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Cruise itineraries including the Holy Land


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We have been researching 2022 cruises on HAL as well as another line. There are a couple itineraries that are of interest to us because they offer some different ports in the mixture from what we have visited in the past. Both of them include two stops in the Holy Land. Given the unpredictable unrest in this part of our world, we are hesitant. Yes, we can remain on board, but we are wondering if there are those who could weigh in on the likelihood of these ports actually occurring, and if they do, what the experience was. Thanks in advance for your feedback. 

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We have done two eastern Med itineraries -- Egypt during Arab spring (for which Ashdod IL and Larnaca CY were substitutes), and Israel (Haifa and Ashdod) for which we were able to disembark. 

 

For Egypt, the substitutes were communicated well in advance, so other than missing Port Said and Alexandria, we were very satisfied w/ the port swaps.  

 

2022 is a long way off. Situation in Israel is always fluid, and with that said, no cruise line is going to risk endangering pax or their asset. Ashdod is easily in rocket range from Gaza, where as Haifa is in range from southern Lebanon.  Counter to that, there are protracted periods of relative calm where it's okay to tour. Security in Israel is both visible and invisible, and omnipresent. You will be interviewed prior to disembarkation at the port for example. You will be profiled.   

 

But, if you're waiting for 'green flag' conditions, I would suggest you'll be waiting a lifetime -- so it really comes down to what your personal risk acceptance levels are. I'm a bit on the adventurous side, last time to Ashdod we took the Egged 448 to Jerusalem, like locals. Sunset sabich and Goldstars outside the Jaffa Gate is worth the trip alone.  Scott.   

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We visited Egypt on HAL seven years ago - first ship allowed into both ports in a long while at that time. I would say it is the only port that we regretted private touring. When your van becomes surrounded by people with guns, and you almost miss the sailing because the port authority wouldn’t release you back to the ship for an hour, it’s a bit stressful. 
We aren’t really checking any of our boxes by visiting Haifa or Ashdod. If we were to do so we would take ship excursions rather than our normal DIY or private  The remainder of the itinerary is what attracts us and there aren’t really any others that are similar. 
I am curious as to what the expected swaps would be should these two ports cancel…..would it likely be Egypt? 
Thank  you for your responses and experiences. I sincerely appreciate your insight. 

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2 hours ago, Vineyard View said:

 I am curious as to what the expected swaps would be should these two ports cancel…..would it likely be Egypt? 

Doubtful? It is quite a haul from Alexandria or Port Said to Giza or Djoser -- 230+ kms each way. Assuming this is a Med-based itin versus a Suez transit, you have sail time / fuel burn to get there, plus additional port dwell to accommodate shorex. If itin changes can be pre-planned, I would be thinking something proximal ?  Limassol CY?  Mersin or Antalya TK?    So many things to consider -- fuel burn, port fees, shorex avail, pax load (ie other ships in port).    If they are cancelled on the fly for something emergent, you might get sea days and a potential re-ordering of your remaining ports ...   but, net net, all of this is conjecture.     Scott.

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53 minutes ago, YXU AC*SE said:

Doubtful? It is quite a haul from Alexandria or Port Said to Giza or Djoser -- 230+ kms each way. Assuming this is a Med-based itin versus a Suez transit, you have sail time / fuel burn to get there, plus additional port dwell to accommodate shorex. If itin changes can be pre-planned, I would be thinking something proximal ?  Limassol CY?  Mersin or Antalya TK?    So many things to consider -- fuel burn, port fees, shorex avail, pax load (ie other ships in port).    If they are cancelled on the fly for something emergent, you might get sea days and a potential re-ordering of your remaining ports ...   but, net net, all of this is conjecture.     Scott.

Thanks Scott. That all makes a whole lot of sense. I appreciate your logic. Part of the itinerary already includes Limassol so TK might be a good alternative. We enjoyed our ports in Turkey in the past. 

