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Arabian Sea & Suez Canal Cruise on the Celebrity Constellation

4/22/18 to 5/7/18

Suez Canal

We love new experiences and cruising through the Suez Canal, seemed like it would be an interesting one.  After leaving Aqaba at 10:00 PM, it would take us 25 hours of cruising until we arrived at the canal at 11:00 PM the next night.  This meant that we had a full day at sea after Aqaba. Cruising through this part of the Red Sea was interesting since there were lots of oil well platforms and equipment along the way.  There were also lots of large container ships heading to the canal also.


The Captain had announced that when we arrived near the canal entrance, we would wait there and be staged for the caravan of about 30 ships that would go through at one time.  He expected to start through the canal between 4:00 – 5:00 AM.  He also said that we would leave the canal around 4:30 PM, so it would take around 12 hours to go through the approximately 100 miles of canal.  With sunrise at 6:06 AM, there was no rush to wake up extra early.  I did wake up early due to excitement and was out taking some photos around sunrise.  There were lots of ships just hanging out.  One was particularly interesting to me.  It was a large vessel that had another ship inside of it.  I assume that it is a floating drydock. 


Since we weren’t moving, I went down to the buffet for a quick breakfast before heading to the open decks.  Since our cabin was at the back of deck 11, it was convenient to walk out onto the rest of the deck that was prime viewing area during the canal transit.  It was easy to go back and forth from side to side when I wanted to.  I picked a spot on the starboard side to watch for a while.  As soon as I got there, a pilot boat approached the ship.  They pulled up right below where I was standing.  Kind of convenient!  I couldn’t believe how many large bags they were bringing on board with them.  They were piling bags on to the ship while the five people boarded.  I can’t imagine why they would need five pilots, nor why they needed so many bags.  Perhaps they were delivering something to the ship.


As we entered the canal, there was a nice size town on the port side of the ship.


Behind our ship was a very large container ship.  The captain told us later in the day that it was one of largest ones in the world at over 1,300 feet long; and that it could carry 18,000 twenty foot containers.  That is hard to imagine.  I tried to get a good photo of it, but it was pretty far behind us and the air was hazy all day; but I did the best I could.

On the starboard side of the ship, there was mostly desert.  It was that way most of the transit.  I was glad that our cabin was on the port side, so that Carol could watch the world go by where there was more to look at.



It wasn’t long till the first city ended and there was desert on both sides of the canal.


Every once in a while, there would be a small town and green area on the port side.  I liked the sign that someone had put on a sand dune that said Egypt Peace.


The most predominant landscape feature were the large piles of sand along the banks.  I assume that this sand was dredged from the canal to keep it deep enough for the many ships that go through daily.

Before long we entered the Great Bitter Lake.  With the air being extremely hazy there, about the only thing that was worth looking at were the lane markers.

Once out of the lake we were back in a narrow canal with sand piled up on the sides.  Every once in a while, we would see a ferry boat.  I am not sure why they would even want to go to the other side with there being nothing there.




Earlier in the morning people were lined up to watch the transit.  As the day progressed and it got hotter, the novelty wore off and most people went back to the pool for sunning and/or cooling off.


There did seem like there was a lot of construction going on in some areas of the canal.  But that might have been more related to dredging than actual construction.


Between 11:00 AM and 1:00 PM, one of the enrichment lecturers, Michael Fuller, gave a talk in Reflections Lounge at the front of the ship.  He was telling interesting stories; but he wasn’t discussing what we were passing by, so I didn’t stay for a long time.  Additionally, the place was packed, and it was difficult to find a place to sit.  Some people had camped out in the best seats early in the morning and stayed there all day.


At one point when I was on the starboard side, I was shocked to see a very large development that looked like apartments or condominiums.  It was the first sign of any major activity I had seen on the starboard side of the canal.  It appeared to still be under construction.  There wasn’t any sign of civilization on either side of the canal other than the new buildings.

Further along after more piled up sand, I saw a building in the distance.  Getting out my telephoto lens, I could see it better; but didn’t know what type activity they did there.  Back in the haze, there appeared to be a good size city in the distance.  One tall object looked really strange.  Perhaps it was what they use for cell towers in Egypt.


Cruising along the canal is interesting; but it can get boring with so little to see other than lots of sand.  So, when I saw what looked like a bridge in the distance, my interest peaked.  One of the lecturers discussed a train bridge along the canal, so this must be it.  As we got closer, I was able to get a better shot of the El Ferdan Railway Bridge.  It was a swing bridge that spans the western shipping lane of the canal.


Most of the way along the starboard side of the canal there was a road and wall.  When I finally saw a vehicle on it, I had to take a photo.  I assume it was probably a water truck.  Not far up the canal, there was a change in the wall, where there was a small building; probably where the water truck was going.


Continuing along there were more miles of sand and vehicles moving it around.  During the day, we experienced a lot of flies around the ship.  We hadn’t seen any during the cruise until we got into the canal.  It was a nuisance; but I have heard that sometimes there can be swarms that attack the ships.  After all we were actually traveling more on land than sea in the canal.  Some flies hung around the ship for a few days and then finally died or disappeared.


Later in the afternoon, there was something exciting to look at, a large bridge up ahead.  From this vantage point I could see another large container ship that was in front of us; but it was smaller than the one behind us.

As we got closer to the bridge, people came back out on deck, since there was something worth seeing.  It was a very nice-looking bridge; but it didn’t appear that it was going anywhere.  There was a town on the port side; but it didn’t even look like there was a road at the end of the starboard side of the bridge.


I got a kick out of the ferries lined up to cross the canal between ships passing through the canal.  They had to hurry.

The town near the bridge had some large ferries that were unloading and loading while we passed by. 


There also appeared to be a floating bridge along the bank; but it looked too short to go across the canal.  Perhaps there is another section on the other side that joins up with it; but I didn’t see it.

As we were getting close to the end of the canal at Port Said, a pilot boat came back to pick up the pilots.  I just happened to be at the same place again, so I could see them bringing the bags they had brought on board back to the pilot boat.  I would love to know why they needed so many bags.  Only 3 of the five people that got on the ship returned to the pilot boat, so perhaps they were bringing some new crew members on in the morning.

I could see docking cranes on both sides of the canal and the town of Port Said way in the distance.


As we pulled away from the canal, I was glad that we had finally been able to cruise the Suez Canal; but was disappointed that the haze took away from the views.  Although there isn’t that much to see along the canal, it is still amazing to see a canal cut through the desert, especially since it was originally completed 150 years ago.


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