Of all the things that surprised me while going around the world via cruise ship, the biggest surprise were the canals. I’m not sure why, but I expected them to be really boring days where we would simply be traveling slower than usual. I also thought they would be really loud for some reason.
As is the case with most of my assumptions, this was completely not the case. The canals were one of my favorite parts of the entire voyage. It’s not every day that you get to go through a surprisingly narrow yet deep bit of water. Seeing the entire process required getting up early, which I was not willing to do. However, I do know some more dedicated people who stayed up all night because there’s no way to know exactly when the ship is going to get the green light to start puttering in the single-file line of ships.
I also found it rather fascinating and rather random that there’s an Egyptian-Japanese Friendship Bridge. Japanese government: “Hey, you know what would be fun? To pay 60% of the cost to build a bridge between African and Eurasia! Maybe they’ll even paint a Japanese flag on it!” Perhaps it’s not so random, but seeing as how it’s geographically on the other side of Asia from Japan, it seemed a bit strange to me. The passengers all loved it, though. They made an announcement over the PA system and everyone swarmed out. Luckily the ship didn’t tip over.
The coolest part was that the crew opened up what is usually a “crew only” area so that we could stand in the front of the ship as we passed through. It was incredible seeing two continents at once; Africa and Asia while thinking about the history of the canal and all the people that it took to create it, and what it means for us now. If it weren’t for the canal, this voyage that I was on would probably take another month. Craaaazyyyy! I know it’s something that you learn in history class in grade school, but learning history is one thing, thinking about it while looking it straight in its canal-y face is another.
It’s interesting to note that while most of the Asia side had a cement wall between the water and land, the Africa side was just a normal bank, just like a river. I also thought it was really cool to see small canoes boats come up pretty close to ours (because we were going so slow, there was very little wake, allowing the boats to come pretty close). Usually any size comparison was with other cargo or passenger ships at port, which are fairly comparable or even larger so I felt like I giant. At 5’1″ (153cm), that was a first for me.
JAPAN (on the inside of the boat) because everything in the passenger area was just so Japanese, even though the ship itself was from Panama and the crew were mostly from Indonesia and India. And if there’s one thing that the Japanese love, it’s characters. Many banks and otherwise very traditional companies even have animated characters of some kind. Therefore, of course we had Suez Canal characters (really we just stuck random items from the fancy dress closet on two unlucky staff members). Their job that day was to walk around and take pictures with everyone. Including me!