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As already confirmed, ports in Israel are always subject to local conditions. Ships will not stop there if there are any flare-ups of hostilities. I've read the destination boards for years and cannot count how many times people have been disappointed when either Ashdod or Haifa or both were dropped (often pretty close to sailing).  I was lucky enough to stop there on two cruises, one of them HAL, but a land trip is really needed to do justice. 

 

I'm curious, as I follow a number of cruise lines -- what are the ports you are looking to visit? I get the feeling it's not the Israel ones. There may be other options (ships)...

 

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You are spot on Cruisemom. The Israel ports are not on our bucket list. DH wants to head back to the Mediterranean. We have enjoyed several cruises in this area so I am trying to find an option that offers up some new ports. All will include several we have been to but new is a goal. 
One of the HAL options is May 2022, 19 Day on the Westerdam that includes new ports for us including some islands in the Eastern Med and ports in the Adriatic, It also includes Israel.
Another we are considering is on another line and includes several islands of Spain that we have not visited. Our timeframe is April-June 2022. 

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Posted (edited)

For several years I feel the number of "available" ports in the Mediterranean has shrunk, with many ports in Turkey, Egypt, and North Africa off the table, for various reasons. The Israel ports are always a bit of a crap shoot, as already mentioned. Increasing size of cruise ships also probably plays a role in where they can go.

 

I've been on nearly a dozen Med cruises and have been to some fairly unique ports and some no longer offered. I'm hoping that once COVID releases its grip and with (somewhat) increased stability in some of the Med countries, things will open up once more. I would love to see more varied stops in Turkey, for example, where there are several decent ports that are possible but infrequently visited by most cruise lines. I supposed Antakya is still too close to Syria...  Also wondering why so few ships visit Pula (Croatia?), skipping it in favor of heavily touristed Dubrovnik and Split.

 

Azamara has some interesting itineraries and I like their philosophy of longer port visits (a number of overnights) but as of now tends to offer shorter cruises. Maybe a line to keep an eye on once they restart with new ownership....

 

Although not technically a "Med" cruise, I am also awaiting a TRUE Black Sea itinerary, not one that merely visits the western half of the pond. 😉

 

Edited by cruisemom42
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Posted (edited)

So would love some more one offs!   We’ve cruised the Med frequently and love the climate and countries but it would be great to visit some more offbeat ports.  Patmos, Chios, Mytillini, maybe Samos for example.  
I also agree about Dubrovnik in particular.  
I also would love to do the Black Sea one day,  

Edited by bennybear
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I can’t disagree with either of you one single bit. 
I do think ship size likely has had an impact. Our trip that included Egypt has several beautiful ports in Turkey - on the original Ryndam. 
agree Azamara itineraries offer something different than mainstream, but the length of itineraries isn’t appealing. And while Viking, whom we love sailing on, has smaller ships they tend to focus on mainstream in the Med and I think they are missing an big opportunity. There are some interesting ones offered by Oceania, but many are almost sold out in 2022. Although we haven’t sailed on them, I think they may be an option for us. 
But I was really hoping that HAL would offer up some different ports, as they have done in the past. It seems that they have a focus on Israel when I find itineraries that strike me as possibilities. 

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This Seabourn cruise on Encore in 2022 has a few infrequently visited ports:

