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Day 17: Sailing the Suez Canal on Holland America ms Rotterdam
Holland America Africa Explorer Cruise – 49 Days from Rotterdam to Cape Town
Date: Monday October 13, 2014
Weather Forecast: Sunny; 22 C/71 F
Sailing Through the Suez Canal – from Port Said to the Red Sea
Dress Code: Smart Casual
The Suez Canal shortens the journey for ships travelling between the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea anywhere from 7 to 11 days compared to going completely around Africa. Port Said, Egypt is the northern-most port (at the Mediterranean entrance) and Suez City, Egypt (at the Red Sea) is the southern entry for the canal – splitting Egypt in two. Construction of the 102-mile canal was between 1859 and 1869, and consists of both man-made canals and existing bodies of water. Approximately 18,000 ships (50 per day) go through the canal and the annual toll collection is US$5 billion. The Suez Canal does not have locks as it is at similar sea depths to the Mediterranean Sea and Red Sea.
Suez Canal Details:
Today the culinary team on ms Rotterdam had prepared an Egyptian-style breakfast in one station of the Lido. It was wonderful and a terrific way to safely sample Egyptian food. Some of the dishes were Foul medames, Koushari and Tameya (falafel).
With our departure from Port Said being pushed to an earlier time last night, we had missed quite a bit of the transit and ms Rotterdam was waiting for the southbound convoy in the Great Bitter Lake when we woke.
At various times throughout the day, Location Guide KK, gave fascinating commentary while we cruised the Suez Canal – informative details on the history of the canal as well as the sights along the way. It was difficult to drag ourselves away from the Crow’s Nest – where we had fantastic views of the happenings along the canal (complete with Egyptian army compounds in many areas).
Dinner at Canaletto:
For dinner we went to Canaletto to sample their new menu – which was divine! The emphasis is on sharing (family-style) plates – which we love to do whenever possible.
We started with the Small Plates – Salumi (prosciutto, coppa, grizzini, shaved pecorino and assorted olives), Marinated Buffalo Mozzarella (with extra virgin olive oil, fresh basil, tomato with balsamic Saba reduction), and a half-order of Rigatoni (Italian sausage, Kalamata olives and spicy tomato sauce).
Next we ordered from the Large Plates – Potato Gnocchi (braised beef short rib, mascarpone, butter roasted carrots and celery), Sautéed Veal Piccata (lemon angel hair, capers, kale crisps).
Dessert was also a huge hit and we realized we ordered way too much (desserts are also portioned for sharing). The Tiramisu is our most favorite Canaletto dessert, but the Torta Al Cacao (with walnut praline and vanilla bean gelato) was also delicious.
The $10 per person surcharge for dinner at Canaletto is definitely worth it!
Tonight’s entertainment in the Showroom at Sea was called “Variations” by the Rotterdam Singers and Dancers.