Ever since the first protests and eventual toppling of the Egyptian government, there has been some question as to whether we would actually be making our port calls in Egypt. But eventually Regent decided to go ahead with our visit albeit somewhat modified. We were very happy about this especially for the passengers who had never visited this historic land. Our first stop in Egypt was at the port of Safaga. Just as we got there a ferry arrived from Saudi Arabia. It looked like every Saudi in Egypt was returning from their pilgrimage to Mecca. These modern day Bedouins had their mattresses, bikes, toys, bags, doors, dressers all piled in a heap. I have never seen such a jumble come off a ship. All the while the burqa clad Saudi women with their kids were sitting on the curb waiting for the pickup trucks to come and carry all the stuff away.
Safaga is the gateway to Luxor and the Valley of the Kings. We spent a week there about ten years ago on a Nile River cruise and have revisited this historic region several times. Most of the passengers made the three hour bus ride to
Luxor in a guarded convoy. We decided to visit the ancient port of Hurghada located on the Red Sea. We hired a taxi and took Marge and Sandy with us to the old market area of town. Spices were the predominant offerings. But it was nice to wander around some place that hasn't been overrun with modern malls and tour buses. We marveled at the azure water of the Red Sea. It sparkled with the prettiest colors we have seen since Tahiti.
The president of Regent boarded in Safaga after a long flight from Florida. We were surprised to see Mark Conroy hobbling around on crutches. This avid runner tripped while walking his dog. His luggage decided to take a holiday in London so he was scrounging around looking for some dressy clothes. Mr Conroy held a town hall meeting and discussed some of the future plans for Regent. He mentioned that he is hoping for a world cruise in 2013 and that a new ship will be ordered soon. Mark fielded some questions, heard some criticisms and accepted some accolades for putting out an excellent product.
We had a very short stop in Sharm el Sheikh so
MARK CONROY & RALPH DE KLIJN
Regent President & Voyager GM
we took the shuttle to town. This is a famous Red Sea Diving area. The water is still a bit chilly but that didn’t deter us. We drove past the hospital where the deposed Egyptian president and his wife are currently residing. The hospital was surrounded by army troops and tanks. The Arab Spring has not been kind to Mr and Mrs Mubarak.
We have noticed in all of Arabia the huge numbers of Russian travelers. It seems that they are the only ones willing to travel here right now. Every sign we saw was written in Arabic and Russian. We have been reading articles espousing the joy of Egyptian travel without the crowds. Other than the Russians and a few cruise ships there has been a precipitous drop in visitors in a country which is extremely dependent upon the tourist dollar. Hopefully travelers will return soon so that this budding democracy can keep its youth employed and the economy stabilized.
The Voyager was the lead ship heading the convoy up the Suez Canal. There were 20 vessels in our group making the all day passage up the “ditch.” Sandra Bowern gave a nice commentary as we cruised
along, talking about the geography, the politics and the wars in this valuable waterway. This is our sixth trip through the canal and it is the first time we have seen small fishing boats sharing the waters with us. There are various monuments to some of the Egypt/Israeli conflicts and plenty of military patrolling the canal. Someone wrote that Egypt is not a country that has an army but an army that has a country. It seems so, especially in these unsettled times.
We arrived in Port Said at sunset in order to pick up the passengers who had gone overland from Safaga to Luxor and Cairo. The local authorities gave our ship permission to allow passengers access to the dock. I'm sure it was due to pressure applied by the merchants who sell their wares on the pier. We were ashore for 20 minutes and had to go through Egyptian security in order to re-board. I got a full pat down by a female guard---much to my surprise. I only got off the ship to help the local economy. We cast off just as a full moon was rising and passed into the lovely Mediterranean Sea. We bid
farewell to Arabia with hopes for a successful outcome to the Arab Spring movement. Next stop---Israel.
Tot: 2.649s; Tpl: 0.053s; cc: 33; qc: 127; dbt: 0.0811s; 2; m:saturn w:www (18.104.22.168); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.6mb