14 January. Cadiz, Spain. As I've been here before, we decided to go to to Seville. It's about an hour and a half away. When we got there, we visited the Alcázar, an interesting place full of palaces and gardens. After spending some time there we went to the cathedral, where Christopher Columbus is buried, but the queue was too long. Instead, we went to the Hard Rock Cafe for lunch and then strolled to Plaza España, where we saw the fountain but nothing else. After that we walked through the Jardines de Murillo to the Jewish quarter. This is full of narrow alleys and streets. Then on to one of the wide avenues before dropping in to the Hotel Alfonso XIII, which is very ornate inside. I was amazed at all the orange trees everywhere and even more so by the oranges on them, even in mid-January. The architecture was stunning too.
17 January. Valletta, Malta. My first visit. It looked like it had been raining, but, although it was cool, it stayed dry for our visit. We walked from the ship to the lift and rode up to the main part of the town. We walked down Republic Street. We saw the Law Courts and opposite, the Co-cathedral of St John. Inside it was absolutely amazing. A complete contrast to the outside. Then we strolled around the town, out through the City Gate to the Triton Fountain. A quick visit to the Victor Pasmore Gallery and a snack lunch. Then a wander down to the port and a drink in the world's only remaining Hard Rock Bar before heading back on board.
20 January. Suez Canal Transit, Egypt. We were supposed to enter the canal at 3am and exit at 2:30pm. In the event we were running about an hour late, apparently because the first ship in the convoy couldn't raise it's anchor. Barbara and I woke up earlier than usual and were able to be on deck in time to pass under the Egyptian-Japanese Friendship Bridge. We cruised along the canal in convoy, past Ismailia, which appears to have moved banks! I guess my memory was playing up!! We had a barbecue lunch on deck and then saw Bohemian Rhapsody in the theatre. As we were having tea in the cabin afterwards, we entered the Red Sea. We're still 3 days from our next port. Last time I passed through the canal we went north.
25 January. Salalah, Oman. Oceana's and my maiden visit! Barbara and I took a ship's excursion to Job's Tomb. Our first stop was at the Frankincenseland Museum at Al Balid. We saw a frankincense tree outside, this is one of only three areas in the world where they grow. Inside were a lot of maritime artefacts and a lot about the history of Oman. Very little about frankincense though! An interesting stop nevertheless. Next up, was Job's Tomb. This is supposedly the real site of the tomb and is important to Islam, Christianity and Judaism. It's actually a small building surrounded by scrubland. Inside there is what appears to be a bed on the floor covered in a couple of coloured sheets. Then we drove through the Dhofar Mountains, past Mughsail Beach. We saw the remnants of a bridge that had been 500m long and that destroyed in a typhoon last year. Our last stop was at Manreef Caves where the views of the cliffs and sea were stunning. There are three blowholes there and sometimes the water rose quite high. People were standing over them and getting wet. An interesting day, but not particularly high on my list of places to revisit.
27 January. Muscat, Oman. Last time I was here was on the world cruise. AidaPrima was moored opposite. Today's trip was to the Nakhal Fort, about 100km from Muscat, in Nakhl. The Fort is an old and interesting place. It's surrounded by date palms and banana plantations on one side and the Hajar Mountains on the other. We spent about an hour exploring before heading to the Al Thowarah hot springs. Which is what it says on the tin! No commercialisation at all. Just hot water running into a stream where the local kids play. On the way we passed a butchers shop with a sign that said 'birds, poultry and chickens, murdered'! After lunch at a hotel we had a look at the outside of the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque in Muscat before heading back to the port. A very enjoyable day, but it would have been nice to go to the Mosque first and actually go inside as it's closed to non Muslims after 11am. After a cup of tea on board, we took the shuttle bus into the local souk, which we wandered round for a while before having a drink of lime and soda. A pretty good day, all in all. We finally won the Syndicate Quiz!
29 January. Dubai, UAE. I've visited Dubai a few times before. A very long day. We took the second shuttle into the Dubai Mall at 9:15 having been through immigration before breakfast. Then we went to Dubai Marina to sort out tomorrow's dhow cruise. We hopped on a tram and then after a walk through a multi storey car park took the monorail to Atlantis, The Palm. We'd already bought tickets for the Aquaventure water park and Lost World aquarium. After a quick lunch, we shared a double ring and went on the Rapids Ride. This a lazy river with rapids! It was cold and wet!! Then I went on a few rides in the Tower of Neptune. One was quite warm and went through a shark tank (in a tube) and the others weren't so warm. One took me back into the flaming rapids, again! Then we went to the Tower of Poseidon. Four rides and all up at least 10 flights of stairs. One of them involved standing in a Perspex tube and then the floor giving way. Eek! We then visited the Lost Chambers. An interesting aquarium but rather small, we thought. Back on the ship around 9pm. A hell of a long day but good fun.
