Thursday, April 07, 2011

Suez Canal

Thursday April 7, 2011 12:05 PM (5:05 AM EDT)

I am a bit behind on describing our cruise so I had better catch up. On
Monday April 4 we sailed up the Red Sea and into the Gulf of Suez,
arriving about 5:00 PM. Because transiting the Suez Canal is allowed
only during daylight hours - as opposed to the Panama Canal - we
anchored at the entrance to the canal along to a number of vessels which
were also transiting the canal to get to the Mediterranean Sea. These
ships would constitute a convoy going north up the canal. Because
shipping in the Suez Canal is only one-way, the north bound convoy goes
only as far as a large lake, moves to the eastern portion of the lake
while the south bound convoy passes.

In the morning of Tuesday, the 5th, we entered the canal at Port Suez at
about 6:00 AM followed by a number of ships following us up the
southernmost man-made portion of the can up to Little Bitter Lake and
then into Great Bitter Lake where we waited as southbound traffic
passed. The two sides of the canal couldn't be more different. As going
north the land on the western side is developed and farming land as
shown in the photo. This side is in Africa. The eastern side of the
canal, the Sinai Peninsula, is desert and is in Asia.

After waiting for the southbound traffic to pass we continued north into
Lake Limsah (also called Crocodile Lake) and then into the northern,
much longer, man-made portion of the canal up to Port Said and then into
the Mediterranean Sea. We arrived there about 5:00 PM during Bingo
where, by the way, we won $46. (We won an additional $46 on the
preceding Saturday.)

Because of the narrowness of the canal and the consequent one-way
traffic, only about 50 ships pass through the canal on a single day.
However, even if a ship may have to wait a few days (and some do) the
time and cost savings outweigh the alternative of going around Africa.
According to the Captain, the average fee to transit the canal is about
$205,600. I believe he was referring to a cruise ship the size of the
m/s Amsterdam.

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