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Well we have finally made it to Savona. We had to be out of the cabin by 8:00am with a meeting time of 9:15am in the theatre for disembarking.
Lots of talk yesterday about not getting until 9:00am but in the end we made it on schedule.
We have a flight from Nice this afternoon and so will be back in the UK at 4:25pm. Down to earth with a bump as its back to work tomorrow.

Arrival at Savona

Arrival at Savona

We awoke this morning not the sound of a ship in port but to one of a ship at sea. Having passed through the Messina Strait sometime in the night we have continued our northerly course towards Savona. For our last full day on board we have had clear skies which somewhat eased the disappointment of not stopping at Naples.
As with all cruises its sad to be getting off the ship and saying goodbye to all those who you have become so familiar with. I also feel for the poor old crew who now have to go through it all over again with a fresh set of faces but to carry on providing the same service while their families are so far away.
And talking of far away, we have spotted a few stowaways on board. We have seen about 5 of these little yellow birds and I have also spotted a slightly larger green one which is about the size of a Blackbird. I have no idea what they are or even when they came on board. The yellow ones are often seen flying all round the ship and by chance seem to have taken a liking to the aft balconys. They don’t seem to be too bothered by us humans and its quite amusing to see them wandering along the balcony decks. I wonder what will become of them?

Well I suppose its putting off the inevitable, time to start packing for home……

Posted a day late because Costa gave everyone 1 hour of free WiFi which then crashed the system. Its been rubbish at the best of times but now its beyond help!

The yellow one is about the size of a sparrow

The yellow one is about the size of a sparrow

The other stowaway

The other stowaway

Well as the day as passed the itinerary saga has continued with lots of stories being passed around by just about everybody. In a note delivered with the daily programme we have some sort of explanation for not stopping at the last two ports. It reads as follows…….

Dear Guests

We would like to inform you that due to a technical issue we are not able to sail at full speed and in order to assure our northbound cruise arrival at the port of Savona on time, we therefore unfortunately need to cancel our next port of call at Naples.

The inconvenience does not impact on the full safety conditions of our cruise, but just reduces the speed.
We are now heading to Savona with an estimated arrival time of 10:00am on Tuesday 15th April.

Those guests who were to disembark in Naples will be fully assisted and transferred to Naples by a dedicated charter flight which will leave Genoa airport at 2:00pm on the same day (Tues 15th).

In order to mitigate the discomfort caused by the route change, guests on board the Costa Fortuna are offered a credit of €100 (per cabin) to their onboard account.

We thank you for your understanding.

It would also appear there are a quite a few Italians & Germans still not happy with this and have demanded a meeting with the Captain and if everything I hear is to be believed then the shows in the theatre didn’t go ahead last night because 30 or so Italian passengers interrupted the performances by having a sit in on the stage to protest! You really couldn’t make it up could you?

All said though, I am slightly bothered by how we could have lost so much time. The daily programme had suggested that the Suez transit ranges from 11 to 14 hours depending on traffic coming the other way. They must have built the worst case scenario into the itinerary and if my observations were accurate then we started the transit 2 hours late and it took us 11 hours. I believe that put us more or less where we should have been at Port Said. The first we knew of any change to the itinerary was when it was when it was announced during the canal transit that Heraklion had been cancelled due to time loss? How could they have known that then?
We then proceeded into the Mediterranean doing 17-18 knots which isn’t that slow and have continued to do so ever since apart from when we did the emergency evacuation where we lost about an hour. This ship has a top speed of 22 knots so I think there is something they are just not telling us. OK, they could just about get away with saying one port needed to be dropped but two? We were due to be in Naples for 6 hours and Heraklion for 4.
Could it be the cost of having 2 tugs in attendance through the canal has cost too much and to try and recapture some of the overspend they have dropped 2 ports? But then why go to all the extra effort to get disembarking passengers back to Naples?
Some fellow passengers we have spoken to said that there were rumours that the decision to drop Naples had been circulating as early as yesterday morning. In the afternoon the navigational maps were altered without any official announcement, this eventually came over the tanoy at around 5:30pm. I don’t think the whole episode has been handled very professionally and its no wonder so many passengers are upset.
I guess we will never know the full story.
However as a final note I would be curious to know where MSC Lirica is in comparison to our location as she was only 2 hours ahead of us going into the Suez canal.

This is the view from our balcony clearly showing only one of the props working fully

This is the view from our balcony clearly showing only one of the props working fully

What an evening tonight turned out to be. First the almost mutineering Italian passengers then almost as soon as that had died down we temporary changed course for Crete to meet a helicopter for an emergency evacuation of a passenger.
The helicopter was almost right over our cabin as it attempted to winch the passenger up. Whatever happened the first time wasn’t successful so as dusk fell the helicopter made a second pass and was at last successful. I have to admire the skill of the pilot who hovered over the aft of the ship while the evacuation was carried out.

The helicopter hovers over the rear pool deck during its first attempt

The helicopter hovers over the rear pool deck during its first attempt

We finally exited the Suez canal at Port Said around 8:30pm last night in darkness and headed out into the Mediterranean sea towards Naples and not Heraklion.

I know we weren’t due to be in Heraklion for a full day stop and it was also one of the rescheduled ones but however we were looking forward to stretching our legs on dry land.

For today’s weather we had clear blue skies but there was a marked difference in the wind temperature which had quite a nip to it compared to the one we experiencing on the other side of the Suez canal. The outside temperature being given at only 16C so providing you could find a sheltered area on deck it still felt really warm.

