So we left Southeast Asia, transited the Indian Ocean, and even tiptoed our way through the Gulf of Aden, right under the noses of the napping Somali pirates. But the Red Sea transit presented an entirely different challenge from, say, the empty, wave-tossed Indian Ocean passage. Suddenly, the twin factors of politics and religion reared their ugly heads. Mideast war intruded. The U.S. State Department warned us, via our shipboard email, not to step ashore in Eritrea—just as we were about to clear into the specifically mentioned dangerous port of Massawa, where U.S. citizens were being tossed into jail without charge or trial. Sudan was under United Nations-imposed sanctions. And Egypt was, well, Egypt.