March 26, 2022. Temperature steadily rising as we move south.
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.
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 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.
There were several monuments along the canal route, as well as sand art pictures and signs.
It’s been a while since cruise ships have been operating. Both civilians and military personnel shouted and waved as we passed.
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.
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.
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.