Haifa

The Bahai Gardens on Mount Carmel
Stella Maris Carmelite Monastery
The bubbling city of Tel Aviv

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Haifa

Where the three great monotheist religions meet

During an MSC cruise in the Mediterranean, Haifa, a large port located in northern Israel, is the perfect setting off point for excursions of great interest, especially if you would like to learn more about the world’s three greatest religions during your voyage.

In Israel, the three Religions of the Book, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, encounter each other at every angle. MSC Cruises offers, for example, a tour of places described in the Bible. After visiting places such as Bethlehem, Nazareth, Cana and Jerusalem, you will be able to truthfully say that you have tread on the same ground as the prophets, the disciples of Jesus and the Arab conquerors.

Or, if you are more interested in history and are not afraid of to get a little tired, an excursion to Massada will take you to the top of the mountain where the Jews took their last stand against the Romans. While docked at Haifa during your cruise, you will also get the chance to admire Israel’s nature at its most extreme. A short distance from Massada sits a landlocked lake that is so salty that it has been nicknamed the Dead Sea.

In Mt. Carmel Park, on the other hand, there are trails that wind between the natural beauties of the Middle East, the woods, archaeologic sites, and sacred places. A cruise in the Mediterranean Sea offers both must-see natural and historical excursions, and less demanding pass times; from Haifa, with another MSC excursion, you will be able to reach the bubbling city of Tel Aviv.

It is considered, for good reason, the most modern city in Israel, not just for its skyscrapers but also for its way of life. During a comfortable bus tour that will take you through the city’s old quarter, you will also be able to admire Tel Aviv’s architectural heritage dating to the early 20th century.

Must see places in Haifa

  • View of Jerusalem with the Golden Globe

    View of Jerusalem with the Golden Globe

  • The Sea of Galilee

    The Sea of Galilee

  • The village of Nazareth

    The village of Nazareth

Discover our excursions

5 results found

  • JERUSALEM full day, lunch included

    CITY TOUR

    HAF04

    Come with us on a 2-hour drive to Jerusalem, one of the most inspiring cities in the world and renowned for its historical significance, spiritual symbolism and visual splendour. Your excursion will begin with a stop at the Mount of Olives Promenade to enjoy the breathtaking view. The visit continues with a walking tour through the old town of Jerusalem. Pass Dung Gate, the Western Wall - the remains of the second temple destroyed by Romans in 70 AD and the most sacred Jewish shrine in Jerusalem. Walk along a part of the “Via Dolorosa”, considered by Christians to be the holiest road in the world, the path where Jesus was led to death. You can also admire the Church of the Holy Sepulchre without entering the tomb. Lunch will be followed by a trip to a souvenir store in Jerusalem, from where we will drive back to Haifa port. Please note: guests have to walk 2.5 km on uneven, cobblestone terrain with some steps and inclines. Please expect crowded sites; comfortable shoes recommended. Conservative attire recommended when visiting sites of religious importance.
    • Lunch or dinner included

    • Shopping

    • May involve inclines, steps, uneven surfaces and/or extended periods of standing

      Difficulty Level
      Moderate

    • Duration
      10 h

  • BAHÁ’Í GARDENS & CAESAREA MARITIMA approx. 5 hours

    SCENIC ROUTE

    HAF12

    Combining calls at two of Israel’s most visited places, this tour will take you to see both the amazing Bahá’í Gardens in Haifa and the ancient city of Caesarea Maritima, a national park on the Israeli coastline near the modern-day town of Caesarea. After boarding a coach at the pier in Haifa, you will first head up the neighbouring Mount Carmel – a UNESCO biosphere reserve – to reach the terraced Bahá’í Gardens, passing a Carmelite Monastery on the way. Also known as the Hanging Gardens of Haifa, the wonderful Gardens are on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and were created as an expression of the monotheistic Bahá’í faith, which focuses on the spiritual unity of all humankind. A stop will be made at the upper terrace of the Gardens, a spot that affords the best view of the entire complex, during which your guide will provide information on this special place, which is considered to be the second holiest shrine of the world’s Bahá’í community. The tour then continues on to your next stop, the ancient city and port of Caesarea Maritima, only a short drive from Haifa. Built by Herod the Great c. 25-13 B.C. and named in honour of Augustus Caesar, the city soon became a Roman prefecture. Your tour of the complex will include viewings of the huge Roman theatre, the 2nd century hippodrome as well as the remains of King Herod’s palace. A short introductory film, complete with illustrations of life in these ancient times, will be shown to round off your archaeological experience. There will also be some free time for you to enjoy the area, which also features cafés and restaurants along the seafront promenade, before the coach returns you to Haifa and your ship. Please note: this tour is not suitable for guests in a wheelchair.
      • May involve a limited quantity of steps, uneven surfaces and/or periods of standing

