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What is the cheapest way to see the ports?

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We are first time cruisers, leaving for the Holy Land cruise at end of October. From what I can see, the shore excursions are very expensive (family of four soon adds up!) and wondered how easy it is to "do it yourself"? Our ports are Istanbul, Athens, Ephesus, Haifa and Ashdod. We would like to travel to Jerusalem when in Israel. Any help or advice would be very much appreciated. We are travelling with two teenagers. Thank-you.

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