Seabourn calls in Israel seasonally during cruises between the Mediterranean and Asia. The ships call at two ports in Israel: Ashdod, which is closer to Jerusalem, and Haifa, which is nearer Tel Aviv. Since Israel is not a large country, highlights throughout the Holy Land are accessible from either port and on overnight mid-cruise Journeys between them.
Tel Aviv is a lively seaside city whose UNESCO World Heritage Site, the White City of Tel Aviv, consists of a neighborhood of distinctive Bauhaus structures around Rothschild Avenue built between the 1920s and the 1950s. The oldest section, Jaffa, is the original entry port for Israel with narrow, crowded streets and retains a remnant of the character of bygone eras. The Jaffa Tales Visitors Center uses modern technology to recount a historic and mythic lore that includes Jonah’s embarkation to sail to Tarshish, St. Peter residing in the local house of Simon the Tanner and the princess Andromeda languishing in chains prior to her rescue by Perseus. Locals gather to chat and play board games along the pleasant parklike Tel Aviv Seaside Promenade.
Jerusalem contains so many places of religious and historic importance that it well deserves a two-day visit. Panoramic views of the Old City and the Temple Mount are available from the Mount of Olives or the Haas-Sherover Promenade. Various tours visit Mt. Zion, the Room of the Last Supper and King David’s Tomb. The Old City Walls encompass Zion Gate, the Dung Gate and the Western (Wailing) Wall. The Jewish Quarter holds the Roman Cardo and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre with its five Stations of the Cross. The new city highlights include the Knesset, Israeli Supreme Court, the Shrine of the Book with the Dead Sea Scrolls, the moving Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial and Children’s Memorial, as well as the Israel Museum with a scale model of the Second Temple. In the Valley of Kidron visitors can stroll the Garden of Gesthemane and visit the Church of All Nations set amongst ancient olive trees.
Bethlehem beckons with the Church of the Nativity built above the Cave of the Nativity where Jesus is said to have been born. Over the Judean Mountains in Nazareth is the Church of the Annunciation and the Church of St. Joseph built over his carpentry workshop. In the region of the Sea of Galilee is the Mount of the Beatitudes and St. Peter’s home village Capernaum.
Further afield, passing Qumran, the source of the Dead Sea Scrolls, stands the clifftop fortress of Masada, accessible by cable car.
Non-religious attractions in Israel include the ancient city of Acre which has earned UNESCO World Heritage status for its Ottoman quarter and the beautiful Baha’i Gardens, as well as Crusader-era structures and the 18th-century Khan el-Umdan (Inn of the Pillars) caravanserai.
Caesarea is another archaeological wonder, with the excavated Herod’s Palace, a Roman theater, hippodrome, baths, a Crusaders’ fort, Byzantine Market and an aqueduct. Mt. Carmel is also a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, near the ancient city of Tiberius, Zippori National Park and the Golan Heights.