Silver Wind dumped half of its passenger load in Limassol, Cyprus. The reason: Our next two ports of call were in Israel, and apparently quite a few people were afraid to travel to this country in the Middle East. So they booked a half voyage. I can only say, Boy did they miss out.
My own mother opted out of this voyage for fear of “something happening.” A pity, because her lifelong dream had been to visit the Holy Land.
So that she could feel she was a part of my visit, I phoned her while I was walking the Via Dolorosa, the path that Jesus was said to have walked while bearing a cross from Praetorium (where he was judged) to Golgotha (where it is believed that Christ was crucified and resurrected). I sent a photo from my phone so that she could at least experience being at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre through her son being there.
I am so glad that I visited Jerusalem. It will go down as one of the most interesting cities I have ever visited. I was surprised to see Muslims, Jews and Christians living in what appeared to be relative harmony within the city.
Of course, Jerusalem felt like a fortress, with armed police and military always within sight, and cameras monitoring all movement. There were checkpoints that reminded me of being in Berlin back in the 1980s.
Military service is obligatory for all Israelis, and I saw many young adults carrying machine guns over their shoulders, including one girl who had the gun strapped over one shoulder and a pink purse strapped over the other. She was the perfect symbol for this city of contrasts.
Jerusalem felt safe, by virtue of brute force if for no other reason. In fact, tourism has suffered because of recent events in Israel and safety concerns. Israel is eager to welcome tourists, and the underlying message from tourism officials is that traveling here is safe. We were given certificates that recognized us as ambassadors for tourism to the Holy Land.
I chose to capture my day primarily in photos, which you can view in the Flickr slideshow embedded at the top of this post. If you have problems with the viewer, you can view the photos on Flickr by clicking this link.
Cruises To Jerusalem, Israel
While there are no cruises to Jerusalem, Israel, you can cruise to Ashdod, about 90 minutes away from Jerusalem.
Be sure to check back for my final reports from Voyage 2433 as I wrap up my sailing on Silversea’s Silver Wind. Follow along on twitter by using the hashtag #LiveVoyageReport. Coverage runs from Tuesday, October 21 – Friday, October 31, 2014.
Our full journey: