Published: May 14th 2012May 14th 2012
headed north through the canal with Azamara Quest in the lead
May 9, 2012 Nautica entered the Suez Canal very early this morning. It took approximately 10 hours for the journey to Port Said and the Mediterranean Sea. There is a constant stream of ships transiting the canal. Some have to anchor in the Great Bitter Lake near the middle, until their turn to continue. Most segments of the canal are too narrow for two way traffic. We were lucky and sailed right through.
The east bank of the canal is the Sinai desert. For the most part it is bleak and sand covered. By contrast the west bank is lush and green due to an extensive irrigation system with water diverted from the Nile delta north of Cairo. The “sweet water” canal system was originally designed in the mid 19th century to provide drinking water for workers constructing the Suez Canal. When that was finished in 1869 the fresh water canal was converted to agricultural use.
The Egyptians are very sensitive about maintaining control of the canal. It is a major source of income for the nation. We were told that for Nautica to enter the canal required a payment of around $250,000. All transit
floating bridge next to the canal
Egypt keeps floating bridges positioned at various points along the Suez that can be used for military crossing in case of war and a need to get to the Sinai quickly, a lesson from the '67 war
fees have to be credited to the Egyptian government account before a ship may enter the canal entrance. I saw Egyptian soldiers with machine guns walking along both sides the whole way. They seemed friendly enough and either whistled or waved as we passed. There were several large memorials built along the route commemorating battles that have been fought over control of the canal as recent as the late 1960s. The Egyptians have not gotten over losing the entire Sinai to Israel in the 1967 was and are damned sure not going to let it happen again.
Nautica just passed Port Said and is sailing toward Haifa, Israel. This will be our last stop before heading to Athens and from there, home.
There are more photos below