May 1, 2017
This was our second visit to glitzy Dubai – it seems the purpose of this place is to get you into malls to spend money! And there are so many malls. Sheikh Mohammed is said to be a leader who doesn’t understand the word “no” and his building up of Dubai has made it a huge tourist destination. We visited the tallest building in the world last time – the Burj Khalifa. Now Dubai has no more oil so things have slowed down a bit but it is really a glamorous and futuristic destination. 30 years ago, it was just a desert where Bedouins roamed the sands. Hard to believe.
So this time, because we enjoyed it so much in Abu Dhabi last time, we decided to do the Desert Dune Drive Safari. We were picked up at the pier by Farouk, our driver and guide in a nice air conditioned 4 wheel drive Toyota (yes, it had roll bars). It was 104 degrees so the air conditioning was great as we ventured out into the desert. Brothers Tim and Larry shared our vehicle and were quite surprised at the luxury of air conditioning! They envisioned an open jeep. Well that wouldn’t work in the sand. 3 other vehicles joined us.
It took about an hour to drive out to the sand dunes in the desert. On the way, Farouk told us some things about Dubai. He is from Pakistan and has lived here for 10 years.
On the way we passed many futuristic buildings like this one, the Dubai Mirror which will allow people inside to see every angle from one spot!
We stopped for a break before our guides let some of the air out of the tires in preparation for the dune adventure. Sand was blowing already so now we know why the headresses are worn!
We had a fabulous time going up and down very high sand dunes. At times we came down sideways or went up to the top without knowing what was on the other side. I did use my go pro camera which I attached to the front handle in the vehicle so it had a view out of the front. I haven’t figured out how to download it yet (stay tuned when I get home).
The desert sand was hot! We did stop part way into our journey to take some photos.
A very fun day!
We came back to the ship to have a shower and get ready for our evening Around the World event on the World Islands – specifically the one named Lebanon. We had to take a bus to the waterfront then a ferry (very futuristic) to the Island. This is an artificial archipelago of 300 small islands constructed in the rough shape of a world map, located in the waters of the Persian Gulf, 4.0 kilometres (2.5 mi) off the coast of Dubai. The islands can only be reached by boat or helicopter and were intended to allow rich people say they owned a piece of the “world”. As it turns out, they ran out of money, and while some islands are privately owned, most of them are just uninhabited. Lebanon is the only one currently open to the public.
Our ferry trip took an hour, it turned out to be a bit more because we were stopped by a police boat. Who knows why – I thought that only happened in India!
I wore my new silk caftan that I bought in the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai and Norm wore the shirt that he bought there.
The event was beautiful – we had drinks and canapes then dinner. We were entertained with music by this musician – and later we saw a fire dancer show.
The ship didn’t leave until midnight so we were back in enough time. A very nice evening. We shared our table with Amanda and Corinne – the assistant cruise director and the social hostess – and also both are part of the production team and are wonderful singers. Alan and Beverly were also at our table.
Some of the lights we could see from the island and then in Dubai as we returned.
Of interest on the ship – several people who did the overland to Taj Mahal came back with GI problems. The protocol (according to our cruise director Ray – we had dinner with him last night and again on the island) is that if 1% of passengers are affected, they go all out in treatment and institute strict cleansing until there are no new cases for 72 hours – and they of course quarantine those who are affected. So, there are no dishes on the table until you sit down (different from the beautiful table settings), no salt and pepper shakers, etc. You can never serve your own food at the buffet but now you cannot even add the condiments like catsup or oil and vinegar. They clean the tables after people leave and you can’t sit at it for 15 minutes. The handrails are disinfected constantly. And everyone has to vacate staterooms in Abu Dhabi for 4 hours while they do a deep cleansing. It is a changeover day so about 350 new people will be coming on. For those 260 or so who are staying, they arranged a complimentary city tour of Abu Dhabi which we will do tomorrow. If you must stay on the ship during this time the only place you can be is a section on deck 10 in Horizons – for the whole 4 hours. And all the ships crew is going to be involved in the cleaning.
Kudos to Oceania for this strict protocol! And who knows, it might have just been some bad food in Agra and nothing contagious at all.