Silver Wind Middle East Adventure Day 10: The Suez Canal

Transiting the Suez Canal

Transiting the Suez Canal today aboard Silversea's Silver Wind was a decidedly unique experience. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
Transiting the Suez Canal today aboard Silversea’s Silver Wind was a decidedly unique experience. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Aaron Saunders, Live Voyage Reports

Originally, Silversea’s Silver Wind was supposed to be in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt today – but as we’re learning, our transit of the Suez Canal is a complicated affair wrapped with the same delicious layer of indecision and bureaucratic red tape that is symptomatic of much of modern-day Egypt.

Because Egyptian authorities changed our transit time, our call on Sharm el Sheikh had to be scrapped to allow us to meet our new transit time of 7:00 p.m. Every step of the way, Captain Gennaro Arma kept guests constantly informed of the change, which frankly most of us welcomed: after two days of long adventures ashore in both Egypt and Jordan, I know I was definitely ready for a sea day!

Ships of all shapes and sizes were out in the Suez Canal today...a ship-spotter's paradise. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
Ships of all shapes and sizes were out in the Suez Canal today…a ship-spotter’s paradise. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

To illustrate just what Captain Arma and his Officers had to deal with: our transit time was initially pushed ahead to 7:00 p.m. The Silver Wind was to be first in line. When the time came, not only were we delayed and had to anchor for two full hours in the afternoon at a staging location just on the eastern entrance to the Canal, but our position had also slipped from one to 27th line. That’s 26 slow-moving container ships…and then us.

Here onboard the Silver Wind, there was no waiting around for guests to have a good time. In fact, if you’d like to really hit the throttle on your day, might I recommend the Martini Tasting in The Bar on Deck 5? Held at 11:00 this morning, it was a real ‘eye-opener’ in more ways than one!

Nothing like a Martini Tasting in The Bar on Deck 5 to kick the morning into high gear! Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
Nothing like a Martini Tasting in The Bar on Deck 5 to kick the morning into high gear! Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

We sampled three Martini cocktails, put together by Silver Wind’s fantastic bar staff. We started with the Silver Jasmine and worked our way through the Silver Spirit (my personal favorite, named after Silversea’s elegant flagship, the Silver Spirit), and finally, the Martinez.

I’m not a huge gin man, so I found the Silver Jasmine to be knock-your-socks-off powerful. Even in our small shotglass samplers, it packed a punch. The full version of the martini in a proper glass was passed around our small group (three Canadians and two Brits), but there were no takers.

Pour me a Silver Spirit...Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
Pour me a Silver Spirit…Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

The Silver Spirit fared far better. Made from Gordon’s Gin, St. Germain, Sauvignon Blanc and freshly-squeezed lime juice, it was light and airy; the kind of drink you could use on a nice hot day on deck.

My favorite, though, was one I’d never tried. The Martinez sounds a bit like a Laundromat in Guadalajara, but with Gordon’s gin, Sweet Vermouth, Maraschino Cherry Liqueur, Simple Syrup and a dash of Orange Bitters, I found it to be incredibly smooth – the perfect post-dinner, pre-show libation. Or, heck, pre-lunch in our case. Don’t worry: it’s five o’clock somewhere.

Even though we’d had two massive days on-shore, Cruise Director Colin Barbiere-Brown and his entertainment staff still managed to come up with a full roster of fun events, activities and diversions as Silver Wind spent her day passing everything from bulk carriers and LNG tankers to full-blown oil rigs flaring gas and drilling for oil.

The big intellectual question of the day for most of us onboard: where does all the money go, both from the rigs and the Suez Canal? Certainly, the average Egyptian isn’t benefitting at all from either.

