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
- Church in Austrian Hostel
- 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 and Qasr el-Yahud, the traditional site in the Jordan River where John baptized Jesus. Another possibility is a tour of the Judean desert where 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. It’s your tour!
You don’t have to hope that the cruise organizers can get an alternative tour together and find the guide who can guide it. I’m also an experienced photographer so I can take you to special places where You can focus on your 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 and gratuities. In this way each client controls his/her costs. It’s a great deal! Just click to get started.
See client recommendations below in the comments field and/or by clicking on the menu What Clients Say.
Thank you for the BEST TOUR we have ever taken, that was in depth and informative OUT STANDING JOB. I have told everyone on the ship and at home about You and Your Tours. It was the Best part of our trip to Israel, and the Cruise. We will return to see more of your Israel. Thanks again. Tom & Gerry
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Thank you so much for your email with the details of our tour itinerary, it will help no end in labeling my photos. I was expecting Jerusalem to be the highlight of the whole trip and it was. Your personal tour made the day and we will highly recommend you to anyone who needs a guide. We spoke to a person on the ship who had taken the cruise tour and was very dissatisfied due to the large crowds and inability to move about or to see properly, which only emphasized how lucky we were to have you guide us.
Pete and Milli
(Originally posted on TripAdvisor)
We had a fantastic experience in Jerusalem with our personal tour guide, Shmuel Browns. My wife found Shmuel on trip advisor and decided to use his services based on comments that were posted. We were part of an Oceana cruise and did not want to be herded like sheep through all the touristy spots and having to waste time battling the crowds. We also spent a night off the ship at the King David Hotel which overlooks Jerusalem. This also was a great experience.
Shmuel is a very friendly and knowledgeable Israeli Licensed Tour Guide, who speaks fluent English (he grew up in Canada). We asked Shmuel for a tour that avoided the crowds and we wanted to see areas that were not normally frequented by the tour groups. We also wanted to see the latest archaeological sites e.g. Herodium…the site of the newly discovered King Herod tomb. We did a lot of walking, covered a lot of ground, and felt like we were part of an Indiana Jones experience…particularly when we were going through endless tunnels under the city of Jerusalem!
What we covered on Day 1 included..Herod’s family tomb, Iron Age tombs at Ketef Hinnom, Mount Zion cable car, Zion gate, Dormition Abbey, Tomb of King David, Room of Last Supper, Cardo, Madaba map, Broad wall, Lunch w. view of Temple Mount and Mt of Olives, City of David – dry tunnel & stepped road and drainage channel, Southern Wall Archaeological park, Secondary Cardo, Tombs at Church of Holy Sepulcher. We entered the Church of the Holy Sepulcher at the end of the day when it was virtually empty…That was really good considering when we last visited, the place was teaming with people and it was difficult to get a sense of the significance of the place.
Day 2. 3rd wall, Church of St Etienne, Iron Age tombs, Garden Tomb, Roman gate, Mediterranean Hotel, later Wittenberg House, Church of Flagellation, Ecce Homo arch, View from roof of Austrian Hospice, and Herodium. Herodium is a fantastic site and well worth the trip.
At the end of day 2, Shmuel kindly drove us back to the port which was extremely kind of him.
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