        Difficulty Level
        Easy

      • Duration
        5 h

    • BAHA’I GARDENS, ANCIENT ACRE & THE KNIGHTS TEMPLAR 6 hours

      SCENIC ROUTE

      HAF08

      Visit Mount Carmel and the ancient town of Acre. Your route takes you via Stella Maris Carmelite Monastery to Panorama Ave, named for its astonishing view of the city, Haifa Bay, the coastline and all of northern Israel. Stop to view the Baha’i Gardens, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, from the upper terrace. These are the largest hanging gardens in the world. The shrine is the second holiest place for the world’s Baha’i community. Continue your drive down Mt. Carmel, leaving Haifa and crossing the bay to Akko (Acre), the oldest city in the northern region. More than 4,000 years of recorded history will unfold before your eyes as you walk through Acre’s narrow cobblestone passageways and colorful bazaar. The present-day town was built in the 18th century on the ruins of the 12th-century Crusader city. Acre has changed hands and names many times over the millennia, but since 1948 it has returned to its biblical name of Akko. Visit the Crusaders’ Halls, built by the Hospital Knights (the Knights of St. John) and the subterranean Crusader city. Walk past Al Jazzar’s Mosque, built in the 18th century, through the bazaar to the port and Khan el-Umdan (Inn of the Pillars), a handsome 18th-century caravanserai. Then descend to the 12th-century level again to visit the unforgettable Templars’ Tunnel. This amazing engineering feat is a tunnel more than a thousand feet long, carved through solid stone, connecting the fortress (no longer standing) to the port (still intact). As its name implies, the tunnel was constructed by the Knights Templar—the Crusaders charged with guarding the temple in Jerusalem. The Saladins forced the Templars to retreat to Acre, which was their last bastion in Israel until the Fall of Acre in 1297. The tunnel will lead you to the lighthouse and the sea wall. After a morning of adventure, you will have some free time to shop in the bazaar; then return to Haifa and the ship. Please note: this tour includes walking on uneven ground and is not suitable for guests using a wheelchair.
      • Shopping

      • May involve inclines, steps, uneven surfaces and/or extended periods of standing

        Difficulty Level
        Moderate

      • Duration
        5 h

    • DISCOVERING GALILEE full day, lunch included

      SOMETHING SPECIAL

      HAF11

      A place of miracles in ancient times and a popular spot with tourists and pilgrims today, this excursion covers another important sight of the Holy Land - the Sea of Galilee. This large water mass is not actually a ‘sea’ but a lake: the largest freshwater lake in Israel and located near the Golan Heights. It was here that Jesus conducted most of his ministry activities and where many of Jesus’ miracles happened, such as walking on water and the ‘Feeding of the 5000’. We will drive to Nazareth, the largest city in the North District of Israel and the childhood home of Jesus, according to the New Testament. Many guests will be interested in paying a pilgrimage to the surprisingly modern “Basilica of the Annunciation”, a church built on the site where the Gabriel announced the news of Jesus’ birth to the Virgin Mary; visitors can see the underground grotto where Mary received the Annunciation. Next we will reach Capernaum, the ancient city of Galilee; the town is mentioned in the New Testament in the Gospel of Luke and is reported to be the home of the Apostles Peter, Andrew, James, John and Matthew. We will walk around the ruins of the synagogue where Jesus taught on the Sabbath and prayed. Proceed to Tabgha which is, according to tradition, the site of three of the most important episodes of the New Testament: the Sermon on the Mount, the miracle of the loaves and fishes and the appearance of Jesus after Resurrection. After lunch you will proceed to the Mount of Beatitudes, the hill from where Jesus gave his famous ‘Sermon on the Mount’ and where Pope John Paul II celebrated a mass in March 2000. Please note: this tour includes walking on uneven ground. Conservative attire recommended for visiting sites of religious importance. The coach drive to the Sea of Galilee takes about 2 hours.
      • Lunch or dinner included