On another note, I got a bit of a shock yesterday when a message popped up on camera screen. Memory Card Full! 8GB card and only 1620 photos on it, luckily I had a spare one in the cabin but can you imagine my horror if it had happened at Petra? Its not something I have ever done before on a cruise and it will certainly make me more cautious in the future.

We have since discovered that Naples has now been dropped too. No formal announcement has been made and we discovered this looking at the TV in our cabin. Guest services was a very interesting place I can tell you with a few very animated Italians going beserk!

The first time the rear pool roof has been closed during the day

The first time the rear pool roof has been closed during the day

One of many of my Suez canal photos

One of many of my Suez canal photos

The rest of today has been spent slowly cruising the 87.5 nautical miles (162 kms) north along the Suez canal. The only things we have constantly had behind us have been 2 tugs. The reason for this wasn’t announced until 5:00pm when the captain revealed over the tanoy that the ship is experiencing technical problems, hence our delayed entrance into the canal. I had noticed we had problems docking in Aqaba but nothing was said so I assumed it was something else. The result of all this is that we are experiencing a delay and Heraklion has been dropped and so we are now heading straight to Naples.

It wasn’t until we reached the first basin that we encountered any ships coming in the opposite direction. There has been a light breeze and beautiful sunshine all the way through which has been fantastic. The crowds which were on deck at the start have slowly disappeared and it feels more like the usual space we have come to enjoy.

Tonight is another gala night and we have received an invitation to join the captain with the other Costa Club members for a cocktail in the theatre. One of the perks of being a Pearl member is we get a free photo if we have one taken with him. Hmmmmmm.

Al Salam Bridge and our 2 tugs in attendance

Al Salam Bridge and our 2 tugs in attendance

Al Salam Bridge, Sinai side

Al Salam Bridge, Sinai side

Al Salam Bridge, Cairo side

Al Salam Bridge, Cairo side

At 5:00am we arrived at the entrance to the Suez canal where had to wait for our turn to enter. Looking out from our cabin we counted 19 other ships all doing the same. We need not of got up so early because as it turned out we were the last to go through, eventually setting off just before 9:35am (ships time).
It will take most of the day to transit the canal at a speed of 7.5 knots so I may well make several posts today as I am sure there will be plenty of photo opportunities.

Lots of ships waiting to enter the Suez Canal

Lots of ships waiting to enter the Suez Canal

The sun rises as we wait to go into the Suez Canal

The sun rises as we wait to go into the Suez Canal

A Suez Canal Pilot Boat alongside the Costa Fortuna

A Suez Canal Pilot Boat alongside the Costa Fortuna

The early ones set off with the MSC Lirica leading the way

The early ones set off with the MSC Lirica leading the way

The view from our cabin this morning

The view from our cabin this morning

A Red Sea Day

A Red Sea Day

Last night we sailed from Eilat 10 minutes before our scheduled departure time of 11:00pm. As soon as all the excursions had arrived back we eased away from our mooring position and started on our way again. One of the trips Costa had offered was to Jerusalem by flight and coach which seems a bit OTT to me on a cruise but I suppose once you in Israel then maybe it makes sense to make the most of it.
Today our cruise involved sailing round the bottom of the Sinai peninsula and then a northerly path towards the Suez canal. We should arrive at the entrance to the canal tomorrow morning around 5:00am.
Today there was a marked difference in sea conditions with a good strong sea breeze and a nice swell to go with it. Lots of white tops all around and when the sun was shining on them it did look quite spectacular. My kind of sea day.
We also spotted the security on guard still even though we are out of pirate country. Obviously Costa are not taking any chances while passing Egypt either. I am not sure about the first line of our defence though.
Tonight is Italian night and the suggested dress attire is red, white & green. We have always enjoyed this night on Costa ships as most people tend to join in with the fun.

Costa Fortuna Red Sea Day & Security on lookout

Costa Fortuna Red Sea Day & Security on lookout

Costa Fortuna Red Sea Day - Our first line of defence

Costa Fortuna Red Sea Day – Our first line of defence

Eilat queue for landing card stamp

Eilat queue for landing card stamp

Eilat queue for landing card stamp with us now in it!

Eilat queue for landing card stamp with us now in it!

In the early hours of this morning the ship made the very short trip across the end of the Gulf of Aqaba to Eilat, Israel.
When we first boarded the ship in Dubai we had our passports retained for collection so that the Israeli authorities could do face to face identification when we reached Eilat.
We were given the impression that all this would be done onboard ship which is how it has been done with us when we have done transAtlantic crossings. Not so in Eilat!

We were instructed to go to the theatre deck 3 to collect our passports and receive the landing cards, even if we had no intention of getting off. We thought that would be the end of it but how wrong we were. After getting our passports back we were then told to go to deck 0 to receive the stamp on our landing card. What they didn’t tell us was we then had to get off and proceed to the cruise terminal and go through immigration. We queued for 45 minutes before finally getting the stamp. Then all we did was turn round and get back on board placing the landing card in a collection box as we boarded. We had previously taken the decision to spend the day on board today after the long day yesterday.
So all that just to follow Israeli procedure. 1 hour of my life I won’t get back!
Even all of the crew had to go through this procedure which makes it even more so ridiculous.
Some Arabic countries will refuse you entry if you have an Israeli stamp in your passport but I do have some nice Oman, UAE & Jordan stamps in my passport now.

That’s it from me today, I have a date with a sun bed!

Eilat queue for landing card stamp (Welcome Indeed

Eilat queue for landing card stamp (Welcome Indeed

Border between Israel & Jordan

Border between Israel & Jordan

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