A Travellerspoint blog

Norwegian Prima

The Haven

sunny 85 °F

I am again out cruising, this time aboard NCL's newest ship and class of ships - Norwegian Prima. As with all new ship classes, it is amazing to see what the designers are able to come up with in terms of making a cruise ship a destination in and of itself. Over the next few days I will be sharing the highlights of the ship as we sail the Western Caribbean for seven nights round trip from Miami.

I am staying in a two bedroom suite in the Haven... NCL's five star ship within a ship. Each suite has a cabin attendant and a butler, and the Haven hosts its own deck area, bar, lounge and restaurant. On Prima, there are about 250 people lodged in The Haven. You really don't have to leave your area other than for shopping, shows and specialty restaurants. Your concierge is available to make all of your arrangements for you.

Today's photos are of the Haven.

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Posted by rpickett 17:39 Archived in USA Tagged miami Comments (0)

Journey through the Holy Land

Photo Album

sunny

Click this link for my photo album of the whole wonderful adventure

Holy Land Photo Album

Posted by rpickett 14:50 Archived in Israel Comments (0)

Journey through the Holy Land

Masada and the Dead Sea

sunny 90 °F

We left Jerusalem this morning for our sojourn to the Masada and the Dead Sea. The on the way to Masada we passed the cliffs where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered. There were many caves - are there more?

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We then arrived at Masada where we took a tram from well below sea level to 33 meters above sea level. Herod the Great built two palaces for himself on the mountain and fortified Masada between 37 and 31 BCE. According to Josephus, the siege of Masada by Roman troops from 73 to 74 CE, at the end of the First Jewish–Roman War, ended in the mass suicide of the 960 Sicarii rebels who were hiding there. However, the archaeological evidence relevant to a mass suicide event is ambiguous at best and rejected entirely by some scholars. In 73 CE, the Roman governor of Iudaea, Lucius Flavius Silva, headed the Roman legion X Fretensis and laid siege to Masada. Another source gives the year of the siege of Masada as 73 or 74 CE. The Roman legion surrounded Masada, building a circumvallation wall and then a siege ramp against the western face of the plateau. The ramp was complete in the spring of 73, after probably two to three months of siege, allowing the Romans to finally breach the wall of the fortress with a battering ram on April 16. The Romans employed the X Legion and a number of auxiliary units and Jewish prisoners of war, totaling some 15,000 (of whom an estimated 8,000 to 9,000 were fighting men), in crushing Jewish resistance at Masada. A giant siege tower with a battering ram was constructed and moved laboriously up the completed ramp. According to Josephus, when Roman troops entered the fortress, they discovered that its defenders had set all the buildings but the food storerooms ablaze and committed mass suicide or killed each other, 960 men, women, and children in total. Josephus wrote of two stirring speeches that the Sicari leader had made to convince his men to kill themselves. Only two women and five children were found alive. Masada was last occupied during the Byzantine period, when a small church was established at the site. The church was part of a monastic settlement identified with the monastery of Marda known from hagiographical literature.

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After lunch, we headed to an abandoned military base for a swim in the Dead Sea - a most remarkable experience. The lake's surface is 430.5 metres (1,412 ft) below sea level, making its shores the lowest land-based elevation on Earth. It is 304 m (997 ft) deep, the deepest hypersaline lake in the world. With a salinity of 342 g/kg, or 34.2% (in 2011), it is one of the world's saltiest bodies of water – 9.6 times as salty as the ocean – and has a density of 1.24 kg/litre, which makes swimming similar to floating. This salinity makes for a harsh environment in which plants and animals cannot flourish, hence its name. The Dead Sea has attracted visitors from around the Mediterranean Basin for thousands of years. It was one of the world's first health resorts (for Herod the Great), and it has been the supplier of a wide variety of products, from asphalt for Egyptian mummification to potash for fertilisers. Today, tourists visit the sea on its Israeli, Jordanian and West Bank coastlines. The Palestinian tourism industry has been met with setbacks in developing along the West Bank coast. The Dead Sea is receding at a swift rate; its surface area today is 605 km2 (234 sq mi), having been 1,050 km2 (410 sq mi) in 1930.

