Planning for next cruise with Women’s Travel Club!

Tours for next trip: Jerusalem 

Down to the research, now that I am home from my last two cruises.  I am going on another Oceania cruise, onboard Riviera again, and I fly out on 30 May 2015. I will be enjoying Europe with a dozen others, cruise and land stay.
One of the lessons learned on the last two cruises is that tours offered by Oceania often sell out.  And so for those who wait till they get on board to book tours, sometimes they don’t get what they want.  I am going to book ahead this time.
Also if a person books a minimum number of excursions, the cost is reduced by 25%, but only if booked in advance.  So here goes.  The planning has begun.
I have been trying to coordinate with travel buddies, people who are interested in similar tours as I am, or might be.  Also family and friends who I have travelled with previously are being consulted and we have been emailing, calling and meeting in person.  
I am selecting the first tours based on ports of call that I don’t want to roam around on my own without a tour guide, Israel and Egypt for example.  Then I looked at all the tours for all the ports and decided on one for every port that I might want should I book the “unlimited package” which allows for at least one tour on every port day.  And lastly I look at  each port and decide if I really would prefer just to walk about and see the sights of the town, for example, or the beach!  Yeah for the beaches!
We are two days in Israel and I have been two days in Israel a few years ago.  I made some decisions then on tours I would like and ruled out ones like the Dead Sea.  I talked to people and read some reviews and so those results seem still valid to me now.  Last time I toured Tel Aviv and Jaffa one day and attended a fabulous concert in a 3000 year old theatre in the evening.  Neither of those two options are available this time.
I have selected a long tour on day 1, a panoramic tour of Jerusalem.  The price is good, not a lot of exertion anticipated, and a good overview of a very interesting place that takes a while to get there.  Last time I seem to recall that was only available as an overnight tour, so this time it seems much more manageable.  I prefer no overnight tours when I am cruising and relying on the ship chef for my diet.  
On 6 June 2015 you will likely read about my day of eleven hours offering an excellent overview of Jerusalem as I learn about the age old story of Judaism and Christianity.  We will ascend into the Judean hills on way to Mt Scopus.  We will arrive at the summit of the amount of Olives where we will enjoy a breathtaking view of the old city.  We will find the Garden of Gethsemane, site of an ancient olive oil press that is surrounded by 1,000 year old trees!  We will visit the Church of All Nations.  Also in the morning we will check out some city gates, a few tombs, and see a view of King David’s City and then walk to the famous Western Wailing Wall.  This wall is considered the holiest site of the Jewish world, believing it is on the site where the Holy Ark once stood.
We will have a buffet lunch, and after head to West Jerusalem.  Probably only a few hours of walking, this promises to be a tour that takes in a lot of area and I am looking forward to interesting stories!
Day two, 7 June will take is to Acre (pronounced Akko) and the crusaders kingdom.  A five hour tour starts at the northernmost point of Haifa Bay, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Acre.  Expecting a medieval atmosphere and an underground city including Hospitaler Quarter and a Crypt and long underground passage that is thought to once be an escape tunnel built by Crusaders.  I know very little about this storyline so am expecting to learn much!  
We will then come back to the surface and enjoy a lively marketplace with exotic and intoxicating scents, I am told.  A photo stop at Mt Carmel on the way back to the ship where I will photograph the famed golden globe dome of Haifa’s Baha’i Shrine and Acre in the distance.  This tour will include some two hours of walking on uneven surfaces with a tunnel and steps to navigate.  
By early afternoon we will be back to the ship getting cleaned up and ready for happy hour, dinner and a sail away party out of this amazing harbour by about six pm.
To be continued …..
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