Our first choice for the Eastern Mediterranean was a late-November Jade sailing. With troubles in the region early this year, NCL cancelled all but two of its ventures to Israel and Egypt. We were lucky to jump to this one and did not regret the chance for a moment.
The crew was terribly excited for the chance to visit the Holy Land. Several noted they were Catholic and awed by the opportunity. They knew this might be their only chance because the Jade will spend the rest of the winter on the milk runs to the Canaries and Greek islands.
The food, accommodations and service were all impeccable. We toured on private excursions arranged through the very large and lively Cruise Critic roll call group. We took one-day trips out of Haifa and Ashdod but elected to take a wonderful overnight from Port Said to Alexandria by way of Mena House next to the great pyramids. Fellow cruisers who paid the 100 percent premium for NCL excursions were not convincing in their protestations More
that it's better to travel in a guarded convoy of huge coaches rather than in a small, zippy van with half a dozen like-minded enthusiasts. We only took quick looks at two ports, Alanya in Turkey and Limassol in Cyprus. Less
Norwegian Jade Cruises to the Eastern Mediterranean
We enjoyed an extra-large HA cabin with an ocean view obstructed by the aft-most starboard lifeboat. It was very handy to the aft main dining room that we prefer, but catching the only elevator that takes a walker-bound person to Deck 6 was tricky and sometimes frustrating.
We really didn't see much of Alexandria as we had begun in Port Said, which is not on the pull-down list for some reason. Ramses tours provide a marvelous guid, Mahmoud Gouda, and an incredibly proficient driver, Ahmad, to get us through the incredible Cairo traffic. Many highlights including all the usual sites -- Sakhara, Memphis, Giza, Citidel of Saladin and the Alabaster Mosque, the great museum on Tahrir Square, the wonderful Mena House Oberoi and lunch on a felluca sailing the Nile lagoon downtown. Worst Traffic Ever.
Guided Tours Israel provided a terrific guide from Haifa for the visit to all the important Christian sites in the north of Israel. We had the same guide and driver the next day out of Ashdod with a great look at Jerusalem. The visit to Palestinian Bethlehem with a specially licensed guide was less effective.