After Salalah, Oceana wasn’t scheduled to be docked for the next seven days. These first four days were on the Red Sea going up to the Suez Canal. We had to pass from the Gulf of Aden to the Red Sea. This meant a daylight transit through the Bab El Mendeb Strait. We would have Yemen on one side and Djoubiti and then Eritrea on the other.
Oceana made an unscheduled and highly unusual emergency port call at Jeddah in Saudi Arabia because a passenger was seriously ill.
Our cruise through the Suez Canal started in Dubai and took us to Abu Dhabi, Muscat, Salalah, then the transit of the Suez Canal, Valletta, Dubrovnik, Hvar, Venice, Split and finally back to Valletta.
Day 11 Thursday 28 March In the Gulf of Aden
This was the first of our long run of seven sea days as Oceana left the Gulf area and made her way through the Red Sea to the Suez Canal and then into the Mediterranean.
We had a late breakfast upstairs in the Plaza buffet. I had a Bircher muesli for a change rather than my usual omelettes.
Our walk around the Promenade Deck was slower than usual as the outside temperature had risen significantly. Oceana was still running at over 19 knots. We passed some yachts making passage through these dodgy waters.
All the security sound generators were manned by the ship security staff. They were keeping a watchful eye on the seas around the ship.
At noon we presented ourselves at the restaurant for the Peninsular Club lunch. Our table was hosted by the ship’s officer responsible for reception and for embarkation and dis-embarkation.
She told us that as passengers began returning to the ship and complaining about Salalah, she went on one of the shuttle buses to see for herself what was happening to cause all the complaints. She discovered first-hand the chaos as the taxi drivers mobbed the ship’s passengers.
The lunch was excellent and afterwards we went back to our cabin to sit on our balcony and watch the sea pass by.
Later we went to hear the actor John Lyons, talk about his life and how he came to be part of the TV series ‘A Touch of Frost.’ He told us lots of anecdotes about the making of the show as well as how he became an actor and then it was another murder talk.
This was the day that we had decided to catch up on our laundry. The laundry on our deck was just a few steps away across the lift lobby on the Starboard side. There were just two washing machines with tumble dryers stacked on top. We put our first batch of washing in and settled down with a good book to wait.
After our wait the machine stopped but had not spun the washing. Luckily the other machine was now free and we put the washing in for a final spin. Then we used this second machine for the next batch and Linda started ironing. There were only a few items that needed ironing fortunately.
We chatted to all the other passengers who came in to use the ironing boards or the dryers. After a couple of hours we were back in our cabin with hopefully enough clean clothes to last us until the end of the cruise.
Just before the Captain’s 6 pm update the Cruise Director announced changes to the evening’s entertainment. The scheduled shows from the lady singer were all cancelled. It seems her luggage didn’t make it to Salalah and she had no costumes and even more important no music for the ship’s orchestra.
The Captain explained that the security protocols were still in place and the lockdown would again be at 7 pm. Oceana would be passing through the narrow entrance to the Red Sea at approximately 6 am the next day. This meant the ship would be only 2 miles from the Yemeni shore.
We had a late dinner in the Ligurian restaurant and I enjoyed the breaded brie cheese followed by gammon. We stayed and chatted long after we had finished eating with our table companions.
We went to watch scheduled comedian in the theatre. Afterwards the ship was still running at over 19 knots when we went back to our cabin and checked the ship’s position.
I set my alarm and planned to be out on the observation deck as Oceana sailed through the narrows. My sleep would be even shorter as the clocks were scheduled to go back an hour overnight.
From the Cruise Log
Thursday 28 March – At Sea
Noon Position 13°30.8*N 049°58.2*E
Wind Easterly Force 3
Weather Mostly Cloudy, Dry
At around 02:30 Oceana entered the ‘Internationally Recommended Traffic Route’ towards the Bab El Mendeb Strait where military can monitor closely the movements of all ships in the area ensuring the safe passage of all vessels.
Oceana continued along this passage throughout the whole of today making her way to the Red Sea.