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Noordam Passes on Israel


When it comes to cruising in the Middle East, clearly some things will never change. On Monday, Holland America directed the Noordam past a scheduled stop in Haifa, Israel. On Tuesday, the same thing in Jerusalem.

Cruising to Middle Eastern countries is as predictable as talks between the Palestinians and Israelis…as what Syria might do next…as which country is the newest hotspot for Al Qaeda.

This week, it was Syria.

"As a result of the uncertainties of possible military action against Syria and the potential of resulting Syrian attacks on Israel, we have cancelled the scheduled calls of ms Noordam to Israel."

That was not a statement from a high-ranking diplomat. That was a statement from a Holland America spokesperson.

The cruise line added two stops in Turkey and one in Greece to make up for missing Israel. It also refunded shore excursions and gave passengers a 15 per cent credit for a future cruise. None of that makes up for missing a chance to see the Holy Land.

The Noordam's next visit to Haifa is scheduled for October 25.

But as always, who knows?

Carnival Conquest
8 nights
November 16, 2013
San JuanSt. KittsDominicaSt. MaartenAntiguaGrand TurkMiami
Inside: $359
Cost per day: $44


Cautiously Cruising the Holy Land

We’re learning a lot about Israel this week. Our daughter and son-in-law are there on vacation, during one of those all-too-often tense times in the Middle East, so we have a growing interest in the country’s geography, not to mention the events in the waters off Gaza.

So do the cruise lines, and not because of our family. Unlike the flotilla from Turkey, cruise ships stay away from Gaza. This week, Princess passed on the closest port, Ashdod, because that’s where the flotilla is now. The Pacific Princess (below) had been scheduled to dock today in Ashdod, a frequent jumping-off port for vacationers heading to religious sites near Jerusalem.

As reported by Cruise Critic, four other cruise lines with ships in those Mediterranean waters have not made any itinerary changes — yet. Regent’s Seven Seas Mariner is due in Haifa (north of Tel Aviv) on Saturday and Ashdod (south of Tel Aviv) on Sunday, when the Azamara Quest plans to be there. Oceania’s Nautica is also due at both ports next weekend, and the Cristal from Louis Cruises has an Ashdod stop slated for Tuesday.

Cruisers are hoping to avoid trouble spots. So is our family.

That’s it, we’re done.

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