This voyage was performed by compulsion, having been forced to accompany the eunuch Solyman Pacha, who was sent by Solyman Shah emperor of the Turks on an expedition against the Portuguese in India. At the time when the war broke out in 1537, between the republic of Venice and the Turks, a fleet of trading gallies happened to be at Alexandria in Egypt, commanded by Antonio Barbarigo, and remained there without opportunity of trading or taking in goods till the 7th of September; on that day Almaro Barbaro the Venetian consul, the captain Antonio Barbarigo, and all the merchants and seamen, with every thing belonging to them, were seized and lodged in the tower of Lances. After this, all of them that belonged to the sea, and the author of this voyage among the rest, were taken from the tower and sent by fifty at a time to Cairo; whence Solyman Pacha, having selected the gunners, rowers, carpenters, caulkers, and officers, sent them by companies to Suez to assist in fitting out the fleet in that port against his own arrival.
Suez stands in a desert place, where grows no herb of any kind. At this place the ships are built which are designed for India. All the timber of which they are built, with the iron work, and every kind of tackle, are brought from Satalia and Constantinople to Alexandria; whence they are carried on the Nile in jerbs or barks to Cairo, and thence on the backs of camels to Suez, where Pharaoh was drowned. On the road from Cairo to Suez, which is eighty miles, there is not a single habitation, and no water or any thing whatever for eating is to be found, so that the caravans before setting out must supply themselves with water from the Nile. In former times, Suez was a great city well supplied with cisterns for holding water, and had a Kalij or canal cut all the way from the Nile, by which these cisterns were annually filled at the overflow of the river, which served them with water all the rest of the year. Being afterwards destroyed by the Mahometans, the canal was filled up, and all the water that is drank at Suez is brought upon camels from certain ponds or wells six miles distant; which water, though very brackish, they are obliged to drink; every fifty men being allowed as much water as a camel can carry. All the timber, iron, rigging, ammunition, and provisions for the fleet were brought from Cairo. Suez stands on a bay of the Red Sea, and has a small fort with mud walls, thirty paces square, which is guarded by twenty Turks. The fleet destined for India consisted of seventy-six sail; of which six were Maons, seventeen gallies, twenty-seven foists, two galleons, four ships, and the rest small craft.