Letting Serenity take the strain

//Letting Serenity take the strain

It is one of the great paradoxes of luxury cruising. We travel cocooned in comfort, yet put ourselves through strenuous ordeals.
On board Crystal Serenity I have two stewardesses to attend to my penthouse, and a butler who – when he’s not pressing my shirts or cleaning my shoes – can rustle up a room service supper at a moment’s notice.
There’s fine dining in a choice of three restaurants; casual meals in two more. Entertainment in two lounges and a brace of bars. Speaking of which, there are no bills to sign or cards to be swiped when ordering drinks. It’s all included.
Why would I ever want to turn my back on any of this?
But at the first opportunity, on arrival in Israel, what did I do? I left the ship, boarded a coach, and spent every daylight hour and more visiting the sights.
Yesterday this meant battling through Jerusalem, where the crowds were packed tighter than those watching England’s World Cup Qualifiers at Wembley.
With much blowing of horns and banging of drums, lots of wailing, cheering and clapping, enthusiastic Jewish families were celebrating Bar Mitzvahs at the Western Wall. Meanwhile groups of devout Christian pilgrims were dragging a cross up the Via Dolorosa through narrow alleys packed tighter than a Turkish bazaar.
As well as the tourists making pilgrimages through the Holy Land, the numbers were swelled by thousands of passengers who had travelled on hundreds of buses from Costa Atlantica, Mariner of the Seas and Crystal Serenity, all berthed in the busy port of Ashdod.
Israel’s chaotic road system is at bursting point at the best of times. Last night a multiple pile-up on the main highway from Jerusalem to the coast meant many passengers were late for dinner.
The other two ships moved on in the night. Serenity remained another day. So this morning I was on the road again soon after sun-up, this time heading through the desert to King Herod’s mountain-top fortress of Masada.
On this fortified symbol of Jewish defiance – where at about the same time Vesuvius was laying waste to Pompeii, a group of zealots took their own lives rather than surrender to the Romans – it felt strangely fitting to look down on Israeli fighter jets tearing across the sky.
The flat-topped summit of Masada barely reaches mean sea-level. The surface of the Dead Sea is about 1,300 feet below. I don’t think I have ever seen planes flying below sea level before.
Wednesday will bring a third full day away from the ship, this time visiting Nazareth and the Sea of Galilee.
By Thursday I will be ready to submit to the most serene charms Crystal can offer.

By | 2017-06-15T15:59:42+00:00 16 October 2012|Cruise Destinations|0 Comments

About the Author:

John Honeywell is a travel writer specialising in cruise ships and cruise travel. Winner of CLIA UK's Contribution to Cruise award 2017.

Leave A Comment