Travel Review of a
two-day cruise to Israel
from 07.10. to 09.10.2000
My brother an I, your humble
, came to travel on the PRINCESA VICTORIA of Louis Cruise Line because of
a religious holiday in Israel, called Jom Kippur. This lead the rival cruise
company to devert the sheduled Israel cruise to Beirut. So we changed our
booking to the PRINCESA VICTORIA.
12:30 in Limassol (southern Cyprus). This was an extraordinary early time,
in order to arrive earlier next day in the port of Ashdod, that would be
closed at 14:30 because the Jom Kippur-day. After we put our luggage in our
cabin, I decided to go ashore once again for some pictures of the ship. But
the crew told me there was no turning back, because of organisational reasons.
This was the only time of the cruise that I got indignant.
Well, this meant plenty of time to inspect the ship.
First our cabin: a wide room with four beds and wood paneled corridor, with
2 portholes and a (locked) door to the adjacent cabin. Because of low bookings
we got a multi-category-upgrade to what once was a luxury cabin back in the
60s. Every other cabin even had the pure luxury of a full bath tub, but we
had only a shower. So I missed my first bath tub on a cruise ship by one cabin
number! On deck Greek music everywhere and loads of greens. A surprise to
me was that most of the open deck areas were covered by a coarse rug. Apparently
the old teak wood decking is too expensive to maintain for the short cruise
trade. The lifeboat drill was in the library for the German speaking passengers,
and thus was on a pure theoretical basis. On the other hand, they bothered
to organise this drill in German language for only 20 Germans on board! Many
of the 350 fellow passengers were British. The
ship was not full, apparently due to Jom Kippur and the shortened stay in
At 15:30 the PRINCESA VICTORIA
took the seas! I used the daylight
hours for heavy photo shooting. This afternoon we managed to get a bridge
visit to see the marvellous original equipment of the 30s. The first officer
gave me the permission to go to the foredeck for some pictures of the anchor-gear
and the derricks.
In the evening
we enjoyed ourselves at dinner in the fascinating wood-paneled Roman Restaurant,
while soft Piano tunes from the music balcony filled the air. We had some
nice British and Dutch neighbors at out table. Food was served to the table
by a warm and attentive staff in two sittings. Afterwards, the floor
show in the El-Patio-Lounge proved to be much more than we expected from
a short cruise. The "Victoria Show Girls" were great, really great! Drinks,
which were paid cash, were very modestly priced.
reached after 1 hour's bus ride. Though on Palestinian Authonomy Territory,
all was quite there and we visited the Church of Nativity but not the chapel
beneath the floor, where a religious service was held. Two friendly Palestinian
policemen posed willingly for a photo.
6:00 AM proved to be an unspectacular industrial and navy harbor. We had
our buffet style breakfast in the Roman Restaurant. After a lengthy security
check by the Israeli police due to the riots in the Westbank (they forced
me to unscrew my camera objective!), I wanted to take pictures of the ship's
exteriors to make up for the disappointment on embarkation. In this I succeeded
only after some "please, please" with Israeli security forces.
We were told that Ashdod is a Navy harbour and therefore it is forbidden
to take pictures. But who prevented us from taking photos of every Navy
ship we would see, when we came into port?
Click to enlarge =>
, because of the precarious security situation, only a visit of the bazaar
and the Church of the Holy Grave, which happened to included the Mount of
Golgatha in her walls, was possible. On the bazaar a bizarre formation of
Armenian priests passed us, hammering the plaster with gorgeous canes with
every step they took. The precarious security situation was judged by our
Israeli tour guide as birth struggles of a new nation, which soon would be
over, when independence of the Westbank is achieved. But that presumption
was wrong, as security worsened after our cruise. The insurers declined coverage
of excursions into Israel after our cruise and this cruise turned out to be
the very last Israel cruise of PRINCESA VICTORIA.
Click to enlarge
We luckily made it back to Ashdod for our
departure from Israel, before the port
closed at 14:30. So we had a whole afternoon aboard in daylight, in contrast
the regular schedule, where the sun is down whenever you are on board at
that time of year.(Cruise starts at 6:00 PM, shore excursions go from 7:00
AM to 8:00 PM, disembarkation 7:00 AM). Tea/coffee and cake (for free) was
served in the Riviera-Lounge, hardly the case on the regular schedule. In
the store I found the obligatory tea pot with the ship's name for only one
Cyprus-Pound. That was great.
After our stylish
in the Roman Restaurant we were intrigued by the Victoria Show Girls' floor
show, to familiar tunes of the song "Verpiss dich!" of the German-speaking
pop group "Tic Tac Toe". Never thought this song would make an international
career! (By the way: "Verpiss dich!" means
After a night in our glorious luxury cabin with the
nostalgic flair, we reached Limassol early on Monday and had to disembark.
We would have been inconsolable, if we hadn't booked our next short cruise
on the ATALANTE of Paradise Cruises, departing in the evening of that very
But don't even think of a left-luggage to bridge
the time in Limassol until we could embark again. There is none in whole
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