We left the Suez Canal to start our overnight passgage to Sharm at about 4.00pm. As I suspected, we were escorted by two naval ships, one on each stern quarter, for the whole duration of the passage, arriving in Sharm El Sheikh bay at dawn. The disembarkation here was by tender, as there was already a cruise ship alongside - Costa Voyager. After a leisurely breakfast in hot sunshine now, we obtained our time slot ticket for the trip ashore. Ours was 10.10am, and the whole thing ran like clockwork. Sharm itself was quite pleasant, much more of a resort than Port Said, and we had a browse around the shops and market, again being pestered to buy, and take taxi rides, but not unpleasantly. We returned to the ship at around 2.30pm, all aboard by 4.30pm. Today's experience was very enjoyable and now in hot sunshine. Before I leave this section, the captain has just announced that during today's visit, whilst we tendered ashore all day, the ship could not be anchored as we were lying in 200 metres of water. The main engines have been running all day, and the officer of the watch has been constantly manouvering using thrusters to keep position.
When we leave at 5.30pm, there will be another sail away party on deck 12 before we embark on 4 sea days to reach Muscat, Oman. The weather will now be hot enough to spend our days on deck.
Tuesday 17th January.
Our first sea day en route to Oman, and with hot sun and clear skies. Last night we received a lovely gift from P&O, a china breakfast tea service for two, by Veritas, and in a boxed set, with P&O insignia. This was in appreciation of our patronage for the whole of the world cruise. A nice thought. Today was also what is called chocoholics. This is a day on every segment where the executive chef shows off and his team produces cakes and patisserie on a wholly pure chocolate theme during the afternoon, all laid out with chocolate sculptures. I should have opted out, but Margaret and Robyn had been good enough to return to deck 9 stern with plates full of the stuff, so it would have been churlish of us men to refuse :-) Smart dress code tonight, so time to get out the Gieves and Hawkes double breasted naval blazer and grey flannels - seemingly the staple dress code for all males currently on board.
Wednesday 18th January.
Another day of hot sun and clear skies. We are now headed for what is considered to be the most dangerous part of the passage through this area, and passed through the straights that take us from the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean around 6.00pm tonight. Guards have been on duty all day, body armour and helmets at their side, at their stations manning the anti boarding weapons on deck 7. We have now started blackout procedure during the hours of darkness, and we were once again joined by a naval frigate at dusk, but I couldn't make out whether it was Royal or US Navy in the failing light. Tonight's entertainment was a show by the ship's Headliners theatre group, who did a review of musical theatre called "Stage Door", and it must be said, was worthy of any West End stage. Tomorrow evening is again black tie, but themed "black and white", so I think it is time I pulled out the cream tux from the wardrobe. It is also "parade of chefs" night where we are introduced to the Executive chef and his team, during the evening meal. The entertainment will be courtsey of UK comedian Roy Walker, who is already on board.
There really is no other holiday like a cruise, both for value for money and interest, to give an insight into many countries around the world - even the more risky ones, which would never appear on any ordinary holiday itinerary. Until next time.........