Published: April 19th 2012April 19th 2012
Today was like going out on a tour without having the leave the comfort of our cabin because we have spent the entire day transiting the Suez Canal. For a while last night we weren’t certain we’d make it today because yesterday’s sand storm caused the authorities to shut the Canal last night. Apparently there was zero visibility so we had to stay in Sokhna until it reopened. We were due to sail at 8.30 yesterday evening but didn’t get going until about 1 o’clock in the morning. Boats go through the canal in convoys and the schedule was definitely shot to bits by the sand storm. We anchored up with 31 other ships and were due to sail north after the first of the south-bound convoys came through. But the storm had stopped the south-bound ships leaving so we were actually the first convoy through today and we were the lead ship in the convoy too. Ships have about a 9-minute gap between them so we had a clear view ahead of us and only occasionally caught a glimpse of the ship behind us.
The Suez is so different from the Panama because there are no locks. But it is a fascinating waterway with parts being large lakes and parts being long straight stretches of water passing between Egypt’s irrigated land to the left of us and the arid desert of the Sinai to the right of us. The most common sights are military ones: look-out towers, army camps, loads of tanks, check points and, of course, soldiers … mostly armed but keen to shout and wave to the ship. Mainly the traffic here is laden cargo ships so a huge cruise ship like us must make a nice change to the routine. By the time we got about half way along the canal we left the sandy haze behind us and we are now cruising in much clearer, sunnier air. A road follows the canal all the way and I think drivers there get the best view. Apparently you can’t see the water from the road but you can see the ships gliding by so it must look very strange indeed from their perspective.
Tomorrow we spend the day in the Med heading for Athens with just 1 week of our trip left. I reckon that’s just 23 meals before I have to cook again, and do the washing up. I guess it’s too much to ask for any sympathy?!!