Sunday, July 10     Athens (Piraeus), Greece         5:00pm
Monday, July 11     Monemvasia, Greece     8:00am     5:00pm
Tuesday, July 12     Olympia (Katakolon), Greece     8:00am     6:00pm
Wednesday, July 13     Nydri (Lefkada), Greece     8:00am     5:00pm
Thursday, July 14     Brindisi, Italy     8:00am     6:00pm
Friday, July 15     Dubrovnik, Croatia     8:00am     7:00pm
Saturday, July 16     Zadar, Croatia     9:00am     6:00pm
Sunday, July 17     Venice, Italy     7:00am     5:00pm
Monday, July 18     Sibenik, Croatia     2:00pm     7:00pm
Tuesday, July 19     Kotor, Montenegro     8:00am     3:00pm
Wednesday, July 20     Corfu, Greece     8:00am     11:00pm
Thursday, July 21     Cephalonia, Greece     8:00am     5:00pm
Friday, July 22     Pylos, Greece     8:00am     5:00pm
Saturday, July 23     Nafplion, Greece     8:00am     5:00pm
Sunday, July 24     Athens (Piraeus), Greece     7:00am     7:00pm
Monday, July 25     Patmos, Greece     8:00am     6:00pm
Tuesday, July 26     Crete (Aghios Nikolaos), Greece     7:00am     5:00pm
Wednesday, July 27     Ephesus / Kusadasi, Turkey     7:00am     11:00pm
Thursday, July 28     Mykonos, Greece     8:00am     6:00pm
Friday, July 29     Skiathos, Greece     8:00am     5:00pm
Saturday, July 30     Bozcaada (Tenedos), Turkey     8:00am     5:00pm
Sunday, July 31     Istanbul, Turkey     7:00am    

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1 hour ago, whogo said:

This Seabourn cruise on Encore in 2022 has a few infrequently visited ports:

Sunday, July 10     Athens (Piraeus), Greece         5:00pm
Monday, July 11     Monemvasia, Greece     8:00am     5:00pm
Tuesday, July 12     Olympia (Katakolon), Greece     8:00am     6:00pm
Wednesday, July 13     Nydri (Lefkada), Greece     8:00am     5:00pm
Thursday, July 14     Brindisi, Italy     8:00am     6:00pm
Friday, July 15     Dubrovnik, Croatia     8:00am     7:00pm
Saturday, July 16     Zadar, Croatia     9:00am     6:00pm
Sunday, July 17     Venice, Italy     7:00am     5:00pm
Monday, July 18     Sibenik, Croatia     2:00pm     7:00pm
Tuesday, July 19     Kotor, Montenegro     8:00am     3:00pm
Wednesday, July 20     Corfu, Greece     8:00am     11:00pm
Thursday, July 21     Cephalonia, Greece     8:00am     5:00pm
Friday, July 22     Pylos, Greece     8:00am     5:00pm
Saturday, July 23     Nafplion, Greece     8:00am     5:00pm
Sunday, July 24     Athens (Piraeus), Greece     7:00am     7:00pm
Monday, July 25     Patmos, Greece     8:00am     6:00pm
Tuesday, July 26     Crete (Aghios Nikolaos), Greece     7:00am     5:00pm
Wednesday, July 27     Ephesus / Kusadasi, Turkey     7:00am     11:00pm
Thursday, July 28     Mykonos, Greece     8:00am     6:00pm
Friday, July 29     Skiathos, Greece     8:00am     5:00pm
Saturday, July 30     Bozcaada (Tenedos), Turkey     8:00am     5:00pm
Sunday, July 31     Istanbul, Turkey     7:00am    

 

That looks like a lovely itinerary -- just wish it wouldn't be in July; too hot for me at that time of year.

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5 hours ago, cruisemom42 said:

 

That looks like a lovely itinerary -- just wish it wouldn't be in July; too hot for me at that time of year.

cruisemom42, that itinerary is scheduled for October 2, 2022 as well.

 

Encore zigzags through the Mediterranean until November 20, when she sails for Asia, you may find something that suits you.

