The beauty of a world cruise is visiting lesser-known ports of call that are often neglected from typical 7- or 10-day itineraries. These smaller gems tend to be less touristy, more authentic, and just as impressive—the kind place you feel welcomed to explore, where you find smiling faces and the scent of fresh flowers around every corner. One such port is Haifa, your gateway to Galilee.
As your ship approaches Haifa, you wonder if you’re mistakenly docking at San Francisco or Naples. Israel’s third largest city gives off that vibe in the most alluring way. Rolling hillsides undulate beneath towering Mount Carmel, sweeping down into a wide and shimmering bay, while broad streets teem with sunshine and swaying palm trees.
Then you spy minarets and church spires silhouetted in the early morning sun, along with the gorgeously manicured Bahá’í Gardens rising in majestic, terraced steps up the mountain to the Shrine of the Báb—and that’s when you realize you’ve arrived somewhere special.
There is much to do and see when docked at this ancient city, which is proud to be the gateway to Galilee, Jerusalem and numerous historic sites from the Bible. To give you a better idea how your wondrous time here might be spent during an extended cruise vacation, here are a handful of shore excursions offered by Cruise Specialists partners.
CUNARD: Ancient Caesarea
The ancient city of Caesarea—built nearly 2,000 years ago by King Herod in honor of the Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus—was once the most splendid city of the region. Your guide will tell you unforgettable and illustrious stories throughout the tour, bringing the past to life, as you visit the Roman Amphitheatre, the crusader’s fort, the Hippodrome, and the remarkable Aqueduct. On the way back, you’ll stop for a photo opportunity at the top of Mount Carmel, with Haifa Bay and the magnificent Bahá’í Gardens laid out before you.
REGENT SEVEN SEAS CRUISES: Panoramic Jerusalem
Regent offers a brilliant introduction to Jerusalem and its surrounding areas by way of a comfortable coach tour, part of its Free, Unlimited Shore Excursions program. You’ll travel through the scenic Judean Hills on your way to top of the Mount of Olives, where you will be treated to breathtaking views of the Old City, Temple Mount, the Golden Gates, and the Church of the Ascension. Next, you’ll wind your way to the Dung Gate for a visit of the Wailing Wall, passing the picturesque Gardens of Gethsemane and the remarkable Church of All Nations along the way. It will be a most memorable outing!
CELEBRITY CRUISES: Haifa & Acre
This moderate walking tour introduces you splendidly to two significant religious destinations: the monastery at Haifa and the preserved crusader city of Acre. In Haifa, you’ll peruse all 19 terraced steps of Bahá’í Gardens on your way to the 19th-century Stella Maris Monastery and Elijah’s Cave, where the prophet allegedly took shelter during his famed journey into the wilderness. Next, you’ll head through Acre’s Old City tunnels to find yourself surrounded by a sprawling bazaar, the stalls loaded with saffron and silk treasures, before visiting St. John’s Crypt and the city’s ancient crusader halls.
OCEANIA CRUISES: Nazareth & the Sea of Galilee
This is your chance to literally walk in the footsteps of Jesus, visiting the locations he lived at and preached in. Nazareth’s place in history is without doubt, as you’ll see for yourself exploring the astounding Basilica of the Annunciation, one of the largest churches in the Middle East and a significant site in Mary’s personal story. Next, you’ll venture to Cana and encounter the sacred baptismal site where the River Jordan separates from the Sea of Galilee.