“Toto, I’ve a feeling we are not in Kansas anymore,”
Dorothy said to her little dog as she looked around at their emerald green surroundings in the 1939 movie,“The Wizard of Oz”
As we’ve been preparing for our upcoming spring adventure – a 35-day cruise - by reading travel guides, travel narratives, blogs, and other writings – we are preparing ourselves to make the same observation as Dorothy did to Toto . . . and likely more than once.
Our “Far East Odyssey” as this itinerary is called will take us to places in the world that we’ve always wanted to see – places that are located in the Middle East. By whatever name the cruise line wants to call it, (it does start in Bangkok) the fact is, we will be traveling through a most unstable area of the world.
On the flip side, what better way to travel to such exotic places than a comfortable cruise ship?
We will be among some 23 million travelers around the world who will be cruising in 2015, according to Cruise Lines International Association. Of course, it reports that most of those cruisers will be sailing from North American ports and that the Caribbean will remain the top cruising ground.
Our itinerary provides for stops – some overnight and one of at least two nights – in:
Yangon, Myanmar (formerly Rangoon, Burma).
Mumbai and Cochin, India.
Aqaba, Jordan – gateway to Petra and Wadi Rum.
(We’ll transit The Suez Canal)
Safaga, Egypt – gateway to Luxor.
Haifa, Israel – gateway to Jerusalem.
In between our exotic ports of call we’ll have nearly two weeks – portioned out with a day here and there – of ‘sea days’; those long leisurely days spent kicking back and watching the world go by from the comfort of the ship as we sail the Red Sea, Indian Ocean, Andaman Sea and Arabian Sea before entering the Mediterranean.
Middle East Realities
“Have you read the headlines lately,” a friend shrieked and visibly recoiled as I listed off our ports of call.
“This makes me very nervous,” said another as I was describing our plan for one port we intend to explore on our own. In three places we’ve booked organized tours.
“Hope your cruise doesn’t stop in any African ports; if so, stay on board,” wrote another friend after news of the terrorist attack in Tunisia was reported around the world.
I had gotten to this point in writing this post when it was confirmed that some of the tourists killed and others injured in Tunis, Tunisia yesterday were cruise ship passengers – on organized cruise ship tours.
They were from ships operated by Costa and MSC cruise lines. Both cruise lines have cancelled indefinitely all future cruise stops in Tunis, including a stop by Costa’s Fortuna ship.
It was the Fortuna that took us to Tunis, Tunisia on a cruise a few years ago.
Our ‘tour guide’ had led us through the labyrinth of a souk, its narrow walkways a maze at best. We concluded our half-day tour with a visit to the plaza pictured above. While it was definitely ‘no longer Kansas’ we never felt unsafe nor threatened as our little trio walked around.
We won’t be surprised if we get word from our cruise line – Oceania – of changes to the ship’s itinerary as world events continue to develop. Alternate ports of call could be visited or additional days at sea added. Or we could stay on course with no changes to the routing.
It will be interesting where ever we go. I am certain it ‘won’t be Kansas’ – or Kirkland!
We’ve got a few weeks before setting sail. For now, our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those tourists who became victims by simply taking a cruise tour. And for those cruisers and staff on board who are dealing with the tragic loss.
As always, thanks to all of you who spent time with us today. Hope to see you back here soon – until then happy and safe travels!