The first half of this cruise was fairly port intensive. Every day at sea I was busy writing about what we had just experienced and going through way too many photographs. Lately, we have enjoyed a total of five days at sea, much too many for some people, but something we enjoy on a ship, especially one like this which has taken on some guest lecturers. Every morning I feel like I’m back in college attending lectures about the area and what lies ahead. We are thrilled to be going to Petra tomorrow and there is much to learn about this site which is on the list of seven wonders of the modern world. One lecturer is a national park ranger and he talks about the flora and fauna of the seas we are sailing though. When we are on a big ship we assume that the animals will be long gone before we can catch a glimpse, but people have spotted whales, dolphins, flying fish and all manner of birds. Many migrating birds are still here waiting for things to warm up at home. As are we.
Two lecturers are retired professors and fill us in on the history of this area, long regarded as the cradle of civilization. I’m sorry to say that many of the things they discuss are totally unfamiliar, but after hearing them more than once, a few things are beginning to stick. It’s great to be a student once again. The fourth speaker is a techie and he uses Google Earth to zoom over our route and what to expect. His lecture made us realize that this cruise will fill in the gap so we can truly say we have cruised all the way around the world. How cool is that?
The Constellation is a medium-sized older ship and is headed for a facelift shorty after we disembark. This means that it is not glitzy and doesn’t inspire photography, but it is a clean and comfortable home. The warm weather means that half of us spend the day sunning around the pool and there is plenty of space inside for everyone else. The ship never feels crowded even though it is full. We have never been on a ship where the entire crew has been so friendly and available. We always fall in love with some waiters or cabin attendants, learning about their lives at home and the sacrifices they make to support their loved ones as they work eight month contracts on board. On this ship the cruise director has been very visible and we have had numerous conversations with him. The fact that he spent his young adulthood in our home town was a conversation starter, but he makes himself available all day long. It makes us wonder why we rarely saw previous cruise directors. We chose to eat dinner at any time, rather than at a scheduled seating. This means we rarely eat with the same people twice. Generally, we are the only Americans at the table, but everyone we have met speaks great English wherever they are from. Fellow diners seem surprised and glad that we usually can say that we have visited their country and appreciate our observations about our experiences there. We are grateful that none of them has questioned us about the current political situation in our country. The ship has taken on enough performers so that we never see the same thing twice, even on these long stretches at sea. Most are musicians. We would love to see more comedians, but with an audience of so many nationalities humor is too idiosyncratic.
Our dangerous sail into the Red Sea has ended without incident and last night all the lights were on outside once again. We did encounter a large rust bucket dead in the water that wasn’t flying any identifying flags. As we got close a zodiac containing two men took off and headed toward us. It went out of our view and no explanation was given so creative rumors flew around the ship. Later we heard that this nondescript vessel took away the rifles that the snipers had at the ready. Jordan doesn't want any more guns. We’re on our own once again.