Ashdod (Jerusalem), Israel
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2 days/1 night
Day 1 (L/D)
Depart from Ashdod port and descend 1,400 feet to the lowest place on the surface of our planet—the Dead Sea in the Judean Desert. You’ll also visit the Masada Fortress, located a little to the north of ancient Sodom. The mountain fortress of Masada looms high above the Dead Sea’s desolated landscape. It has often been described as the most spectacular archaeological site in Israel. Here King Herod built a luxurious refuge complete with magnificent palaces, swimming pools and excavated rock cisterns to provide water supplies. Around AD 73, after a three-year long Roman siege, more than 950 Jews took their own lives at Masada rather than face the brutal Romans and a future of slavery. A cable car will convey you to the summit for a walk around the site of this last stand. Among the fascinating sights are the wall, bathhouses, upper palace, synagogue, western palace, and the Roman ramp and siege camp. Re-board the coach and drive to Ein Bokek in time for lunch at a hotel on the shores of the Dead Sea. After lunch, take a swim in these waters that are so mineral-rich you can’t sink. After your Dead Sea experience, drive north past Jericho and Qumran. Take a picture of the caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in 1947; then, continue to Jerusalem. Check into your hotel and, after dinner, you’ll drive past the illuminated walls and monuments of Jerusalem and visit the Western (Wailing) Wall. This is the last vestige of the ramparts that surrounded the Holy Temple. Observe the crowds who come to pray by the ancient stones. Dinner and Overnight at the Inbal Jerusalem Hotel (or similar) after an exciting and memorable day.
Day 2 (B/L)
After breakfast, begin your day with a magnificent view over the Golden City from atop Mt. Scopus. Then walk through Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus spent the last moments before his arrest. Early Christians were already holding gatherings here before the first church was built around AD 380. Visit the beautiful church that is here today and see some of the oldest olive trees remaining in Jerusalem. Re-board your coach for the short drive to Mt Zion and a visit to the Room of the Last Supper. Enter the Old City on foot via the Zion Gate and walk through the Jewish Quarter and the Roman Cardo to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher on the site of Christ’s resurrection. The original vast sanctuary built here by Emperor Constantine was destroyed centuries later, but a replacement was eventually rebuilt by the Crusaders. In the church you will see the last five Stations of the Cross. Walk through the colorful bazaar to the Jaffa Gate. After lunch, drive to Bethlehem and visit the Church of Nativity, built above the place Christ is said to have been born. The actual Cave of the Nativity is a small crypt with a vaulted masonry roof. Poor Bethlehem families used the rocky hollows of the region as stables or dwellings, so the tradition that places the Nativity in a cave is not at odds with the story of the manger. On your way out of Bethlehem, you will have an opportunity to shop for souvenirs before you return to the ship.
Use of an audio headset (included) will enhance your tour experience. If you plan to take a dip in the Dead Sea, bring an old swimsuit, as the water can cause discoloration. Wear aqua shoes. Towels and lockers are provided at the hotel. Modest attire is required; knees, shoulders and midriffs must be covered. Bring sturdy non-skid walking shoes. The tour is guided; an escort from the ship's staff may or may not also accompany the group.
You must book this overland PRIOR to sailing. Tour operates subject to meeting a minimum number of participants. The cut-off date is 90 days before the ship's call at Ashdod. Due to the popularity of this tour and strict booking conditions, cancellation fees start 75 days prior to the call at Ashdod. Accommodation is included (hotels are subject to change). Airport assistance and transfers, transportation by air-conditioned coach, all entrance fees indicated in the itinerary, an English-speaking guide (unless otherwise noted), water on the vehicle, and meals (as indicated) are also included. Gratuities and personal expenses are not included. Bring your passport with you on tour.
Important information regarding visa requirements: It is solely each participant's responsibility to obtain any necessary visas, tourist cards and vaccinations, if required, to participate in Overland Adventures and/or Overnights and to keep apprised of any policy changes. Visas may be required for any/all countries your tour departs from and travels through and for the country where you will re-join the ship. Passports must be valid for at least six months beyond the completion of the cruise. Your travel agent can assist you with your visa needs. If you require further assistance, Holland America Line's preferred visa service is CIBTvisas. US and Canadian citizens can reach them by phone or email: US citizens: 866 788 1100 or email email@example.com. Canadian citizens: 866 935 8472 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. CIBTvisas phone numbers and email addresses for Dutch, German, Australian, United Kingdom, Belgian, Singapore, Spanish, Swiss and French citizens can be found in the Frequently Asked Questions section of Holland America Line's website, in the Cruise Preparation area. Applications and additional information can be downloaded from the CIBTvisas website at https://CIBTvisas.com/hollandamerica. You must advise CIBTvisas of your Overland Adventures or Overnights, as the visa requirements for these vacation enhancements may vary from those required for your cruise.