The Great Middle East Adventure Begins
I love to sail forbidden seas, and land on barbarous coasts.
Beginning this Sunday, I’ll set out on a cruise that is far from ordinary. In fact, it’s one of the most interesting itineraries I’ve seen in a long time – but it comes as no surprise to me that Silversea would be the line to offer it. I’ve been sailing with Silversea for over five years now, and the line has never left me disappointed in their willingness to go where others either can’t or don’t.
Voyage 2509 promises to be the trip of a lifetime. After an overnight stay at the Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa in Muscat, we’ll embark Silversea’s elegant 296-guest Silver Wind for a 15-day journey that will take us all the way from Oman, through the Suez Canal before finally arriving on April 20 in Piraeus – the port for Athens, Greece.
Along the way, we’ll call on Salalah, Oman; Safaga, Egypt; Aqaba, Jordan; Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt; Port Said, Egypt; Ashdod, Israel; Haifa, Israel; and Kusadasi, Turkey. All of that is capped off with six days at sea spread out across the entire voyage, and a day spent transiting the famous Suez Canal that connects the Mediterranean Sea with the Red Sea.
To make the most of my voyage, I’ve booked several spectacular Shore Excursions with Silversea, which I was able to pre-arrange online using the My Silversea booking tool. The descriptions of the shore excursion options for each voyage are outlined in detail on the website, along with cost and departure time. Reservations can be made ahead of time, and will simply be added to your onboard account for payment at the end of the cruise. It’s a nice feature, as sometimes I’ll change my mind several times before the voyage even begins as to which excursions I’d like to participate in.
I also have to admit how much I like Silversea’s printed Voyage Journals that are sent out pre-cruise. These double as your cruise documentation, and contain a wealth of information about each port of call. They’re also refreshingly honest: the itinerary page for Safaga, Egypt points out that the port is mainly an industrial one, with few options for those who elect to stay onboard. The real reason for calling on Safaga is its ideal location as a jumping-off point to visit Luxor and The Valley of the Kings – which we’ll be doing on a massive 13-hour shore excursion called, appropriately, “Luxor and the Valley of the Kings.”
We’re also going to a place I have long wanted to visit: the ancient site of Petra, in Jordan. Another full day adventure, this time from Aqaba, this nine-hour tour will take us straight to Petra first thing in the morning, before concluding with a local Bedouin lunch and a folklore performance.
In Ashdod, we’ll set out on Silversea’s “A Day In Jerusalem” tour for an in-depth look at some of Israel’s most important and sacred sites, including the Judean Hills, Jerusalem City, Mount Zion, Dormition Abbey, the Kidron Valley and the Gardens of Gethesmane.
We continue full-throttle the very next day in Haifa with a full-day tour of Nazareth and the Sea of Galilee. At 10.5 hours in length, it’s an ambitious one, but I love these mammoth e