Day 032: Masada and the Dead Sea (Jerusalem / Bethlehem, Israel)
Position: N 31º 35′ 26″ E 035º 24′ 22″
Weather: 30ºC wind northwest 8 kts
Last Port: Aqaba, Jordan
Next Port: Athens, Greece
Status: in port, Ashdod, Israel
From the Navigator
This morning we will commence our final approach to Ashdod at approximately 0430 and expect to board our local pilot at 0445. Once the pilot is onboard we will proceed in through the breakwater before swinging and backing down alongside our berth. We plan on being alongside at 0545. Once everyone is back onboard this evening we will let go our lines, thrust off the berth and retrace our courses out of the harbor. Once clear of the breakwater we will disembark our pilot and set north westerly courses across the Mediterranean.
Audio brief for the port (28mb .mp3)
Set forth on this amazing and rigorous full-day tour by meeting your professional guide at the pier and boarding an air-conditioned motorcoach. Then sit back and relax as you embark on a two-hour scenic drive from the verdant coastal region of your port city Ashdod through rugged rocky terrain in the Negev Desert.
Visit Masada, the most spectacular ancient archaeological site in Israel! This breathtaking fortress and palace built by Herod the Great around 37 B.C. on a tabletop mountain towers 1,450 feet above the Dead Sea. It was here that for three years Jewish Zealots made their last stand against Roman armies during the Jewish Revolt. With the Romans on the verge of breaching the walls, the Zealots, in a last act of defiance, chose mass suicide in 73 B.C. Ascend this mountaintop fortress by cable car for the opportunity to explore the magnificent ancient ruins of this moving site, which include Herod’s three-tiered palace, the synagogue, the baths, the defending walls, and the water cisterns that are an engineering feat still today.
Continue your journey through the desert to the Dead Sea, the lowest place on Earth at 1,276 feet below sea level. As its name evokes, the Dead Sea is devoid of life due to an extremely high content of minerals which give its waters the renowned curative and therapeutic qualities recognized since the days of Herod the Great, more than 2,000 years ago.
Stop at a leading hotel situated on the shores of the Dead Sea to enjoy a delicious lunch buffet accompanied by wine. Then slip into the warm, sea waters to experience firsthand the exquisite sensation of floating effortlessly upon the waters so filled with salt that even non-swimmers can remain buoyant without even trying.
As you embark on your return journey along the shores of the Dead Sea, you will pass the ruins of the ancient settlement of Qumran where, in 1947, a Bedouin shepherd boy discovered the Dead Sea Scrolls, a collection of 972 documents, including texts from the Hebrew Bible.