Suez Canal Transit

May 25, 2019

Yesterday we were at sea in the Gulf of Suez.  Ray, our cruise director, created another event – Arabian Nights, and Mario had an Arabian buffet in the Terrace Café.  The show was at 5:30 so that we could have a deck party at night.

We originally had a transit time through the Suez at night but that changed to a day transit, so we were anchored outside the canal until early morning hours when we would begin the transit. As Ray said, this is “Egypt time” so there is no telling when the transit would actually begin but we are sure to be anchored for the deck party.

What a fun night!  I had the abaya and hijab that I had to purchase in Abu Dhabi on a previous trip and Norm had the fly net from Australia..  Here are our outfits.  The flies are everywhere through the Suez.

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Many of the waiters and crew were also dressed up.  And the buffet was fantastic (as always!)

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We had a great time at the deck party. They had 2 for 1 drinks because there were too many good outfits to give prizes.  Lots of people thought Norm was the most creative!

Here are some pictures from the deck party.  Not all came out great because of lighting.

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And here are Andy and me in the casino after the party.

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Now for the Suez Canal.  This is our third passage, and there are some changes for sure.  We call it “day in a ditch” because there are no locks and it is really kind of a boring trip.  There are very wide areas and then some that are quite narrow.  It can take about 11 hours for the full transit and only one ship at a time – so there is kind of a convoy.

The first part of the canal was completed between 1860 and 1862 and had an immediate and dramatic effect on world trade and played an important role in increasing European penetration and colonization of Africa.  There was a lot of unrest and tension between Egypt and the UK and in 1954 the British agreed to pull out and Egypt’s president Nassar nationalized the canal.  This caused Britain, France and Israel to invade in the week long 1956 Suez War. As a result of the damage, the canal was closed until April 1957.  A UN peacekeeping force has protected the canal since 1974. About 14% of world shipping passes through the canal each year.

In 2015 Egypt officially unveiled its expansion to the Suez Canal which was completed in one third of the time originally estimated.  This added an additional 22 mile shipping lane and widened the current canal.  This allows an increase of the number of ships that can transit in a day from 50 to 97 and reduces the time of travel from 18 hours to the current 11 hours.

Here are some pictures from along the way.  There are security checkpoints, ferries that take people and cars across as well as floating bridges that can be moved into place.

Lots of development is taking place.  You see the mosques (and by the way, notice the loudspeakers – every mosque has them to announce the call to prayer 5 times each day).

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The last picture shows a ship in the additional shipping lane.

Today, Ray announced something different.  We will have a time change at 2 PM instead of doing it at night!  We move one hour ahead before Israel. Lots of people are doing overnight tours and many are leaving early on day long tours so he thought it would be cool to change the time in mid day.

We are very excited to go to Tel Aviv tomorrow and meet our son Mark and his fiancé Ramsay.  They have been traveling in Israel for 10 days and extended their trip so that we could meet them!  We will stay in Tel Aviv overnight and reboard on Monday when they will fly back to Boston and we will head to Cyprus and the start of our Mediterranean ports.  There will be very few sea days and lots of adventures in the ports in  Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Monaco, Spain, Portugal and France. 

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