Are you considering a Norwegian Cruise Line vacation that includes a port stop in Israel? While not as conservative as some other neighboring countries, it's still important to do some careful planning and make sure you have appropriate attire for when you're off the ship. To assist with your pre-cruise planning, here are some of the must-have items for your Israel wardrobe.
1. Pack Lots of Layers
It goes without saying that layering is the easiest way to plan your wardrobe when it comes to packing for a wide variety of destinations or ones where there are cultural norms that must be followed — not to mention weather can be unpredictable in many destinations. What if you packed all warm weather clothes and there is a sudden and unexpected cold front? While you can probably easily run out and buy a jacket, if you brought all winter clothes and the weather turns out to be considerably hotter, you can't remove a heavy sweater in the warm sun if you have nothing underneath it.
For women, throw a thin sweater and scarf in your bag while walking around. This will help ensure you have appropriate attire for any religious buildings you plan to enter as well.
2. Pick Breathable Fabrics for Summer
Purchase outfits or bring clothes that are made with breathable fabrics. Cotton and linen are good choices because they are lightweight and breathable. The heat in Israel can start around April and typically lasts through the month of October. Rain is quite rare during the summer months, so you don't necessarily need to worry about getting drenched in your light linens.
3. Have an Umbrella or Raincoat for Winter
If you're cruising to Israel in the wintertime, it can get chilly and some parts of the country even see snow. It does rain a lot during the winter, so you'd be wise to bring a raincoat or umbrella with you off your Norwegian cruise ship so you don't get drenched during your time in port.
4. Bring Modest Attire
You're likely to see a wide variety of looks in larger cities, but modesty is still key. If you plan to visit any religious sites, you'll need to ensure you are dressed appropriately as well. Some good guidelines to keep in mind:
- For Women: Tops should cover the collar bone and extend at least down below the elbow. You should not wear pants as a woman, and your skirt length needs to be at least below your knee. If you're not comfortable wearing a skirt all day, bring a long pull-on skirt in your bag that you can throw over your clothing if you end up needing it. It beats being told that you came all this way and can't get inside whatever attraction you're looking at.
- For Men: If a man is going to wear shorts, they need to be long. Pants are always better, and you should avoid all sleeveless tops.
Fortunately, Israel clearly states what the rules are when you visit certain sites. For example, at most Jewish, Christian, and Muslim holy sites, the Armenian Quarter, and St. James Cathedral, you will not be allowed in if you do not meet the posted dress code rules. The dress code at the Western Wall is more relaxed, but having the scarf and long skirt in your bag can be helpful if you run into issues.
5. Avoid Wearing a Keffiyeh in Jewish Areas
A keffiyeh is the traditional head wrap worn by Arab men. It's usually red and white or sometimes a black and white checkered pattern. If you are visiting a Jewish or Israeli town, you should avoid wearing one, as you will stand out and may even be perceived as threatening. Nothing may happen, but you could get some stares and maybe someone calls the cops to check your identification.
6. Go for Plain Shirts and Leave the Political and Offensive T-Shirts at Home
While it's tempting to bring your favorite political T-shirt on vacation, you should skip those types of shirts in religious countries like Israel. In addition, avoid any shirts that have Arabic or Hebrew language on them. Err on the side of caution and go with plain shirts while you're visiting Israel, and then there is no gray area on whether it's appropriate or at risk of accidentally offending someone.
7. Keep it Casual
You don't need to pack fancy clothing for Israel, as most people tend to dress fairly casually. Even those working in large corporations are not necessarily wearing suits every day. It's common to see jeans and T-shirts, except at the religious sites and neighborhoods as previously mentioned.
8. Bring the Swimsuit
If you're concerned about swimwear in Israel, people do wear bathing suits. If you're doing a shore excursion that includes water activities, you should bring your beachwear. If your cruise stops in Haifa, taking a dip in the Dead Sea is definitely a possibility, and that's followed by a visit to a national Jewish shrine. Bring your cover-up or a sarong for by the beach when you get out and a change of clothes for the subsequent stop at the Jewish shrine.
Norwegian offers several cruise itineraries that include stops in Israel. Be sure to sign up for email and check our cruise deals for the latest offers.