April 06, 2016

World Cruise 2016 Day 92

Day 92 – We arrive in Aqaba, Jordan and are cleared by local officials about 30 minutes early. At 8:00 this morning the temperature is 71 and the humidity only 44%. Skies are partly cloudy and any breeze is slight. What a change.

This is Jordan's only seaport. Like many of our ports this is a heavy industrial port. One freighter is unloading steel wire coils. A second has something in large sacks, probably weighing many tons each. At least three ships are unloading grain, it looks like wheat. When the workers take a break, thousands of birds descend on the ship and pier for a free lunch where some of the grain has been spilled. There are three ships that are too far away to see their cargo. It looks like every pier is occupied, and three ships are anchored nearby awaiting dock space.

There is one freighter tied to the pier that won't be going anywhere soon. A fire has consumed the bridge structure from the waterline to the top of the structure on the starboard side. It looks like this was a recent occurrence.

Mid morning I take the shuttle bus into town. The bus stops at the pier gate to wait for someone to remove the traffic cone blocking the exit, not to check any paperwork. We are dropped off in a parking lot near a tourist information booth. I pick up a local map and walk around the central area for about an hour. There really is very little here. Several large hotels, several public beaches, and an area where they are unearthing ancient ruins. Taxis want to take you somewhere, anywhere, they insist "it will cost you not much". I decline.

I relent and get chicken nuggets and a Coke at McDonald's. They take my order and then deliver it to my table. There are several other cruise passengers at McDonald's using the free WiFi.

The other 15 or 20 store fronts and restaurants in the complex are closed and out of business. It is a shame, as the location appears to be ideal with several of the restaurants overlooking the harbor. I walk back to the parking lot, a bus is waiting, I board and return to the ship, this time we don't even slow down at the gate.

Do you put off the chore of washing your car because it is so much work? Well today the Amsterdam is getting a bath. The crew is out in full force washing her down from top to waterline. I can see them washing the Starboard side of the ship, as a lot of it is done from the dock. I don't know if they did the port side or if that has to wait until another day when the captain docks with the port side to the pier. Most importantly, even the Crow's Nest windows get washed. Now we can see out the windows to watch passing ships and sunsets. Some things are very important.

This afternoon I do laundry, without a hitch. There is no one else at the laundry today, and all the "out of service" signs have been removed. I will assume that also means the machines have been fixed. The reality is there is hardly anyone on the ship at all, or they are all hiding in their cabins.

I mentioned two days ago that there were no sports channels on TV. Well today there are no news channels either. Usually we can get the International versions of BBC, FOX, MSNBC and CNBC. I never watch these at home, and find it interesting that they broadcast the same story for weeks. In some cases they rebroadcast stories from three and four years ago.

By 8 PM the air temperature has risen to 82, but the humidity has dropped to 23% as we have a 12 MPH wind off the desert. We don't sail until 11:00 PM and there is a "Bedouin BBQ" prepared on deck for dinner. There are many items to choose from including roasted stuffed goat, (yes the whole goat), BBQ lamb, beef, salmon, or chicken. With dozens of side dishes and many deserts to choose from, there was something for everyone. Of course you could still go to the dining room or the Lido if you chose to. I expect the goat was started in the galley and then just finished on the charcoal. Everything else except the salmon was cooked on the large charcoal grills.

There is no show tonight, just a movie in the main theater.

Tomorrow we head towards the Suez Canal where we have to wait for assignment of our transit time. I'm sure we will hear more later, but it doesn't sound like the Suez Canal is as tightly run as the Panama Canal where entry times can be scheduled months in advance.