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Cruise Summary by John R. Patrick

It was time for a break, and the Silver Spirit cruise ship operated by Silversea provided the right solution. The Silver Spirit typically accommodates 500 passengers and 425 crew members. The passengers on the Silver Spirit were 30% American, 25% British, and the rest from a mix from more than 30 other countries. We met a lot of very nice people, enjoyed great cuisine, entertainment and activities. The 691-foot ship and has nine decks. It can cruise at up to 21 knots. We prefer the smaller ship versus some which can accommodate 5,000 or more passengers.

The itinerary started and ended in Athens, Greece. Destinations included ten ports in Turkey, Cyprus, Israel, and Egypt. Links to shared photo albums are below. The weather was hot and seemed to get hotter each day. Nevertheless, it was great to see the ports, museums, pyramids, mosques, bazaars, and the ruins of ancient Greece. I found the ports themselves quite interesting. I watched how the port infrastructure was unloading ships while dozens of ships were anchored offshore awaiting their turn.

One sore spot for cruises has been the lack of quality Internet service. On top of that, cruise lines would often charge by the hour and put inconvenient limits on usage. Silversea, owned by Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., has implemented a great fix. Each of their ships has pizza box-sized antennas acquired from SpaceX’s Starlink. Silver Spirit had ten of the antennas on top of the ship. The Starlink service was 100% reliable, there were no noticeable delays, and speed was more than adequate. Not as fast (yet) as what most people have at home but fast enough for reliable upload and download. Silversea offered the Internet service free with no restrictions on usage. Nothing about a cruise is free but the Silversea model is to include food, beverage, gratuities, suite service, and Internet service in the basic fare.

Instead of traditional satellite service, which uses a satellite perched in geostationary orbit 22,500 miles above the Earth, Starlink uses low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites. Starlink is a satellite internet constellation developed by Elon Musk’s SpaceX. The constellation consists of nearly 5,000 satellites. One late night in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, I could see a string of the satellites recently deployed by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. See picture above. SpaceX launches between 40 and 60 satellites at a time, and they eventually spread out and up into their final orbits where they are not visible. SpaceX has plans to have launched more than 40,000 satellites in low Earth orbit. Being in low orbit, roughly 1,200 miles up, means less latency (delay) compared to traditional satellite service.

As I have said many times, photography is not part of my skill set. I point and shoot without taking advantage of the many enhancements an iPhone can provide. I made short videos in some cases like showing the activity in a port. One deficiency of Apple Photos, in my opinion, is the difficulty in adding captions which would enhance the photos. I hope you enjoy the following albums.

Athens, Greece

Istanbul, Turkey

Kusadasi, Turkey

Bodrum, Turkey

Rhodes, Greece

Paphos, Cyprus

Ashdod, Israel

Haifa, Israel

Alexandria, Egypt

Heraklion, Greece