30 January. Dubai, UAE. Our second of three days on the trot. In the morning we took the shuttle to the Dubai Mall and then went up the Burj Khalifa. I've been up before, but it was Barbara's first time. She's scared of heights! In the evening we went on a dinner cruise around the marina. The weather was cool as were Barbara's noodles. A long trip home on the Metro and a cab, as the ship's free shuttle stopped running at 22:00.
31 January. Dubai, UAE. Our last day in Dubai, this time around. AidaPrima arrived in the morning. We grabbed a cab from the Dubai Mall to the Miracle Gardens. Very pretty and very different. Afterwards we went back to the mall for coffee and a visit to Eataly. There was a long queue for the shuttle, so we grabbed a cab back to the ship.
1 February. Sir Bani Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, UAE. Another maiden port for the ship and me, also for P&O. There's not an awful lot here. Some wild animals on a part of the island and a posh hotel. We settled for a beach cabana, which was little more than an open sided structure with net curtains and long cushions. Still, it was nice to lay around and do nothing after 3 hectic days and another 3 to come.
2 February. Abu Dhabi, UAE. Another double maiden call. Docked in front of us was Mein Schiff 4. Today we took the HOHO bus. We saw the World Trade Centre, Fairmont Hotel, Emirates Palace Hotel, Presidential Palace, Al Hosn Fort and the Sheikh Zayed Mosque. We went into the fort. Long, hot and interesting day.
3 February. Abu Dhabi, UAE. MSC Spendida replaced Mein Schiff. The plan for today was a dhow cruise, Sheikh Zayed Mosque and Yas Island. We boarded the dhow and left the dock. Then the unthinkable happened. It rains two or three times a year in Abu Dhabi. Today was one of those days! The dhow returned to port and we got off. So over to the bus we went and travelled to the Grand Mosque. I don't think it looks particularly modern from a distance. Up close it is an amazing space. It has the world's largest one piece carpet that weighs tons. There's a huge chandelier and room for 40,000 worshippers. Islam certainly knows how to worship it's God.
4 February. Manama, Bahrain. Yet another set of maiden calls. We just hopped on to the shuttle bus and went into Manama. We saw the famous World Trade Centre. We also saw the Harbour Gate building and Wyndham Hotel. After a coffee in the souk, we asked directions to the Hard Rock Cafe. We followed them and then discovered we'd walked 35 minutes in the wrong direction. Sigh! A taxi took us to the right location, 20 minutes in the opposite direction from where we'd started. So that was HRC number 42 under my belt. For me Bahrain is definitely a 'been there done that' kind of place. I think that may be because of where we were dropped off and walked round.. Other people saw much nicer parts.
6 February. Khor Al Fakkan, Sharjah, UAE. Guess what? Another maiden port. We'd passed back through the straits of Hormuz again to the only Emirate on the Indian Ocean. The town itself isn't much and lots of it looks derelict. Today's excursion was to the city of Fujairah, capital of the Emirate of the same name. First stop was Fujairah Fort. Well preserved and quite small. Next up was the highlight of the tour. A visit to the Kalba Bird of Prey Centre, where we saw a few birds in action. We saw a falcon, barn owl, spotted eagle owl, young Egyptian vultures and group of other vultures. Very enjoyable and a lot of fun. Then it was a heritage centre and finally a museum.
7 February. Kassab, Oman. Our final maiden port and penultimate port of the cruise. Splendida was in port too, but unlike us, she tendered. Today we went on a dhow cruise into a fjord to Telegraph Island, so named because the British built a telegraph repeater station on it in the 19th century. After lunch we took a shuttle into the town which was basically closed because they have a siesta. We did find Wi-Fi though. There is a fort here, but we didn't have time for a visit.
8 February. Dubai, UAE. Our last full day and back in Dubai. AidaPrima and MSC's Lyrica and Splendida were moored near us. After a quick visit to the mall to change our Bahraini and Omani currencies into Dirhams, we had a visit to the QE2 which was moored close to us. It was interesting and I never thought I'd actually get on her. However, as she is now a hotel, not all of the features are original.
|Chinese New Year
2 min 53 secs
|Wake||Suez Canal||Boat||Bridge||Pilot Boat||Ismailia|
|Frankincense tree||Job's Tomb||Job's Tomb||Coast||Blowhole||Atrium|
|Diver||Burj Khalifa||Apple Store||Dubai Mall||Floor indicator||View|
|Me||Burj Khalifa||Darth Vader||Dubai||Boat||Cayan Tower|
|Big wheel||Miracle Gardens||Miracle Gardens||Miracle Gardens||Miracle Gardens||Miracle Gardens|
|Miracle Gardens||Miracle Gardens||Beach umbrellas||Window cleaners||Abu Dhabi||Fairmont Hotel|
|Bab al Qasr Hotel||Gateway||Emirates Palace Hotel||Mosque||Louvre||World Trade Centre|
|Mosque||Mosque||World Trade Centre||Wyndham Gerand Hotel||Hard Rock Cafe||Fort|
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