By Carla Sue Broecker
Nearing the end of our cruise on the Regent Seven Seas Voyager that began on Dec. 29, 2017, we left Mumbai for a whole day at sea. It wasn’t wasted, however. We spent the day organizing clothes and starting to pack since we would be disembarking in a few days. We realized while in Mumbai that we were going to need another suitcase. Our bathtub – which we used for storing souvenirs – was pretty full, and we needed the separate shower for its intended purpose.
Following the sea day, we sailed into Muscat, Oman. It is a place we have enjoyed before, but we were looking forward to refreshing our old memories. We took a “Splendors of Muscat” shore excursion to see many traditional sites.
The tour started off at the Bait Adam Private Museum, which is a small museum with lots of artifacts. The entryway doors were most unusual and probably the most interesting part of the whole place. Always willing to be a supporter of gift shops of every sort and description, I found the one at this stop to be way short of interesting or exciting. Dusty is a word that comes to mind and seems the most appropriate.
Our next stop, the beautiful Zawawi Mosque, should definitely be near the top of any list of interesting sites in Oman. It was built by the son of Abdul Zawawi to commemorate his father and was completed in 1995. We did not get to go in but had a generous photo stop with lots of sunshine to make the site even more splendid.
The Mutrah Souq was our next stop, and there was plenty of time for shopping. However, we held back our retail urge because we knew the mammoth-sized Dubai Souq was coming up the next day.
In the mid-afternoon, we headed back to the ship to do more packing and get ready for a special private dinner that the ship’s social director was hosting. What was even more special was that we were invited to sit with her at her table.
Before dinner, there was a special show called Krew Kapers. It is put on by members of the crew from all the various departments from housekeeping to laundry. Those that participate rehearse in the wee hours of the morning and are really quite sweet and talented. Maybe not quite ready for Broadway, but it is fun to see your cabin steward and favorite dining room server singing on stage and doing traditional dances from their native countries. Not all of the staff members perform, but some 45 countries are represented in the crew, so there was quite a lot of diversity in the entertainment.
Following Krew Kapers, we were off to the cruise director’s invitation-only dinner. It was held in a private part of the dining room on Deck 11, which is usually closed in the evening. When we arrived as expected, the doors were closed. When we opened them to walk in, there was a thunderous round of applause from the entire entertainment company waiting inside. We were astounded to find that the special dinner was being held in our honor! Wow! We had made friends with most of the entertainers and had at times invited them to join us for dinner in the Compass Rose Dining Room, where they are only allowed to go on invitation from guests. This was a wonderful and charming payback that we enjoyed thoroughly.
Before dinner was over, some friends dropped by to say hello: the ship’s general manager, Masimo, Capt. Daniel Green, several of the dining room managers and our friend Marla Sanders, who was the social hostess we enjoyed so much. Needless to say, we were very touched since nothing like this had ever been done for passengers before.
We went off to bed very happy knowing that it was the last full night of sleep we were going to get on board the Voyager for a long time.
The next day, we arrived in Dubai. The plan was to spend the morning finishing our packing and the afternoon on our very last shore excursion. We would be up early the following morning, at 3:30 to be exact, to catch our plane home.
Dubai, which is part of the United Arab Emirates, is a bustling cosmopolitan metropolis. In the last few years, the city has attracted worldwide attention through many innovative large construction projects.
The Burj Al Arab, a spectacular hotel with astounding rates, is no longer the tallest building in Dubai. It was superseded in 2010 by the Burj Khalifa or Burj Dubai, which stands at 828 meters or 2,716 feet tall – more than half a mile! But it will soon be outdone by a 1,000-meter building now under construction near the Dubai Creek, a soon to be UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Then, there is the Atlantis Hotel at the Palm Dubai. Constructed from reclaimed land and built in the shape of a palm, it is best seen and appreciated from the air.
After packing and having lunch, we set out on our “Discover Dubai” excursion, which started with a drive to Jumeirah Mosque, a spectacular honey-colored stone mosque. We did a brief photo stop and then moved on to a photo stop outside of the previously mentioned Burj Al Arab hotel. We were there some years ago for tea. Now, tourists without a reservation are not welcome and it is extremely “high end.”
No visit to Dubai is complete without a visit to the Dubai Museum, which is constructed inside an old fort. Visitors walk down a circular ramp under the fort to see many scenes of ancient life in the area before it became so grand.
We then continued on to Abra Station on the banks of Dubai Creek, the waterway that divides the city. We took an open-topped ferry boat to the other side of the creek to visit the gold and spice souk. It is a wild and busy open market with more gold jewelry than you could imagine. Also, there were lots of spices – including frankincense and myrrh just like the Wise Men carried to Bethlehem – and mountainous piles of saffron.
After this sensory overload, we climbed into our delightfully cool coach and headed for the pier to get ready for our last dinner.
Our final chore was to sit all six of our packed suitcases out in the hall beside our door. They were picked up by members of the crew and taken to the ship’s hold to be unloaded early the next morning into the terminal. There, they were sorted by colored tags so they could easily be claimed and taken through immigration and customs.
We decided to indulge ourselves and come home on Emirates Air in business class. The service was on an Airbus A380, which is a double decker airplane and extremely new. The plane has two boarding ramps, one for the top deck and one below. In business class the seats beside the windows are single seats, while couples traveling together have two side by side seats down the middle. The food was out of sight and the service exceptional.
Already tired, we then changed planes in New York and flew to Charlotte to catch a plane to good old SDF, arriving at midnight.
It was nice to be home. We had a good time and were surprised to figure out that on the ship, we had travelled 35,473 land miles and visited 69 separate ports. Though we’ve only been home a short time, we are already looking forward to boarding the Seven Seas Navigator on Jan. 4, 2019 for a world cruise leaving Los Angeles and returning to New York 131 days later. VT