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Posted by rpickett 15:45 Archived in Israel Tagged sea and the dead masada Comments (0)

Journey through the Holy Land

Jerusalem

semi-overcast 75 °F

Today was an optional/free day so we signed up for an excursion with lunch.

Our first stop was the 3D model of Jerusalem. The Second Temple Jerusalem Model recreates the city of 66 CE at the height of its glory; the eve of the great revolt of the Jews against the Romans. The city then stretched over some 450 acres. The model, measuring some 1,000 square meters, was created by Professor Avi-Yonah, a leading scholar specializing in ancient Jerusalem. Avi-Yona's reconstruction is based on descriptions from Jewish sources, particularly the Mishnah, and the writings of the contemporary historian Flavius Josephus. He also relied on archaeological finds from Jerusalem and from other Roman cities. At the heart of this impressive city stands the Temple Mount. Kings who built the city, notably the Hasmoneans and their successors, and King Herod and his descendants, were greatly influenced by the Greco-Roman culture. This is clearly reflected in the style of the buildings, and in the layout of the streets; in the holy precinct at the top of the hill; the public water facilities, and other dedicatory monumental buildings as well as in the sports and entertainment facilities. A closer look reveals the uniquely Jewish character of Jerusalem. First, there is only one sacred precinct - the Temple Mount - with a single temple, to one God. Second, the city has no sculptures, or reliefs depicting human figures and animals, in accordance with the second of the Ten Commandment: Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image. The magnificence of the city as it replicated in the model did not last for long. In 66 CE the Great Revolt against the Romans broke out, and in 70 CE, after five years of fighting, the city was destroyed and the Temple burnt down.

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We then went to the most impressive Yad Vashem. One of Yad Vashem's tasks is to honor non-Jews who risked their lives, liberty, or positions to save Jews during the Holocaust. To this end, a special independent commission, headed by a retired Supreme Court justice, was established. The commission members, including historians, public figures, lawyers, and Holocaust survivors, examine and evaluate each case according to a well-defined set of criteria and regulations. The Righteous receive a certificate of honor and a medal, and their names are commemorated in the Garden of the Righteous Among the Nations] on the Mount of Remembrance, Yad Vashem. This is an ongoing project that will continue for as long as there are valid requests, substantiated by testimonies or documentation. Five hundred and fifty-five individuals were recognized during 2011, and as of 2021, more than 27,921 individuals have been recognized as Righteous Among the Nations. Yad Vashem's declared policy is not to provide meaningful recognition, even in a possible new category, to Jews who rescued Jews, regardless of the number of people their activism saved. The stated reason is that Jews had an obligation to save fellow Jews and do not deserve recognition.

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It was then lunch at the City View Resaurant.

After lunch we headed into the desert to visit the Museum of the Good Samaritans and the Museum of Mosaics. The Inn is named after the New Testament's Parable of the Good Samaritan, and houses a museum of ancient mosaics and other archaeological findings mostly dating from the 4th-7th centuries that were collected from churches and Jewish and Samaritan synagogues from the West Bank and from the ancient Gaza synagogue. Beginning in biblical times, Jewish pilgrims from the Galilee took the nearby Jerusalem-Jericho road to worship at the Temple in Jerusalem. In later times, Christian pilgrims used the road to reach the baptismal site of Jesus on the Jordan River, near Jericho. The area of the Inn of the Good Samaritan was repeatedly fortified, and traveller-inns were built a little below the hilltop. This is reflected in the presence of two distinct, if related, archaeological sites in close proximity to each other, the other site being the ruins of a castle believed to have been built by King Herod although today they are separated by the modern Jerusalem–Jericho highway. Today, the Inn of the Good Samaritan is a mosaic museum.

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Posted by rpickett 16:27 Archived in Israel Tagged jerusalem Comments (0)

Journey through the Holy Land

Old Jerusalem

sunny 75 °F

Today was all about retracing the Passion of the Christ.

Our first stop was the Garden of Gethsemane and the Church of All Nations or Church of the Agony. According to the four Gospels of the New Testament, Jesus underwent the agony in the garden and was arrested before his crucifixion. The Church of All Nations, also known as the Church or Basilica of the Agony, is a Roman Catholic church located on the Mount of Olives in East Jerusalem, next to the Garden of Gethsemane. It enshrines a section of bedrock where Jesus is said to have prayed before his arrest.

