Sailing the Gulf of Aden

Sailing aboard Silversea's Silver Wind en-route to Safaga, Egypt. Photo taken earlier this week in Salalah, Oman.  Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Sailing aboard Silversea’s Silver Wind en-route to Safaga, Egypt. Photo taken earlier this week in Salalah, Oman. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Position as of 18:49 L: 12° 58’19” N, 43° 11’57” E

Speed: 19.7 knots

Wind: 8 km/h / Seas: less than 1 metre

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Aaron Saunders, Live Voyage Reports

Silversea’s Silver Wind finds herself once again in the Gulf of Aden today as she makes her way from Salalah, Oman to our next port of call in Safaga, Egypt, where we will arrive at 0700 on Sunday morning.

In the old days, a long sea voyage used to be prescribed for a variety of maladies. It was thought that the sea air had restorative properties and was good for what ails you. While doctors no longer offer up a weeklong cruise as the proverbial cure-all, they probably should – particularly itineraries like this that have long stretches of days spent entirely at sea.

At sea once again today. Our transit of the Gulf of Aden has been smooth as glass.  Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

At sea once again today, as seen through the aft-facing doors of the Panorama Lounge on Deck 8. Our transit of the Gulf of Aden has been smooth as glass. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Truth be told, I’ve felt exhausted for the past few days – so much so that I’ve had to have a mid-afternoon nap, which I almost never take. I tried everything to avoid this yesterday, even using the Illy espresso machine in my suite to whip myself up a double espresso in the hopes of keeping my eyes open. Finally, I couldn’t fight it any more: I laid down for an hour-long “power nap.” It must have worked; in what seemed like the blink of an eye, my iPhone was waking me up.

Here’s the difference between a Silversea cruise and a mainstream cruise: the Silversea cruise encourages you to focus on you. It invites you to slow down, to escape the rush of that thing we call “the real world.”

How do you escape the "real world" here onboard the Silver Wind? Well, you can play golf in the atrium lobby on Deck 4... Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

How do you escape the “real world” here onboard the Silver Wind? Well, you can play golf in the atrium lobby on Deck 4… Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

...or enjoy high tea in La Terrazza on Deck 7.  Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

…or enjoy high tea in La Terrazza on Deck 7. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Writing about cruises sounds very glamorous, but it isn’t. The hours are long; the free time, almost nonexistent. I get to watch movies on airplanes. I read books on trains. I rarely sit still for more than a few moments at a time, and when I do, it’s to write – typically for stretches longer than I should. I suspect most Silversea guests have similar lives: regardless of what they do, I can guarantee virtually all of them are busy.

So when you see the daily activities in the Silversea Chronicles and see a handful of lectures interspersed with items like “Jigsaw Puzzle – come and add a few pieces”, your first thought – if you’ve never sailed a luxury line – might be to assume that a luxury cruise is boring. It isn’t.

Tea time is offered every afternoon at 4:00 p.m. aboard Silver Wind. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Tea time is offered every afternoon at 4:00 p.m. aboard Silver Wind. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Instead, a luxury cruise focuses your attention on you. Here aboard the Silver Wind, things are relaxed. Guests are sunning themselves by the pool. Reading on-deck. Joking and laughing with new friends over drinks. Watching movies in their suites.

And it’s fabulous. Absolutely, unequivocally, fabulous. There’s no rock-climbing walls here. There’s no forced or manufactured fun. No robotic bartenders that occasionally go on the fritz. Only real people, interacting with other real people in a convivial environment that encourages rest, relaxation and true, genuine enjoyment.

 Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Maritime traffic in this stretch of the world has been sparse. Note the container ship obscured by the fog in the distance. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Today at Noon, Captain Arma announced we were sailing 51 nautical miles off the coast of Yemen, abeam of the recently-overrun city of Aden. With so much distance between us, we’re perfectly safe here onboard the Silver Wind, and cannot even see the coastline, much less Aden itself. In fact, with no ships in sight and perfectly calm seas, we could just as easily be sailing the mid-Atlantic. It’s an excellent lesson in geography for those of us onboard: the world really is bigger than it seems in this digital age.

This afternoon, on our second of four straight days at sea, I took some time to read up on the Suez Canal, which we will transit on 14 April. A passage between Europe and Asia had been considered as early as 1798 and likely would have happened earlier than it did had that fun-loving conquistador Napoleon hired engineers who were better at mathematics. Acting on behalf of the diminutive leader, Napoleon’s engineers had mistakenly calculated that a difference of ten kilometres existed between the two sea levels, and that a canal was an impossibility.

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Our Live Voyage Report aboard Silversea’s elegant Silver Wind continues tomorrow as we spend another day at sea en-route to Safaga, Egypt! Be sure to follow along on twitter by following @deckchairblog or the hashtag #LiveVoyageReport.

 

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