Dawn Princess World Cruise: The Suez Canal
Originally, the Dawn Princess World Cruise had two scheduled stops in Egypt – first Port Safaga (map) and then Port Said (map).Â But engine problemsÂ caused the Dawn Princess to take a couple of unplanned stops (ironically on the same day that we had a pirate drill)Â in the middle of the Arabian Sea. Then we started moving again, but atÂ reduced speed, towardsÂ the Red Sea and Egypt.
As a result, the stop at Port Safaga was cancelled, much to the disappointment of the passengers looking forward to shore excursions to Luxor, the Temple ofÂ Karnak (map,Â and the Valley of the Kings.
Instead, the ship slowly made itâ€™s way up the Red Sea, heading for the Suez Canal and Port Said where mechanics waited to check out and ensure that the engine problems were totally fixed.
The Suez Canal – A Birdâ€™s Eye View
It might not be as old as the pyramids, but the Suez Canal (map) is just as unique. From ancient times, people dreamed of a water passage between the Red Sea and the Mediterranean. But it wasnâ€™t until the mid 1800â€™s that the dream became a reality thanks to Ferdinard de Lesseps who had not only the vision but also the determination to get the Suez canal built.
These days, the Suez Canal is one of the busiest shipping route in the world, with three convoys of ships passing through each day.Â Each convoy usually consists of up to 20 ships, ranging from colourful freighters to sleek yachts and the occasional cruise ship.
The day that the Dawn Princess journeyed along the Suez Canal, the sun was shining, the birds were singing, and the passengers were buzzing. After this was the closest we had been to land in seven days.
With Egypt on the left and Sinai (map) on the right, there was plenty to see.
As expected, the Egyptian side was not only more developed, it was also greener (thanks to irrigation systems provided by the Nile Valley region).Â We see houses and gardens along the banks, apartments, schools, and mosques in the background, giving a real sense of community. Half way up the Suez Canal, in the busy city of Ismalia (map), there are large waterfront resorts where Â Egyptians come to vacation. Of course, there are also plenty ofÂ strategically placed military bases and watchtowers housing armed soldiers monitoring the area.
In the Sinai, however, there is less signs of communityÂ life. Predominantly sand dunes and desert, there are no houses or apartments to be seen, only military bases and watchtowers interspersed with the occasional mosque.
As the crew steered the Dawn Princess slowly up the canal, itâ€™s passengers sat, watched, and waved at the soldiers in the watchtowers who happily waved back.
And so it went on, for most of the day, until the ship arrived at itâ€™s destination of Port Said at the northern end of the Suez Canal.
(photo credit: Liz Lewis)
APort Safaga, Al - Bahr El_ahmarPort Safaga, Al - Bahr El_ahmar, EgyptView Details and Book
BPort SaidView Details and Book
CKarnak, Al - Karnak Al - Gadid, Al - Uqsur, QenaKarnak, Al - Karnak Al - Gadid, Al - Uqsur, Qena, EgyptView Details and Book
DSuez CanalSuez Canal, EgyptView Details and Book
EMont SinaiMont Sina?, Sharm el Sheik, EgyptView Details and Book
FIsmailiaIsmailia, EgyptView Details and Book