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We then braved the traffic to the Mount of Olives to get a spectacular view of the Old CIty.

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It was then time to make the trek through old Jerusalem. Our first stop was the Western Wall. It is extensive, and, because it was Sabbat, we could not take pictures. It is a relatively small segment of a far longer ancient retaining wall, known also in its entirety as the "Western Wall". The wall was originally erected as part of the expansion of the Second Jewish Temple begun by Herod the Great, which resulted in the encasement of the natural, steep hill known to Jews and Christians as the Temple Mount, in a huge rectangular structure topped by a flat platform, thus creating more space for the Temple itself, its auxiliary buildings, and crowds of worshipers and visitors. In one of several varying Muslim traditions, it is the site where the Islamic Prophet Muhammad tied his winged steed, al-Buraq, on his Isra and Mi'raj to Jerusalem before ascending to paradise, and constitutes the western border of al-Haram al-Sharif ("the Noble Sanctuary"), or the Al-Aqsa compound. The Western Wall's holiness in Judaism is a result of its proximity to the Temple Mount. Because of the Temple Mount entry restrictions, the Wall is the holiest place where Jews are permitted to pray, though the site of the Holy of Holies, the most sacred site in the Jewish faith, lies behind it.

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It was then on to the It is a relatively small segment of a far longer ancient retaining wall, known also in its entirety as the "Western Wall". The wall was originally erected as part of the expansion of the Second Jewish Temple begun by Herod the Great, which resulted in the encasement of the natural, steep hill known to Jews and Christians as the Temple Mount, in a huge rectangular structure topped by a flat platform, thus creating more space for the Temple itself, its auxiliary buildings, and crowds of worshipers and visitors.

In one of several varying Muslim traditions, it is the site where the Islamic Prophet Muhammad tied his winged steed, al-Buraq, on his Isra and Mi'raj to Jerusalem before ascending to paradise, and constitutes the western border of al-Haram al-Sharif ("the Noble Sanctuary"), or the Al-Aqsa compound.

The Western Wall's holiness in Judaism is a result of its proximity to the Temple Mount. Because of the Temple Mount entry restrictions, the Wall is the holiest place where Jews are permitted to pray, though the site of the Holy of Holies, the most sacred site in the Jewish faith, lies behind it.

We traversed the Stations of the cross to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre: The second holiest place on earth besides Bethlehem for Christians. According to traditions dating back to the 4th century, it contains the two holiest sites in Christianity: the site where Jesus was crucified, at a place known as Calvary or Golgotha, and Jesus's empty tomb, where he is believed by Christians to have been buried and resurrected. Each time the church was rebuilt, some of the antiquities from the preceding structure were used in the newer renovation. The tomb itself is enclosed by a 19th-century shrine called the Aedicule. The Status Quo, an understanding between religious communities dating to 1757, applies to the site.
Within the church proper are the last four stations of the Cross of the Via Dolorosa, representing the final episodes of the Passion of Jesus. The church has been a major Christian pilgrimage destination since its creation in the 4th century, as the traditional site of the resurrection of Christ, thus its original Greek name, Church of the Anastasis ('Resurrection'). Control of the church itself is shared, a simultaneum, among several Christian denominations and secular entities in complicated arrangements essentially unchanged for over 160 years, and some for much longer. The main denominations sharing property over parts of the church are the Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Armenian Apostolic, and to a lesser degree the Coptic, Syriac, and Ethiopian Orthodox churches.

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Our last two stops were the Room of the Last Supper and the Tomb of King David, but because it was Sabbat, we could not photograph David's Tomb. David's Tomb is a site that, according to an early-medieval (9th-century) tradition, is associated with the burial of the biblical King David.[Historians, archaeologists and Jewish religious authorities do not consider the site to be the actual resting place of King David. It occupies the ground floor of a former church, whose upper floor holds the Cenacle or "Upper Room" traditionally identified as the place of Jesus' Last Supper and the original meeting place of the early Christian community of Jerusalem.

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Posted by rpickett 15:57 Archived in Israel Tagged old jerusalem Comments (0)

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