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8 hours ago, whogo said:

This Seabourn cruise on Encore in 2022 has a few infrequently visited ports:

Sunday, July 10     Athens (Piraeus), Greece         5:00pm
Monday, July 11     Monemvasia, Greece     8:00am     5:00pm
Tuesday, July 12     Olympia (Katakolon), Greece     8:00am     6:00pm
Wednesday, July 13     Nydri (Lefkada), Greece     8:00am     5:00pm
Thursday, July 14     Brindisi, Italy     8:00am     6:00pm
Friday, July 15     Dubrovnik, Croatia     8:00am     7:00pm
Saturday, July 16     Zadar, Croatia     9:00am     6:00pm
Sunday, July 17     Venice, Italy     7:00am     5:00pm
Monday, July 18     Sibenik, Croatia     2:00pm     7:00pm
Tuesday, July 19     Kotor, Montenegro     8:00am     3:00pm
Wednesday, July 20     Corfu, Greece     8:00am     11:00pm
Thursday, July 21     Cephalonia, Greece     8:00am     5:00pm
Friday, July 22     Pylos, Greece     8:00am     5:00pm
Saturday, July 23     Nafplion, Greece     8:00am     5:00pm
Sunday, July 24     Athens (Piraeus), Greece     7:00am     7:00pm
Monday, July 25     Patmos, Greece     8:00am     6:00pm
Tuesday, July 26     Crete (Aghios Nikolaos), Greece     7:00am     5:00pm
Wednesday, July 27     Ephesus / Kusadasi, Turkey     7:00am     11:00pm
Thursday, July 28     Mykonos, Greece     8:00am     6:00pm
Friday, July 29     Skiathos, Greece     8:00am     5:00pm
Saturday, July 30     Bozcaada (Tenedos), Turkey     8:00am     5:00pm
Sunday, July 31     Istanbul, Turkey     7:00am    

It is a very busy Cruise  no time to rest . not one sea day 

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17 minutes ago, Gail & Marty sailing away said:

It is a very busy Cruise  no time to rest . not one sea day 

Yes, I'd probably stay on the ship during the two Pireaus post stops, not that I am taking the cruise.

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, Gail & Marty sailing away said:

It is a very busy Cruise  no time to rest . not one sea day 

 

Not a problem for me; I like busy. Several of these ports look like easy days -- a walk around town or a look at the beach. Others I've been to enough times that I could stay onboard if I need a break. (I'm looking at you Dubrovnik...)

 

Edited to add:  Actually, on reflection there may be a few too many beachy islands for me on this itinerary. Looks like they are aiming for less visited spots but not the ones, unfortunately, near ancient sites.

Edited by cruisemom42
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4 minutes ago, cruisemom42 said:

 

Not a problem for me; I like busy. Several of these ports look like easy days -- a walk around town or a look at the beach. Others I've been to enough times that I could stay onboard if I need a break. (I'm looking at you Dubrovnik...)

 

Edited to add:  Actually, on reflection there may be a few too many beachy islands for me on this itinerary. Looks like they are aiming for less visited spots but not the ones, unfortunately, near ancient sites.

For a first timer to these ports it could be a busy cruise.

We have to been to these ports before  and still would like a day off.

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Posted (edited)

@whogo thanks for sharing!  Looks interesting  But in late October I’m hoping for Japan fall colours.   Unless I just stay on….

 

or we could charter our own yacht?  
Maybe we could each put our top two or three Med  ports in?   Lol!  I’d vote for Patmos, Chios😉

Edited by bennybear
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2 minutes ago, bennybear said:

or we could charter our own yacht?  
Maybe we could each put our top two or three Med  ports in?   Lol!  I’d vote for Patmos, Chios😉

 

Love that idea -- If we're sticking with Eastern Med, then I would add a few ports I've been trying to get to:

  • Pylos (for the Palace of Nestor)
  • Pula (a fine Roman amphitheatre and temple)
  • Gythion (for Sparta...and Mystras)
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19 minutes ago, bennybear said:

And perhaps Near Thessaloniki for Vergina. 

 

I'm in. I was in Thessaloniki on a port stop with an overnight a few years back. The museum in Thessaloniki itself is outstanding. We also went to Vergina but only to see the tomb of Philip II (father of Alexander the Great), also outstanding.  Vergina itself was in the middle of a very disruptive archaeological intervention, so most of it was closed. I wouldn't mind at all going back to this great port...

 

 

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