Suez Canal

On day 9 of our cruise, we passed through the Suez Canal. 

It took about 10 hours to cross and was a pretty uneventful other than seeing a few landmarks along the way. 

One interesting part of the journey was to see the contrast between the East and West sides of the canal. 

On the West side you see cities and trees. 

While on the East side it's mostly desert. 

Barcelona to Dubai Cruise

We decided to join Jen’s parents on a 16-day cruise from Barcelona to Dubai on a new Royal Caribbean ship called the Spectrum of the Seas. This was a good way to spend some time with them and relax. The Spectrum was a brand new boat and our portion of the trip was considered the inaugural trip.  The full journey was destined for Singapore where the boat would be stationed to serve the Asian market. 

Although this was a long cruise, it only stopped at the following ports: 
  • Barcelona 
  • Civitavecchia (Rome)
  • Naples
  • Athens
  • Aquaba
  • Dubai

The rest of the time we kept busy with multiple activities. Here are a few that we enjoyed: 

  • Progressive Trivia: Every day, we participated in a trivia contest that tested random knowledge. We learned a lot about South Africa (since that's where the trivia host was from), a lot about different phobias, and what random groups of animals are called.  Did you know that a group of owls is called a parliament?

  • Flow Rider: Yay

  • iFly: No better way to dry out your gums 

  • Fencing: This was their first attempt at having this activity on a ship, so the experience was pretty short, but it was fun to give it a try since neither of us had ever tried fencing before.. plus there is nothing like being equipped with a sword and saying, "Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die!" 

  • North Star: The North Star is a big bubble on top of the ship that gives you a bird's eye view of the ship. It seemed like a silly idea at first, but in the end, we were surprised at how impressive the view actually was.

  • Morning Yoga: Every other day they had free yoga classes :)

  • Comedy, Music Shows, and movies on the top deck: At night we had a variety of entertainment opportunities with semi-known performers.

Jen's parents stayed on the boat for another journey all the way to Singapore. But we had to go back to work after Dubai. 

Diving in the Red Sea

One thing that we really wanted to do on this trip was to dive the Red Sea in Egypt.  Due to a travel advisory in the Sinai region of Egypt, we decided not to travel there but still booked a boat trip from Eilat, Israel.  We walked across the Israel/Egypt border to Taba, then went 500 meters to our boat that took us to a couple of dive sites off the coast of Egypt.. 

We dove two different sites: "Marsa Elmugabila" and "The Aquarium".  The Aquarium was the best one of the two as we saw the most fish, and even an Octopus :)  The pictures from these dives are more blue than our Bali dive pics because this time we used our new GoPro camera, and it doesn't have a flash to bring out the colours of the coral.

Here's a pic of the octopus…can you spot it? :)

After our two dives we also did a quick stop near a small fortress island to do some snorkelling.

While we were having lunch, one of the ship crew actually spotted a whale shark swimming by our boat!!  Dom grabbed GoPro, aimed it off the back of the boat, and hoped for the best.  Seeing a whale shark is a really rare occurrence in the area, so we were extremely lucky!!!