May - June 2015
  • Day33

    Conclusions

    June 10, 2015 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ☀️ 15 °C

    Overall this was one of the best cruises we've been on.
    The four days in Dubai with Maz and Sue were once again brilliant.
    Just the same as two years ago they were the perfect hosts, sometimes too perfect lol.
    I had to fight Maz to allow me to pay for anything, he did conceded once or twice, but under duress lol.
    Sue explained that it was the Arab way, not letting guests pay for anything when visiting their home.
    As for the cruise, I really enjoyed it, the fact that we hadn't done a cruise for six months probably helped as last year we did to many all very close together and we were cruised out.
    Also the new ship helped, as it's totally different from any other Royal Caribbean ship, especially in the layout, it was a very tranquil ship, nobody seemed to be rushing around and the whole atmosphere was sort of calm.
    Even the artwork was themed to be calming and reflective.
    As for the staff, we only had a problem with one of them, that was a guy in future cruises, everyone else was brilliant.
    The Captain was one of the best I've met, and definitely the most visible, we saw him all over the ship.
    He came up to the concierge lounge about 10 times during the trip, and covered the whole room each time, speaking to everyone.
    For the first time in ages we used the restaurants on board and not just the Windjammer, giving the dynamic dining a fair try, and I must say we where pleasantly surprised, it seemed to work perfectly.
    We tried most of the free restaurants the best of which imho was Chic, and two of the pay restaurants the best of which was Jamies Italian restaurant.
    The concierge lounge and diamond lounge where both nice if a bit small, considering the amount of diamond and above passengers on Royal ships these days.
    The diamond lounge at least is situated in a place where it is able to allow an overflow. The concierge lounge is situated right at the back of the ship, where it has beautiful views of the seas but no overflow availability.
    The entertainment on board was excellent and the cabaret lounge, which is called Two70, is beautiful and puts on AMAZING shows the one we saw was called Starwater.
    The lounge itself is very high tech with huge video projection screens, and robotics.
    One sad thing about the entertainment on our trip was that there was no Broadway show as Mama Mia had been taken off and nothing replaced it, to be fair we where informed of this and compensated for it.
    But it was still a disappointment.
    One show in the theatre that we missed was Sonic Odyssey and it got rave reviews from everyone who saw it, so not missing that one next time.
    Other entertainment which we didn't actually try but looked brilliant included, the Seaplex,, which has Bumper Cars, XBox room, table tennis, indoor basketball / football court, which converts into a roller rink complete with disco lights.
    Outside is the usual rock climbing walls, and Flow Rider, one great addition is the IFly, which is a skydiving simulator where you actually skydive in a big glass tube.
    Also there is the North Star which is basically a giant glass pod on the end do of a huge crane, that gives you amazing views of the ship and the sea, or the port if you're in Port.
    There are lots of other things to do, to many to mention here.
    Overall I'd score the Quantum of the seas 8 out of 10.
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  • Day23

    Dubai, Waffi Gourmet

    May 31, 2015 in the United Arab Emirates ⋅ ☀️ 44 °C

    Last night Maz arranged for us all to have a meal at Waffi Gourmet as his daughter Reima and son in law Hussam were going to be in Dubai overnight on business.
    We'd been to Waffi before with Maz so we knew that the food is good, and this time was no different.
    As last time we left the ordering to Maz, and he didn't let us down.
    The starters were typically Arabic with lots of dips, salads, falafel and freshly squeezed juices.
    At an Arabic meal you eat warm pitta type bread with the starters, which is replaced regularly when it cools.
    Then came two massive plates of lamb chops, and chicken which had been marinated in yogurt and spices.
    It was amazing, especially the lamb, which was also marinated in something then cooked on a griddle.
    Reima and Hussam where lovely and it was nice to put a person to the Facebook profile.
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  • Day22

    Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Zayed Mosque

    May 30, 2015 in the United Arab Emirates ⋅ ☀️ 42 °C

    After we'd seen the hotel, as I said we went to Starbucks in the local mall for a coffee.
    We then headed for the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.
    Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque was initiated by the late president of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who wanted to establish a structure which unites the cultural diversity of Islamic world, the historical and modern values of architecture and art.
    His final resting place is located on the grounds beside the same mosque.
    The mosque was constructed from 1996 to 2007.
    It is the largest mosque in the United Arab Emirates.

    That's the official bit, on a more general level, the Mosque is an amazing piece of architecture.
    As with the Emirates Palace Hotel being one of the best hotels I've seen. I've also seen quite a few mosques in my time, and seriously this is definitely one of the most beautiful.

