Through our window on the world we spied a flat calm sea, a few hundred metres away a misty desert landscape and lane markers slowly passing aft. A variety of commercial shipping at anchor began to drift by as we readied for breakfast. It seems we are special as we have a little tug accompanying us, busing itself with some task that seems beyond my comprehension but it refuses to leave us, so some one must be paying him.
Breakfast was as busy as the tug with bustling half awake passengers, obviously keen to take on board the first of today’s rations and then get up on deck with camera in hand to snap a few more holiday photos. And so was I.
Up top it was quietly serene as we glided down our channel of marker buoys, ships in front, ships astern. I wonder where we are in this crocodile of craft? The haze prevents any distant views and is certainly no good for amateur photographers, but I took some shots anyway. You never know. With camera satisfied I had a look at my fellow travellers, they too seemed at peace in this tranquil environment. The usual noisy musical Tannoy for once was silent, with no ‘keep fitters’ bouncing up and down to the rhythm of ‘Adele’. Drifting along on a warm and misty morning seems to have had the right effect on everyone’s soul. Strange then that we are negotiating our way through a region of present conflict. Perhaps the protagonists should go for a sail?
Being British does of course mean that we are born with a strong sense of responsibility, a moral understanding of right and wrong. Jessica, the English rep’ from Reading was doing a seminar this morning, below decks on the workings of our ship. In support we left the sunshine and magnificent scenery to sit for twenty minutes watching a video in a darkened room on how the ship was run. Unsurprisingly, when she asked for questions, there were none, and with British loyalty and character satisfactorily demonstrated, we all dashed back into the light.
The haze had gone, so out came the camera and more pixels were snapped. The scenery sliding by was full of surprises; fishermen in boats frantically rowing away for their lives as we passed within metres of them, trucks laden with sand honking their horns and JCB’s waving their hydraulic arms in the air. Desert sands gave way to rural verdant farm land, which led to village and townscape, many mosques piercing the sky ensuring that the call to Allah wouldn’t be a long walk.
For the first time this trip we joined the seals and walruses basking in the sun. Finding two wicker chairs we idled our time in comfort watching the Arabian theatre unfold before our eyes, dismayed at our fellows choosing to bury their heads in books or just sleep.
We were joined by Aylo who was full of the news from Brussels and the atrocities perpetrated by a few misguided Islamists. Sadly, this beautiful country we are quietly sliding through has the same problems. Aylo’s update on the medical issue of yesterday is that it was indeed a 71 year from Brighton who had undergone a triple heart by pass 8 weeks ago. But he is not a Brit. He was born in Norway, lived in Belgium and spent the last 16 years in the UK (probably for the NHS). A shame really, I would like to have pinned this episode on the French.
We sat near the window for lunch and continued to enjoy the scenery. We passed under a bridge at one point and later paralleled by a railway line, excitingly two trains whizzed by.
Back in the cabin I noticed a pick-up truck keeping pace with us on the bank some 100m away. The binoculars confirmed that they were soldiers, armed with heavy machine gun on top and flying the Egyptian flag, obviously deterring anyone from taking potshots at the ship from the desert. That was a relief, we all know and fear the black pennant of Isis. It is reassuring that the Egyptian authorities are here to protect this tin-can full of European bait.
I spent the first part of the afternoon working out in the gym, which gave a spectacular view from the front of the ship, just under the first class suites. We were in a convoy of four with the cruise ship Aida in front, us second and two container ships behind. Sue watched from on deck
and then enjoyed another performance of last night’s South African singer. around the pool.
Our journey through the canal finished when we reached Alexandria and the NeoRomantica emerged out into the Mediterranean. The city itself was too far away for photos and the exit was only marked by a small lighthouse and a military encampment. The Med was flat calm and all around were anchored many ships waiting their turn to convoy through south.
I did the afternoon quiz (on shadows) without Sue, she was still on deck enjoying the entertainment. Afterwards, I went for tea expecting her to be there, in disappointment at not finding her I scoffed a plateful of sandwiches. Returning to the cabin, she was there sleeping peacefully.
Later we received a letter, obviously linked with the shocking news from Brussels, informing us that we will not be stopping at Marmaris, instead we shall dock in Rhodes. We haven’t booked any trips in Turkey so it won’t affect our plans.
During our evening meal we had a minutes silence for those killed in Brussels and as a further mark of respect all entertainment on the ship was cancelled. A small gesture but it is the least we can do to support those Belgium passengers on board, some who may have relatives in Brussels. I guess the few Muslims on board are feeling rather awkward at present, themselves victims of a ruthless and evil organisation that values life so little.
After a sombre meal we took our now obligatory turn around the deck. Unusually we were alone tonight. Returning to the cabin we finished off last nights game of Scrabble before retiring to bed. Sadly, some tonight are not so lucky.