I was greatly disappointed that our cruise on the Aegean Odyssey would not be stopping at Suez due to the continuing ‘troubles’ in Egypt. Apparently rioting was taking place in the very place we would dock in order to visit the Pyramids at Giza and several people had been killed during the demonstrations. But I was still excited about my first transit of the Suez Canal. Sunday morning at about 2:00am I was already awake and waiting as the ship manouvered into place at El Suweis. Our convoy of over 26 vessels which would take 12 hours to pass through from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean and we would travel without having to stop for traffic coming from the other direction. Seawater flows freely thourgh the canal and there are no locks. Probably the most interesting part was passing through the Buheirat-Marrat-el-Kubra (Great Bittern Lake) and watching fisherman wading in the shallow water near extensive sand bars. The city of Isma’iliya was very built up, with requisite minarets soaring above the not particularly interesting buildings. The Suez Canal begain to be constructed in 1858 and 1.5 million workers were involved in the project. It took 10 years to complete the 160km channel. The average cost per ship is $251,000 to use the passage. Sailing under the stunning and thoroughly Egyptian looking Al Qantarah Bridge, which connects the continent of Africa with Asia, was definitely the highlight of the transit.
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