Middle East: Royal Caribbean – Arabian Gulf Cruise (Final)

The day after Christmas, we went to Abu Dhabi.  This was my least favorite port.

In my opinion, it was the least permissive.  In Muscat, men and women were much more interested in talking about their country and experiences. While they dressed in traditional attire, it felt okay.  In Abu Dhabi, I did not feel welcome.

Also, this was the day that it rained. What are the chances.

In Abu Dhabi,  I took the excursion UD01  City Tour and Grand Mosque, the description is below. I heard the tour to Al Ain was 150% better.  It didn’t rain there and it was much more interesting.

Discover Abu Dhabi’s captivating religious and cultural history as you embark on a guided tour of the magnificent Sheikh Zayed mosque and Heritage Village museum. Travel via motor coach past the picturesque fishing harbor and into the cosmopolitan capital city. Behold one of the world’s largest mosques, which can hold more than 40,000 worshipers, admiring its opulent chandeliers and ornate carpets. Learn about the UAE’s pre-oil Bedouin cultures through interactive Heritage Village exhibits and demos.

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This was the port that passengers had issues getting into the Mosque. Not only was there an intense inspection of female attire but there was a lot of confusion regarding how to get in due to the rain.

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When we finally got inside it was gorgeous.  On my way out of the mosque, one of the guys on my tour asked if I saw his wife, I made the mistake of responding.  I was promptly reprimanded for speaking to a man in the mosque. IMG_0373

Oh, and the guy in the white garb, pictured above, followed me throughout the mosque and waited for me to leave the bathroom. Then, he followed me into the parking lot until  he saw me getting into the bus.  I walked so fast:(

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On Dec 27, we returned to Dubai. I and a lot of other passengers were excited for the highest rated excursion,DA15 Dune Dinner Safari.

Below is the tour description from Royal Caribbean.

Enjoy an evening of traditional entertainment and fare in the heart of the desert, under a starlit sky. Travel across rolling dunes in a caravan of 4x4s, stopping to photograph landscapes and villages you’ll pass en route to the campsite. In this serene enclave, you can ride a camel, get your hands painted with henna, enjoy the music and dancing or just relax in a Bedouin tent with a water pipe before the dinner feast.

Well, it was cancelled.  Yup.  So, I went to Dubai mall on the free shuttle with a friend.

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We stayed until the lights display and then took the shuttle back to the ship.

Overall, it was a good experience at a good price.

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Middle East: Royal Caribbean – Arabian Gulf Cruise

 

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.

Travel Arrangements

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

Itinerary
Arrive Depart
Outbound Travel Arrangements:
20 DEC
21 DEC
EK 204-NEW YORK CITY (JFK), NY
EK 204-DUBAI (DXB)
8:10 AM 10:40 AM
Pre Cruise Arrangements:
Cruise Itinerary:
21 DEC
22 DEC
23 DEC
24 DEC
25 DEC
26 DEC
27 DEC
28 DEC
DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
KHASAB, OMAN
MUSCAT, OMAN
MUSCAT, OMAN
CRUISING
ABU DHABI,UNITED ARAB EMIR.
DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
8:00 AM
9:00 AM8:00 AM
8:00 AM
6:00 PM
5:00 PM6:00 PM6:00 PM
Post Cruise Arrangements:
Transfer from Pier
Inbound Travel Arrangements:
28 DEC
28 DEC
EK 201-DUBAI (DXB)
EK 201-NEW YORK CITY (JFK), NY
1:55 PM 8:30 AM
Important Notice:
EK-204 – EMIRATES – Operated By EMIRATES
EK-201 – EMIRATES – Operated By EMIRATES

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.

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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.

 

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Outside of Jumeirah Mosque

 

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.