April 09, 2016

World Cruise 2016 Day 95

Day 95 – Haifa, Israel. The forecast is for heavy overcast skies, and highs near 80. We dock on time, or maybe a little early. There is a cruise terminal here, but the dock is primarily a commercial pier. What I notice most are the 13 military ships docked at various locations around the port.

After breakfast I wait for my group to be called for customs inspection. When called I am given my passport and a "visit permit" which has some of the information from my passport, and additional ship information. I then meet with an Israel official that asks several simple questions and then she stamps the permit and I'm on my way. I'm sure the questions gave her enough information to profile me as no threat.

When we leave the ship for my excursion, my passport and visit permit are checked again, and all passengers have their bags wiped for explosives and whatever else they can detect. Some bags are x-rayed, but not mine.

Our bus only has 28 passengers plus the guide and HAL escort. Over a period of about 8 hours we visit a number of religious sites including Nazareth, Cana, Sea of Galilee, The Mount of The Beatitudes, Golan Heights, Tabgha, Yardenite baptismal site on the Jordan River, and Mount Carmel.

For the most part our group was well behaved, only once were two people late returning to the bus, CS and his wife. Yes that is the same CS I have written about previously. Dolly was also on the tour today, the first time I have seen her on a tour.

Israel has done a great job in commercializing tourism to the various religious sites. At our stop for lunch I was about 10 minutes early returning to the parking lot and counted a total of 35 buses. Only about 5 were from HAL. It appeared that whatever the tour, we all stopped at the same hotel for lunch.

The buffet was good, the wine better, and the large hotel dining room could have held another 500 guests without a hitch.

We actually had about 30 drops of rain on the way. At the ship I think there was more, but not much. The outside decks were covered with a heavy coat of sticky wet sand, and the crew was busy trying to wash off the aft pool deck area. I guess that the rain washed some of the ever present sand dust out of the air.

There is no show tonight, only a movie, I grab a bag of popcorn, but skip the movie so I can write this. We leave Haifa about midnight and travel to Ashrod, Israel overnight. Tomorrow I have an 8 hour tour of Jerusalem scheduled to leave at 7:30. Another alarm clock day.