The Voices of Silversea performed the hits of that other fan of the Martini tonight...James Bond. Shaken, Not Stirred. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
The Voices of Silversea performed the hits of that other fan of the Martini tonight…James Bond. Shaken, Not Stirred. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

I also noticed Cruise Consultant Alessandra has had a steady stream of clients popping by her desk on Deck 6 all week, but it seemed to intensify today. And I’m not just saying that to be complementary, either: it really was the case. This afternoon at 3:30 p.m., she held a fantastic presentation on Silversea’s future voyages, covering both the “classic” fleet that is comprised of Silver Wind, her sister Silver Cloud, the slightly-larger Silver Shadow and her sister Silver Whisper, and the aforementioned Silver Spirit. But she also talked at length about Silversea’s fantastic Silversea Expeditions product that currently boasts a three-ship-strong fleet: Silver Explorer, Silver Discoverer, and Silver Galapagos.

With ships of all sizes passing us...Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
With ships of all sizes passing us constantly..Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
...it's the first time I've seen the Pool Bar on Deck 8 empty, as most guests took to the open expanse of Deck 9 for some ship-spotting. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
…it’s the first time I’ve seen the Pool Bar on Deck 8 empty, as most guests took to the open expanse of Deck 9 for some ship-spotting. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Lots of guests seemed curious about the Expeditions product, and one couple I met have sailed exclusively aboard Silver Explorer aboard numerous voyages. Until now, that had been their only exposure to Silversea – until the set foot aboard the Silver Wind in Muscat last Sunday.

In that vein, you might want to read our own adventures aboard the Expedition ships of Silversea:

Tonight, I was treated to one more example of what makes Silversea so special. I don’t know how it happened, or quite how I fell into it (by extension, I think, of some fantastic other guests here onboard), but I found myself invited by Room Services Manager Girish Rai to an authentic Indian dinner tonight in The Restaurant on Deck 4.

Another beautiful evening descends upon the Silver Wind...Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
Another beautiful evening descends upon the Silver Wind…Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
...broken only by the shouts from the Egyptian pilot who seemed annoyed that a shell door wasn't being opened quickly enough for him. Egypt: We're Not Happy Until You're Not Happy. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
…broken only by the shouts from the Egyptian pilot who seemed annoyed that a shell door wasn’t being opened quickly enough for him. Egypt: We’re Not Happy Until You’re Not Happy. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

I think how it developed was one of the guests good-naturedly ribbed Girish about one of the Indian dishes that had been on-offer a few nights before, and asked if it was authentic. It was, but it had been simplified for North American and European tastes. The question then came up if real, authentic Indian food was served in the Crew Mess to the Indian staff –which, of course, it was. Some guests expressed interest (including yours truly), and a special meal was put together.

Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
Look at that beautifully-painted funnel!! Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

I love Indian food, but I’ve only ever had Canada’s take on the stuff – which, to be fair, is pretty good in Vancouver given the large population of Indian-Canadian citizens. But I’d never experienced anything as good as tonight’s dinner. It was sweet, spicy, and unbelievably flavourful. It felt like we’d all been invited to dinner in someone’s home, transported from the Silver Wind to mainland India in a snap.

It was a great evening – and one that speaks highly to how hard the line and their fantastic crews try to please.

Goodnight! Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
Goodnight! Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Silver Wind Middle East Adventure

DAYPORTARRIVEDEPART
April 5, 2015Muscat, OmanEmbark Silver Wind19:00
April 6Day at Sea
April 7Salalah, Oman13:0023:00
April 8At Sea
April 9At Sea
April 10At Sea
April 11At Sea
April 12Safaga, Egypt07:0021:00
April 13Aqaba, Jordan09:3021:00
April 14Transiting the Suez Canal
April 15Port Said, Egypt08:0017:00
April 16Ashdod, Israel08:0023:00
April 17Haifa, Israel07:0018:00
April 18At Sea
April 19Kusadasi, Turkey08:0017:00
April 20Piraeus (Athens), Greece07:00Disembark; Live Voyage Recap

Our Live Voyage Report aboard Silversea’s elegant Silver Wind continues tomorrow as we dock in Port Said, Egypt! Be sure to follow along on twitter by following @deckchairblog or the hashtag #LiveVoyageReport.

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