      • May involve inclines, steps, uneven surfaces and/or extended periods of standing

        Difficulty Level
        Moderate

      • Duration
        9:30 h

    • MASSADA AND THE DEAD SEA full day, lunch included

      SOMETHING SPECIAL

      HAF07

      If you are in need of relaxation and revival you will not want to miss this great day out in the historic city of Massada with the chance to bathe in the relaxing mineral-rich waters of the Dead Sea. A 3-hour coach drive will take you to Massada via Ared, heading towards one of Israel’s historic spots where scenes of battle, power and revolt played out with tragic results. Herod the Great had a fortress and a palace built on the Massada Plateau between 37 and 31 BC as a personal refuge in case of revolt. The plateau, situated 442 metres above the Dead Sea, was also the last point of resistance by the Jewish Zealots against the Romans, where 960 Zealots committed mass suicide by in 72 BC rather than surrender to the Romans. It is partly for these reasons that Massada is the most visited site in Israel after Jerusalem. As Massada is located high on this rocky plain we will need to ascend the mountain via cable car and once at the top, we will visit one of the oldest synagogues in the world. From these lofty heights we will descend to the lowest point on earth - the Dead Sea – located 400 metres below sea level. Because of the high salt content the water, the Dead Sea is undrinkable and cannot support life ; hence its name. However the salts have rich health benefits and therapeutic qualities and the very high levels of saline help bathers to float ! Lunch will be in a leading restaurant before returning to the port. Please note: guests have to walk 2,5 km on uneven, cobblestone terrain with some steps. Comfortable shoes, towels, swimsuit and sun protection recommended. This excursion is not suitable for guests with low blood pressure or heart problems.
      • Lunch or dinner included

      • Possibility of swimming

      • Limited seats

      • May involve inclines, steps, uneven surfaces and/or extended periods of standing

        Difficulty Level
        Moderate

      • Duration
        13 h

    The excursions in the programme above are intended to provide MSC Guests with an idea of the different tours that can be arranged in each port of call; this programme is merely a guide and confirmation of each excursion and its description and prices will be made during your cruise.
    Shore excursions programs and itineraries may vary depending on local conditions and/or any unforeseen events in relation to the timing on the day of the tour.

     

    Some excursions are very popular and therefore availability cannot always be guaranteed, it is advisable to book in advance to avoid disappointment. The guides are guaranteed in English. Only for South America cruises, the guides are guaranteed in Brazilian Portuguese. Narration in other languages depends on the availability of guides. Please note that the final language of the tour will be confirmed on board during the cruise.

    Israel

    Welcome to the Holy Land

    Welcome to the Holy Land

    A vacation in Israel leaves a mark. There are so many interesting things to see in the Holy Land that every wish can be satisfied. Nature, history, tradition, religion, relaxing on the beach, skin-diving, trekking… there isn’t a single item on the “things to do on vacation” list that you won’t find here.

    In all its regions, from Galilee, in the south, known as the Switzerland of Israel, to Mount Hermon, in the north, and to the plain of Jezreel, the location of the biblical Apocalypse, you can find a host of opportunities. You can start with the towns associated with the life of Christ with a visit to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem and then Nazareth, to the basilica of the Annunciation.

    Along its maze of little streets, to tackle at a slow pace, you find ancient churches of all periods, often rebuilt with the integration of Byzantine elements or dating back to the Crusades.
    Don’t miss an excursion to Acri, the town that was the seat of the Knights Templar and which still bears its mark.
    Or to Akko, where the waves of the Mediterranean sea break against the majestic ancient walls of the town.

    The more mundane, party-loving and lively city is instead Tel Aviv, the most modern of Israeli cities, active 24 hours a day. Don’t miss a visit to the desert of Judaea, a stony and arid land which opens onto the spectacular Dead Sea.