Suez Canal (Scenic Cruising)

Trip Start Jan 13, 2009
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38
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Trip End May 13, 2009


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Tahitian Princess

Flag of Egypt  ,
Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Suez Canal had long been a dream of maritime shippers. It was first written about by an ancient Pharaoh of Egypt who wanted to have a passage from the Nile River to the Red Sea and also from the Nile River to the Mediterranean Sea. The canal from the Nile to the Red Sea was completed and was in use for thousands of years, but there was no water connection from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea. Even Napoleon contemplated the building of a canal that would link Europe with the eastern continent of Asia. Until the opening of the Suez Canal, merchandise was offloaded in the Mediterranean and carried overland to the Red Sea. There it would again be placed on a ship for further transportation. This all changed on November 17, 1869 when the Suez Canal was opened for traffic. It is a sea level canal built by a French Company but currently owned by Egypt. The canal was nationalized by the Egyptian Government in 1956 and after a military action by Israel, France and Great Britain; it was allowed to stay in Egypt's control but was to be opened to all commerce. The original cost of the canal was about 300 million dollars with more than 3 times that cost being expended for repairs over the years.
 
Today we entered the Suez Canal as the 19th member of a 27 ship convoy transiting north on the canal. We will make the 101 mile journey in eight plus hours as we proceed north toward our next stop in Port Said. Halfway thru the canal, we stopped in Bitter Lake to allow a south bound convoy to pass and then we headed north again. From both the front and back of the ship we stood and looked out on the canal which serves as a continental divide between the continent of Africa and the continent of Asia. In 2005, 18,193 vessels passed thru the canal.
 
 
While yesterday, we were in 110 plus degrees, today if is much cooler. It was 72 degrees during our transit of the canal. The ship moved slowly in line with the convoy at only 8 knots. The speed is kept slow so that the continuous ship wakes will not cause damage to the canal. It was a good day in which we relaxed and monitored our progress thru the canal. We passed by the City of Suez when we entered the canal and passed into the city and port of Port Said, Egypt at the end of the canal. At the end of the canal the land on the starboard side of the ship was but a short distance to the Gaza Strip. Today it was only a desert; quiet and devoid of traffic. As the canal is long, it provides a natural barrier to movement from the mainland of Egypt into the Sinai Peninsula. There are only a few ferries across the canal and one large suspension bridge. But is a desert area, not needing an extensive road infrastructure.
 
During the day Harriet meet Tab Hunter who is on board the ship giving talks about his life in Hollywood. He was nice enough to pose for a picture with Harriet.
 
The ship arrived in Port Said at 7:00PM and we were released to go ashore for a couple of hours. We took full advantage of the early port call and went out in the local area around the ship's dock. It was an easy walk in the evening. Like all deserts, the temperature was nice and cool for the evening.
 
So we spend the day resting up from the long tour in Safaga and resting for the equally long tour in Port Said. It was a needed rest because we will begin a much faster pace as we enter the Mediterranean Sea and many closely spaced ports of call.
 
 
There was no Hunt for Harriet during our transit of the Suez Canal. We did not leave the ship and therefore did not encounter areas that would be good hunting grounds for Harriet. Also as the time between the last port and the scenic cruising of the Suez Canal was so short, there was not time to get the full results from the last hunt in Safaga.
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