petrasmall.jpgAs my two most recent cruises have both been to the Red Sea, I was greatly amused by the reaction prompted by my friend Gene Sloan’s report that Costa is planning to base two ships in the region next winter.
His USA Today Cruise Log reports that the 820-passenger Costa Allegra and the 770-passenger Costa Marina – two of the oldest and smallest vessels in their 15-strong fleet – will be sailing seven-night cruises from Sharm el Sheikh in Egypt.
The itineraries include calls at Adabiyah, about two hours’ drive from Cairo; Safaga, about four hours from Luxor; and Aqaba in Jordan, for excursions to Petra (above). Not sure why they are also including Eilat in Israel as it can only be about 30 minutes sailing time from Aqaba.
What had me laughing, though, were the responses from Gene’s readers, most of whom seemed horrified at the thought of taking a cruise to somewhere they consider to be a hotspot for all the wrong reasons.
One wrote “While this area is rich in history, we’d be too concerned about the region’s strife to enjoy ourselves,” and another, whose grasp of geography is clearly about as good as George Bush’s, said: “Do they charge for extra days if we are hijacked and have to wait to be ransomed?”
One even went so far as to say he’d only consider a Red Sea cruise if he was supplied with an M-16 machine gun for self defence. Do these guys think that because it’s called the Red Sea it’s bristling with anti-American Communists?
Some, at least, talked sense, such as the contributor who wrote “I wish people would actually check their facts before making comments on ‘hijacking.’ This is far from the coast of Sudan. All three countries are quite safe and far from the Gaza strip. The only country that is close is Saudi Arabia (which doesn’t allow for tourism in any case).”
Well he’s almost right. It’s lawless Somalia that has become infamous for pirates, not Sudan.
A Red Sea cruise is perfect both for tourists looking to visit historic sites such as the Pyramids and the Valley of the Kings (as long as they are prepared for the long drives by coach) and for diving and snorkelling among the colourful sea life and coral reefs.
My only concern would be with the inadequate facilities at Sharm el Sheikh airport – things went much more smoothly when I flew into King Hussein airport at Aqaba.