Muscat, Oman to Aqaba, Jordan
Our final sea day of the current voyage from Muscat to Aqaba and the final lengthy stretch of sea days until we depart Glasgow about the middle of next month. The winds have eased today to 15 to 20 kts and with a low swell is affording us a relatively stable sailing.
Temperature: High 33C/91F, Low 26C/79F, Humidity 79%
Wind/Weather: NW’ly winds of about 20 kts, low swell, fine & clear
Clox: Z+3 (no change)
Distance to Noon: 2,202 miles since departure Muscat
Throughout the day Sea Princess maintained a NNW’ly course of 332 degrees at a speed of 18.2 kts through the Red Sea. A couple of notable points occurred in the early hours this morning:
- Crossed the 23rd parallel and shortly thereafter crossed the Tropic of Cancer, at which time we departed the Tropics
- Passed the Sudan/Egypt border on our port side, so we now have Saudi Arabia to Stbd and Egypt to Port
- Dropped 1 main engine (intentionally) and are now running full speed on 3 engines, to conserve fuel.
Based on today’s schedule, we planned on attending the following:
- 09:45 Port Talk on Suez Canal
- 11:00 An audience with Captain William Kent
- 12:30 Lunch
- 15:30 Celebrity Liars Club
- 16:30 PM Trivia
- 18:30 Dinner in Horizon Court Buffet
Judi slept in this morning so I headed down for breakfast and then to the Princess Theatre for the remainder of the morning. The first activity was the port lecture for the Suez Canal, while not technically a port of call, it was fairly interesting.
Port lecturer Hutch making the Suez Canal presentation. Unfortunately they were unable to synchronise his laptop to the projector, so we only saw about 1/4 of each slide, which was magnified to fill the entire screen. The resultant was very blurred and hard on the eyes, so no screen shots from this lecture. He started off with a history of the canal, with the first canals dating from about 1500 BC. The numerous attempts lasted up to a couple hundred years before being abandoned or simply silting. The current canal was envisaged in the late 1790’s by the French, when plans were abandoned as surveys erroneously indicated a substantial height differential between the Meddy and Red Sea. The French and Egyptians formed a joint venture in 1859, commencing the construction of the current canal, which took 10 years to construct. The British were concerned their extensive maritime trade interests would be reduced and when the Egyptians placed their shares up for sale, they were immediately purchased by the British Government, who later raided Egypt, taking complete control of the canal. The canal has been closed down twice – 1956 and from the late 1960’s to 1975. I’ll provide a more in depth history and information of the canal on the day we make the transit.
The next activity in the Princess Theatre was at 11:00, or in about 45 minutes. Seats would be at a premium for an audience with the Captain, so I elected to remain seated and read a book.
Cruise Director Peter and Captain William Kent
The format was very laid back, with both the Cruise Director and Captain sitting on the stage. Obviously pre-prepared questions were asked by the Cruise Director, which were then answered by the Captain. A selection are:
- Where are you from – Captain responded Boston in Lincolnshire and provided a detailed family history dating back to Danish roots
- How did you start at sea – Captain advised he joined his first ship at 16.5 years of age in October 1974, flying out to an Indian port. It was a cadet training ship with over 50 cadets. It was most likely a ship called the MV Otaio, as I also spent my first trip to sea on her, joining her in London on August 20th 1975. However, just shy of 18, I was a shade older.
- When did you become a Deck Officer – he was promoted on 1st December 1978, joining P&O Passenger Division, but his first ship was a tanker, which was most likely a Chemical Tanker from Pan-Ocean Anco, another P&O Company. This means Capt Kent was 1 month behind me, as I was promoted on 1st November 1978, but I completed drydocks on Canberra and Uganda before joining a chemical tanker in Feb 1979.
- How long did it take to reach Captain – he was promoted Captain of the old Regal Princess in 2004, so about 30 years of schooling and onboard training/mentoring to prepare for the ultimate rank at sea. Having left P&O/Princess Cruises in 1981, I was promoted very quickly in BC Ferries, first relieving as Captain in 1985 at the age of 28.
- What is your favourite cruising area/ship – Meddy cruising because of the variety of ports and the history. Favourite ship is his current command, the Sea Princess.
At the end of the interview the Captain took a number of questions from the audience and I am pleased to report that none of them were a stupid as the one given to the Chief Engineer yesterday. The questions were very reasonable and none of them even touched on piracy/security.
I returned to the cabin and while Judi is still rather uncomfortable, she is free of isolation and can now depart the cabin, so we headed down for lunch. Not a terrific menu, so I had the Salmon salad, which was excellent. Nice piece of salmon, with fresh lettuce, tomato and boiled egg.
This afternoon we headed down to the Vista Lounge for Celebrity Liar’s Club, which was brilliant. The panellists were Peter & Dan (Cruise Director/Dep Cruise Director) and the 2 comedians Jo & Ivor. All 4 were Brits. They had to provide the definition of a word and the teams had to guess who was telling the truth. However, the game show component was an excuse for about an hour of stand-up comedy. Thankfully the average age is over 70 and none of the children were present, as at times the humour was definitely 18+ rated. All 4 played off each other and it was the best comedy show since we boarded in Sydney, with the audience laughing wildly. Even Jill from the Cruise Staff, as the MC, could not keep a straight face and was frequently found doubled up with laughter.
With a long tour tomorrow, we elected to forgo the late dinner and have an earlier dinner upstairs in the buffet. We headed up about 18:30 finding 4 of our tablemates with the same idea, so we all garnered a table. The location is definitely an improvement over the dining room, as we sat and watched the sunset. Rather impressive tonight with the slight haze, which provided some vivid colours. Tried the roast beef and if that was cow, it died of old age. One of the toughest most inedible pieces of meat I have tried in many years. Needless to say everyone returned the meat uneaten. For desert I tried the bread and butter pudding and custard. It was as bad as the beef – bread & butter pudding lasted terrible and the custard was overly sweet and not hot. That also got returned uneaten.
As another day closes, we bid you farewell, till tomorrow and hope for fair skies and following seas.