Day 30 – At Sea – Jun 20th 2015

Aqaba, Jordan to Suez Canal

A nice relaxing sea day is just what the doctor ordered after the punishing day in the heat of Petra yesterday. However, with minimal sea days from now until Southampton, the days are packed solid with port lectures, enrichment lectures and other activities. After the flat calm of the Gulf of Aqaba, I am pleased to advise that the fresh winds we have become accustomed to are back.

Temperature: High 36C/97F, Low 30C/86F

Wind/Weather: N’ly winds of 25kts, moderate 5’ seas and low swell. Fine and clear

Sunrise/Sunset: 05:46/19:47

Clox: Z+3(no change)

Distance to Noon: 137 miles

Navigation

In the early morning hours Sea Princess steered SW’Ly courses at about 11 kts down the Gulf of Aqaba. Shortly after 07:00 we passed Tiran Island, which is the exit from the Gulf of Aqaba, as we returned to the Red Sea. Course was altered to SSE’ly, followed by various courses, as we rounded Ras Muhammad. About 11:00, once around Ras Muhammad, course was altered to NW’ly at a speed of 12 kts as we entered the Gulf of Suez bound for the entrance to the Suez Canal.

 

Activities

Patter 1 Jun 20th

Patter 2 Jun 20th

Based on today’s schedule we planned to attend:

  • 10:00 Port Talk – Athens (Andy)
  • 10:15 AM Trivia (Judi)
  • 11:00 Enrichment Lecture – Suez Canal
  • 12:00 Enrichment Lecture – Tides and Eclipses Made Easy
  • 13:30 Lunch
  • 14:30 Swimming
  • 18:30 Showtime
  • 19:45 Dinner
  • 21:45 Showtime

At breakfast this morning we sat with 3 other couples and I chatted with those around me about the caravan lifestyle in Australia. They only had a 20’ caravan and rarely if ever stayed in caravan parks, preferring the basic lifestyle of living in the bush. Our style of caravaning is more akin to “Glamping”, as we can barely survive with only a 30 amp electrical supply. Boondocking, we can survive a night, but any longer becomes tedious. It was rather interesting comparing the 2 styles. However, back to our current pastime of cruising.

I spent the morning in the Princess Theatre attending a series of lectures, with the first being the post talk on Athens.

Athens port lecture

He started off with basic information on the Port of Piraeus, which is about 6 miles from Athens. They have 2 cruise ships berths among the myriad of ferry docks and apparently we may only find out which berth we are assigned on entering the leads. I would be surprised, as that eliminates the ability to complete the voyage planning. Next up was a general discussion on some common scams found ashore. Then he provided alternatives to the ship’s tours, using the train/buses from Piraeus to Athens, which cost 4 Euro for a day pass. He then provided a description of the key attractions in Athens.

 

The next lecture was about the Suez Canal, presented by one of the guest lecturers Michael Bendon. He researched in great detail all the material he presented and has it committed to memory, as he uses no notes during the presentation.

Enrichment Lecture Suez Canal with street sign from Sydney 

His opening slide is apparently from a street in Sydney and while we had many Sydney residents in the audience, none admitted to being aware of the street. Prior to joining the ship he was unaware the Port Lecturer would also be giving a basic lecture on the same subject, so a few points were repeated, however his presentation was vastly superior to the port lecturer.

Suez Canal the beginning of the current canal

A sketch of the current canal, as envisaged in the 1800’s.

Artists impression of the first convoy

An artist’s impression of the first convoy, which was mainly French ships, as they owned the canal with Egypt. However a British naval ship tagged onto the rear of the convoy, racing ahead and being the first ship to complete the transit of the canal.

Suez Canal expansions over the years

Sketch showing the steady increase in width and depth of the canal from opening to current times. My first transit was in 1976 when my ship was one of the largest that could transit at that time.

 

The next lecture was from the other guest lecturer Lesa Moore and was titled, “Ebbs, Flows & Moon Shadows Tides & Eclipses Made Easy”.

Enrichment lecture tides and eclipses

It turned out to be really basic information, first on how tides are generated by the gravitation pull of the sun and moon.

Tides lecture showing gravitation pull of sun and moon

She then discussed why the moon changes shape throughout the lunar month and eclipses. Interesting, but very basic.

We headed up to the buffet for lunch, since the restaurant was already closed. We had barely sat down when our tablemate Bob & Christine joined us and then shortly thereafter Bruce and Viv also showed. So we grabbed a table enjoyed lunch with more great conversation. After lunch, Judi and I headed to the aft pool for a swim and soak in the hot tub. Having got sufficient sun yesterday in Petra, the covered aft pool provided some shade while enjoying a soak to relax the sore muscles.

Aft pool

The aft pool, which affords some shade from the sun.

 

Prior to dinner we attended the Mentalist show by a British chap that calls himself Kennedy. I really shouldn’t attend this type of show, as I spend days afterwards trying to figure out how he does it. Some of the material included:

  • He had 2 people on stage and asked them to select 1 of 4 books he had on stage. Each of them selected a page and memorised the first word on the page, without him seeing the word, or even the page of the book. He then requested they mix up the letters and he looked at the chap and asked if his word had the letter “T”. A fairly common letter, then he said the word was “Water”, which the chap indicated was correct.
  • With a lady on stage, he had a flip chart behind her that she couldn’t see. He wrote the word “Germany” on the flip chart and asked her which country she was thinking of, to which she responded “America”. We all thought he had failed, but wait. He then asked her to think of a famous person and made out that he was trying to read her mind, but admitted failure. At this time we all figure he is a failure, until she advises her famous person was “Meg Ryan”. Check out the letters in the words, “Germany” and “Meg Ryan” – unbelievable.
  • At the beginning of the show he provided 3 statistics on a powerpoint slide – the actual subject matter was irrelevant, but the numbers we found were very relevant at the end of the show. The statistics included – 12%, 93% and 9%. No explanation was provided along with the statistics. Throughout the show, he had 3 separate people write a number on a piece of paper. The number had to be 4 digits, not have any repeating number and could not have any sequence. The three numbers were added by a 4th person and the total was 12,939, which is exactly the same number he provided during his initial statistics.  

Sitting on the balcony for a few minutes, just prior to dinner, we caught the beginning of a rather colourful sunset over the Egyptian coastline.

Sunset over the Egyptian coastline approaching Port Suez

 

Dinner tonight was another standard menu and yet again the galley had a very poor night. At our table 3 of the 8 main courses were returned. Judi first steak, which she requested medium came out “Blue” and the 2nd attempt was well done. She was OK with that, but on seeing the well done our Head Waiter insisted on again trying to make it correct. Christine had a similar experience with her steak and Bob was served raw fish. In addition to the poor cooking, the quality of the steaks was poor. The meat was generally tough, which unfortunately is becoming too common on this cruise. We can only assume this is yet another example of Princess going cheap with 2nd rate steaks.

The after dinner show was a very talented singer and piano player, who sang an incredible selection of music – classical, jazz, rock and roll and easy listening. While not all of his musical was to our taste, the quality of his performance was clearly evident and a most enjoyable show.

As another day closes, we bid you farewell, till tomorrow and hope for fair skies and following seas.

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