Episode 233 – Suez Canal Day Two

March 26, 2022. Temperature steadily rising as we move south.

#myvikingstory

We lined up to enter the Suez Canal at Port Said last night just before midnight, in convoy and guided by an English-speaking pilot who remained on our bridge throughout the journey through the canal. Although the canal is theoretically wide enough for 2 ships, transit is done single file and in one direction at a time.

This was the first thing we saw when we awoke around 7:30 a.m.
One of our two escort boats is visible in the photo.

It seemed we might have been first into the canal, since we had gorgeous unimpeded forward views for hours. That was confirmed by fellow passengers using the MarineTraffic app. The app showed a long line of ships behind us, but a combination of haze and the distance enforced between ships meant that we couldn’t see the next one in line. That was very different from the close spacing we had in the Panama Canal.

The Viking Star is the blue arrow leading the pack.

The ship behind us would never get any closer, since everyone in the convoy travels at exactly the same speed.

Today we had one of our guest lecturers narrating our movement through the canal, which was really helpful in ensuring that we didn’t miss any of the major sites on either shore.

I was a bit surprised to see rows of fishing boats lined up along the banks of the canal, but this is after all a place where people live and work. By comparison, there were no fishing boats in the Panama Canal – there they stayed in the parallel lakes and waterways.

The fisherman below was directly in our path in the canal. Our trip narrator described it as the most skewed game of chicken imaginable. It seemed as if the fishing boat waited until the very last minute to haul in its nets and paddle out of our way.

Photo credit A. Yoshimura (thanks, Al!) And yes, the water really is that green!
Another typical fishing boat in the canal.

There were several monuments along the canal route, as well as sand art pictures and signs.

Zoomed in on the Monument to the Unknown Soldier of the Sinai Peninsula War.
AK47 and Bayonet monument to the Egyptian soldiers lost in the 1973 Yom Kippur War. You can get a sense of how hazy it was on the east side of the canal.
The Suez Canal Defence Monument at Ismalia, Egypt. The monument was designed by the French, is 50 meters high, 240 meters long and used 4,700 tons of granite in the building. The monument was erected to commemorate the defence of the Canal Zone from the threat of the Turkish Army in WWI. (http://www.maritimequest.com/misc_pages/monuments_memorials/suez_canal_monument.htm)

It’s been a while since cruise ships have been operating. Both civilians and military personnel shouted and waved as we passed.

This group were waiting for the ferry across the canal.
Beautiful buildings alongside in Ismailia.

On the west side of the canal is the Nile delta, with lots of greenery.

The east side of the canal is the arid Sinai. Sand, sand everywhere. We had a stunningly beautiful calm day, but it must be spectacular (in a terrifying kind of way) during a sandstorm!

At around 10:00 a.m. two massive ships appeared ahead of us! We had reached the point where the canal splits into two channels just north of Great Bitter Lake. The lake is where ships will have to “park” until their further route is clear.

The Viking Star is the blue arrow, designating us as a passenger ship.
Green arrows are cargo ships; red are tankers. Nearing Great Bitter Lake in the centre is the traffic from the other direction. The lake should soon become a parking lot.

One of the oncoming ships, the BW TULIP, an LNG Tanker that was built in 2018 and sails under the flag of Singapore. Its carrying capacity is 173400 cubic meters of Liquid Natural Gas.

Twice we cruised by huge dredging ships removing sand from the canal bottom to ensure ships don’t get grounded.

We exited the canal at Suez at around 3 p.m. and were suddenly in the Gulf of Suez on the Red Sea.

Viking calls days like this “scenic sailing”, and today certainly lived up to that moniker!

Our day continued with a wonderful dinner in the Chef’s Table. Tonight’s theme was Asian Panorama.

Top left: the amuse bouche was sweet crab with avocado, edamame, a touch of tabasco sauce and a coconut foam and curry dust, served with Quinta da Aveleda vinho verde from Portugal. Bottom left: the first course of lobster, shrimp and chicken stuffed shu mai dumplings, served with Castellero di Diablo chardonnay from Chile. Top right: palate cleansing lemongrass and red chili granita with lychee foam. Second right: Peking duck Viking style, with shredded duck in a spring roll wrap made to look like a Viking ship with crispy duck skin sails, served with mandarin pancakes, sliced duck breast, carrot and cucumber slaw, and hoisin sauce, accompanied by Tassajara pinot noir from California’s Monterey Valley. Third on left: dessert trio. Silky smooth Matcha green tea cheesecake, yuzu citrus crème brûlée, and banana chocolate spring roll, served with sweet Domaine Uby 4 from Côtes de Gascognes France. This may have been our favourite Chef’s Table menu yet.
Bottom right: Chef de Cuisine Wayan who created this delicious menu,

After dinner we were entertained by British magician Leo Ward, and then ended our night in the Torshavn lounge where, after a couple of Japanese martinis, I was convinced to go up on stage and do a karaoke version of “Ticket to Ride”. Yikes.

Thank goodness for my “backup singers” Ana-Lyn and Jeffrey.

14 comments

  1. I remember going through the Canal as an eight-year-old in 1952 and the Egyptians on the banks protesting because we were on a British ship. We were prevented from docking at Port Said.

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  2. Hello. I am enjoying reading about your experiences. Ramadan starts Saturday, April 2nd. Not sure if you all will be going on excursions in Egypt or Jordan at that time. If you are, it would be interesting to learn if there are any changes made because of the holiday.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you so much for this informative and picturesque blog. I am following your World Cruise blog and enjoying it very much. I hope the rest of your cruise is smooth sailing.

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  4. That was a fun read. Very interesting and informative as always. Love the dress Rose, and wow, didn’t know you were an entertainer yourself. 😉

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  5. Wayan was the Chefs Table chef on our WC and also taught the sea day cooking classes. Tell him Lynda (who didn’t eat beef) says hello. Are there cooking classes now?

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  6. What a great day and description! Of course my favorite part is the performance at the end…so fun! I have to ask, as someone who is booked for next year’s WC…have you and/or other passengers been homesick/missing family? It looks as though we’ll be kept very busy and maybe won’t be sad, but then that’s hard to imagine since we’ve never been gone for four months at a time. No rush for comments; just curious.

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    • We’re somewhat unique in not having a home, but generally folks talk about missing their kids/grandkids only in that they’re looking forward to seeing them after the cruise. The majority of passengers don’t seem to live near their extended families anyway, so are used to going months with only Facetime. The young crew, on the other hand, definitely miss their families while completing anywhere from 4-9 month contracts.

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  7. What an interesting read! I had no idea what the Suez canal might look like. It’s not as barren as I imagined and much wider. I’m glad that fishermen are permitted to share all that water, though it looks a little dangerous.
    Where’s the MP3 of your karaoke performance? ;-> I’m so impressed that you dared! Thanks very much for sharing all this.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. What an informative and detailed description of your day including the sand art, the ship’s movements, Chef’s Table presentations, and your ending the day with a performance. What a great day! Thanks for sharing.

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