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Cruise Diary: Port Said, Egypt

Guests Jan and Dick Yetke set sail on Prinsendam’s 64-day Grand Mediterranean Voyage in March, and we’ve just received these wonderful posts. We’ll catch up as quickly as possible. Enjoy the journey with Jan and Dick!

Port Said, Egypt, was a first-time stop for us. We have sailed past this city many times since it is directly at the north end of the Suez Canal when you exit going north. It never looked like much of a city to us as we sailed by, so we were very surprised to see it on an itinerary as a full day stop. Well, guess it is just to have a different stop and also for the overnight excursions, it is a place to return to. They offered excursions to Cairo from here also.

All the photos were taken from our balcony while we were docked. As you can see, there was still a significant sand storm going on since the atmosphere was very hazy from the sand. I decided to stay on board and rest — I actually slept most of the whole day.

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Mid-afternoon, Dick went out for a short bike ride. He turned right when getting off the ship and followed the wall and street around to get to the other side of town where the sea was. And there he said there was a very nice concrete walkway that went for about three miles so he had a nice ride along the sea. I was very happy to see him return! Many people got off and just shopped at the vendors that were in the port area. So, not too of an exciting day for us. But this is a very port-intensive itinerary that can get very tiring! Need to rest every now and then!

Some history: Port Said is a city in northeastern Egypt, and a port on the Mediterranean Sea, at the entrance to the Suez Canal. The city is built on low, sandy ground between Lake Manzilah and the Mediterranean Sea. The principal occupations in Port Said include fishing and the manufacturing of chemicals, processed food, and cigarettes. It also has a large export trade, notably in cotton and rice, and is a fueling station for ships traveling the canal route. It is also a summer resort. Port Said was established in 1859, when work on the Suez Canal began. Nearly the entire population of Egypt speaks Arabic. However, only well-educated people easily understand standard Arabic. Colloquial Egyptian Arabic is the language of daily conversation. Many Nubians also speak their ancestral language. Berber is spoken in a few settlements in the oases of the Western Desert. Coptic Christians use the Coptic language, descended from ancient Egyptian, for liturgical purposes, but it is not a language in daily use. English and French are common second languages among educated Egyptians.

The city suffered attacks as well as financial hardships during the Suez Crisis and again during the wars of 1967 (the 6-day War) and 1973 (Yom Kippur War). The two conflicts led to a long period of bitterness between Egypt and Israel, but the two nations finally found peace under the leadership of President Sadat and Prime Minister Begin (brokered by the Carter administration, the U.S. had a great deal at stake in the operation of the canal). After the peace accords, the city was rebuilt and now thrives as one of Egypt’s most important urban centers. There are a little more than 400,000 permanent residents, but many Egyptians (and foreigners) maintain summer homes at the port as well. The city beach is lined with vacation properties.

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