions gate
- Church of Santa Anna, Bethesda Pool [$2. entrance/person]
- Mamluk architecture
- Church of the Flagellation
- Chapel of Judgement/Condemnation , model of Jerusalem
- bought small bag of roasted chickpeas in the pod from a street vendor, in season [$1]
- Ecce Homo arch, on street and in church
- Stations of Via Dolorosa
- Ohel Yitzhak synagogue
- Western Wall
- Lunch in a local restaurant in the Jewish Quarter w. a great view of the Dome of Rock, Al Aqsa mosque and Jewish cemetery on Mt. of Olives - beer on tap was Goldstar, an Israeli beer; next time we can try a microbrewery or taste Israeli wines
- Two synagogues in the Jewish Quarter, ruins of Tiferet Israel and story of the Hurva
- Cardo and wall mural
- Madaba map
- Early northern walls of the city
- Church of the Holy Sepulcher
- David St. to Jaffa gate
- Bethlehem, Church of the Nativity
Rather than do the standard Jerusalem/Bethlehem tour you can do Jerusalem/Qasr el-Yahud, the traditional site in the Jordan River where John baptised Jesus. Another possibility is a tour of the Judean desert, you can include the mosaics at the Inn of the Good Samaritan, the fortress at Masada, the oasis at Ein Gedi and the Dead Sea. You can visit the Israel Museum archaeology wing and then archaeological sites like Qumran or Herodium. You don’t have to hope that the cruise organizers can get an alternative tour together and find the guide who can guide it. You can do a tour focussed on photography. I’ve listed a variety of day tours that are available but with a private tour you can work out whatever itinerary you are interested in, limited by the time available. It’s your tour!
Shopping is completely up to you – if you don’t want to take time out from touring we won’t; if you want time to pick up some gifts or souvenirs, we’ll do that and I’m happy to help you find what you’re looking for. It’s your tour.
I can make all the necessary arrangements so that you can just sit back and enjoy yourself- transportation to and from the port in a comfortable, air-conditioned vehicle, reservations, etc. You pay my agreed on guiding rate irrespective of the number of people on the tour (within reason, just let me know the number of people so I can arrange the appropriate vehicle). In addition each person pays his/her own entrance fees, transportation, lunch and snacks, souvenirs, gratuities. In this way each client controls his/her costs. It’s a great deal so just click to get started. I look forward to guiding you in Israel.