Suez Canal

Our transit day was scheduled for the 31st March, however, one can’t just ‘turn up’ and expect to get a slot for the northbound convoy.  It is necessary to ‘register’ with the Canal authority and a vessel has to do this the day before, the cut-off being that it has to be done before 11 p.m.

To register, one has to cross a line of latitude approximately 15 miles from the Canal itself.  Having done so and provided the vessel’s information, one is then allotted a numbered anchorage which one has to go to, ours being E13.

Having anchored, a plethora of boats then come alongside, ship’s agent, Inspectors, Immigration, Customs; you name it, we get it.  Strangely, the first boat to appear contained men wanting to buy scrap metal….Egypt never changes.

I thought, naively as it turns out, that we would stay at the anchorage until the wee hours and then join our convoy.  Not so, we were asked to move to another anchorage to make space for several massive container ships, which, having registered, now wanted their anchorage for the night.  Having moved, we managed 3½ hours sleep before it was time to weigh anchor again and prepare to join the convoy of 23 ships; we were going to be the 3rd in line, following a car-carrier and the old ‘Nieuw Amsterdam’, aka the ‘Thompson Celebration’

The time-lapse is 3 minutes, the actual transit took 11 hours, however you get an idea of what it entails.  I actually spent 15 ½ hours on the Bridge; from weighing anchor at 0300 to leaving the buoyed channel, 15 miles north of Port Said.  One averages around 9 knots, ( 9 mph/14 kph) through the transit.

The pilots, (we had 3 in total; 1 from the anchorage to Suez, then 1 from Suez to Ismailia and finally 1 from Ismailia to Port Said), all left it to us to conn her all the way through, the officers enjoyed themselves immensely.

You will see part of the time-lapse where we appear to be heading towards the side of the canal; this is because, with the high wind, we ‘crabbed’ sideways down sections of the Canal and allowance has to be made for it.

I’ll leave you with the video and photographs; tomorrow, (Sunday), we arrive in Rhodes, Greece. 


Ships at anchor, waiting for their turn

Early morning and the massive Container ship astern, number 4 in the convoy

Passing the canal-side mosque, Suez

Fresh=baked pastries and refreshments for our guests on deck

Pontoon bridge sections line the west bank in several areas

Ahead, the car-carrier and the TC

There is only 1 bridge across the canal and that is closed for Security reasons. The only way across is by ferry

Approaching our Ismailia pilot exchange point

While astern, the convoy.

A container ship, southbound can be seen in the ‘old’ section

The Bridge watch, while the pilot relaxes….

Lorries waiting in a queue for a ferry

A cutter-dredger

..and the cutting head

Astern, the 2 sections of the widened canal, right is southbound, left, northbound

Passing a laid-up ferry, it would seem something too heavy tried to go over the ramp 🙂

Port Said in sight

The pilot boat basin, Port Said

The city itself

15 thoughts on “Suez Canal”

  1. Hi Captain,
    As always, I am very much enjoying all the information and the wonderful photos from yourself and Karen.
    Happy to learn that the former Noordam and Nieuw Amsterdam are both still sailing. Our first-ever cruise was on the “old” Noordam, to Alaska in 1989, and we have been loyal “Mariners” ever since, and will reach the 300-day mark this summer, on board the Koningsdam.
    The comment from readers James and Teri about a “farewell trip” in 2018 has me curious – – who is planning a retirement?

  2. Captain Jonathan,
    Thanks for the very interesting Suez transit with your Gocam, photos and blog! Look forward to transiting the Panama Canal with you in January.
    All the continuing best to you.

  3. Dear Captain,
    I continue to your enjoy videos, photos (Karen’s too) and your detailed descriptions. We were recently on the Koningsdam and could not enjoy watching the sail ins as we did on the ms Amsterdam. Travel thru the Suez Canal was quite special as I remember on WC 2015.
    Safe travels! I did not know you first WC was in 2012.
    Best, Rosie

  4. Hello Captain Jonathan: Thank you for the video and photos of the crossing the Suez. We were with you on the 2015 WC and it was the one that we started through about 4:30 pm and we saw a small portion of the beginning , then dinner table 79 (if you remember on upper deck) and small portion after dinner then darkness. I now know what we missed so thank you. Hope to see you and Karen in Fort Laud. April 26 when you get off as we will be getting on for the Panama Canal and Seattle run. Otherwise we will see you on the 2018 World Cruise.

  5. What an exciting trip! My stomach is just now calming down. LOL. I continue to enjoy your adventures…

  6. Hi Captain Mercer:
    Very interesting post with a great time lapse video of the transit. I was with you there in 2012 on that year’s GWV.
    I saw your reference to the “Thomson Celebration” and looked up Wikipedia to find the name of the old Noordam. It is telling me that the “Celebration” is, in fact the “Noordam” and that the “Nieuw Amsterdam” is the “Thomson Spirit”?
    I was on my first cruise on the old “Noordam” out of San Francisco to Acapulco return in 1984. I have remained with HAL now for nearly 500 days at sea and have a couple of voyages within the next few months.

    1. Am loving all your blogs but this last one going through the Suez Canal was so interesting. We did it on Oceania’s Nautica back in 2008 and seeing your wonderful photos brought that voyage back to me so clearly. Thanks for taking the time to post as you do lead a very busy life. I am sure everyone who reads your blog appreciates the time and effort you put into it.

  7. Wonderful, fabulous….what a feat of engineering…good show on your part…totally different that Panama Canal transit but an engineering wonder of the world I thought I would never get to see…Thank you so much.
    See you in 8 months after you deserve a rest after this voyage!

  8. Thank you for the wonderful,up dates,I love it when you share the experience with us,But not same ,because we are not there with this cruse. We in joyed the 2016 experience with you.very much better. Thanks keep it coming.Ps looking forward too the 2018 farewell trip with you .been a wonderful experience with you.

  9. I enjoyed all these photos. They brought back happy memories of our 2016 Suez Canal transit with you.

  10. Very interesting,but how does the price for this canal with the ship compare to the Panama cost for the ship?

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