In the next several posts, I will review my last Christmas cruise to the Arabian Gulf. This cruise is offered again this year on Royal Caribbean and with variations on Celebrity and Azamara.
For the first time in my life, I arranged the entire trip through Royal Caribbean utilizing their site. I usually book cruises through Costco Travel and air separately. However, this cruise was cheaper through Royal Caribbean. I paid $1,273.32 for a balcony room as a solo.
When reviewing the below itinerary, please note that the outbound flight times are in the wrong order. I was to leave NYC at 10:40am and arrive in Dubai at 8:10am
Day One – Dubai
When I booked the trip, I also booked a tour excursion to take me from the airport to the pier. The excursion was DA48 Embark Transfer to Ship via Dubai City Tour.
About a week before I left, I received an email from Royal Caribbean stating that they were changing the time of my tour from 10:30am to 9:00am. Since I didn’t arrive in Dubai until 8:10am, I was concerned. I called Royal and they said everything would be fine. The tour was to depart from the airport to the Le Méridien Dubai and included transportation from the airport to the Le Méridien, luggage transferred directly to the ship, cruise check-in at the hotel and a hot buffet breakfast.
On December 21, 2015, after spending 15 hrs in economy on Emirates, which is a lovely airline, I arrived in Dubai to chaos.
Since I only took my Briggs and Riley carry-on, I left the plane and strolled the airport looking for the Royal Caribbean sign for my tour. Guess what, there wasn’t any signage for the tour. But there were about 10 people with Royal Caribbean signs that knew nothing about the tour.
I was told to join a queue of people that were being taken to the hotel and it would be figured out there. At this point, it was about 8:45am and I was in the full panic mode. I just knew I would miss the tour.
When we arrived at the hotel, I explained my problem and they pointed me to the bus. I ran with the carry-on straight to the bus.
Yes, that is correct. I did not get checked-in, breakfast or at that point trust them to take my luggage to the ship.
The tour was perfectly fine but it was a lot of sitting and then get up to walk for 5 minutes. So basically, it wasn’t the best tour for someone that had been sitting for 15 hrs.
The tour as described by Royal Caribbean:
After your plane lands, discover modern and historic Dubai driving past engineering marvels, legendary hotels, glittering souks and quaint homes. Sheikh Zayed Road’ s architectural feats shape the city skyline, featuring Burj Khalifa, the world’ s tallest building. See Burj Al Arab hotel’ s luxury, Jumeirah Mosque’ s Islamic design and Dubai World Trade Centre, once the Middle East’ s highest tower. Bastakia Quarter offers historic coral stone houses cooled by wind towers, while the Deira region highlights dazzling souks.
After the tour, I had the privilege of standing in a queue at the pier for 2hrs to go through check-in. Yes, that was supposed to be handled at the hotel.
I will continue the review in my next post, beginning with Day 2: Khasab, Oman.