    Although very beautiful and traditional it also has quite a modern feel to it, this may be due to the electric prayer clock, or the cooling fans discreetly hidden in the four legged pillar sections that hold the place up, or maybe it's the gold chandeliers with the quite modern multicoloured cut glass droplets dangling from the centre.
    Either way it's a very beautiful Mosque.
    One last thing I want to mention is the marble inlay work that adorns the whole place, looking closely at it, you realise it can only have been done by hand.
    You can then understand why this mosque cost over half a billion dollars to construct.

    As I've said many many, times before to the people who know me, I'm not at all religious these days, but I can appreciate the architecture of all churches etc, and this mosque is definitely among the best and most beautiful places of worship I've ever seen.
    There endeth the lesson lol.
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  • Day22

    Abu Dhabi, Emirates Palace Hotel

    May 30, 2015 in the United Arab Emirates ⋅ ☀️ 40 °C

    Yesterday Maz took us all for a drive to Abu Dhabi, the temperature was 46°c, so thank god for air conditioning in the car, which btw is a Porche Caynne, so we travelled in style.
    We passed through a town called Jebel Ali, which is 35km southwest of Dubai city.
    As well as being the 9th busiest port in the world, is a tax free industrial zone.
    In 1985, the Jebel Ali Free Zone (Jafza) was established.
    Jafza, an industrial area surrounding the port, allows the international companies who relocate there to enjoy the special privileges of the free zone.
    These include exemption from corporate tax for fifteen years, no personal income tax, no import or export duties, no restriction on currency, and easy labour recruitment.
    This came as a big surprise to me, as I thought that Dubai had no real industry and was just a tourist destination.
    Anyway the drive to Abu Dhabi took just over an hour as the road is a 4 lane highway and virtually straight as a die.
    On the way we passed the strangest office block I've ever seen, it is completely circular and looks like a giant Frisbee stood on end. It's about as thick as a Frisbee too, very strange.
    We headed to the world famous 7 star hotel The Emirates Palace, and it is just about the most beautiful hotel I've seen. We headed straight to the "Gold to Go" vending machine where you can literally buy small gold ingots from a vending machine!
    I checked out the afternoon tea menu, and a cup of tea and a piece of cake would set you back £52 each. The cake does have a small piece of real gold leaf on top, but we gave that one a swerver and went to Starbucks in the local mall instead, lol.
    But it is interesting to see how the other half live.
    The dining area where you have afternoon tea is really beautiful and sumptuous and a violinist and pianist entertain the diners, so all joking aside apart from the price it would be a wonderful place to relax and enjoy a cuppa and a slice of cake.
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  • Day20

    Sue and Maz had a meal with the Captain the other day, and during the meal, Sue told the Captain my old joke about the Somali pirates.
    The one about the safest place on the ship if the pirates get on board, being the concierge lounge, as the pirates would be first time cruisers and not have a card to get in.
    Later on that night the Captain came to the concierge lounge just for a chat with people, and Sue told him that the joke she told him was mine.
    The Captain does no more than ask if he can use it sometime.
    So obviously I say yes of course.
    Well at the end of the next days security announcement he actually used the joke, I was gob smacked, as I didn't actually think he would.
    The only thing is that only a couple of people know that the joke was mine, so it's not really fame at last... Just sort of... Lol
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  • Day18

    Salalah

    May 26, 2015 in Oman ⋅ ⛅ 33 °C

    Three people were picked up by the Omani coast guard and taken to hospital.
    Their luggage was sent with them so it looks like they are staying for a while.
    At least they will get medical treatment, I've heard that the Oman medical system is one of the best in the Middle east so hopefully they will be ok, but we'll have no way of finding out.
    All any of us can do, is hope and pray.
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  • Day17

    Will I never learn

    May 25, 2015 ⋅ ☀️ 33 °C

    Well Saturday morning started as normal having breakfast with Sheila, Sue and Maz.
    Then at 12.15pm we had our lunch with an officer, which is one of the diamond plus benefits when you reach 350+ cruise points, there where five or six tables with six or so passengers to each table, we had Ken Rush, the cruise director and a junior officer on our table.
    The meal and the company where excellent, the problem was, well I should say my problem was, the wine, it flowed very freely, and it would have been rude to refuse. Lol.
    Anyway almost immediately after the meal, a group of us went up to the concierge lounge to set up a small party for Doreen and Eric, two friends of ours who turned pinnacle on this cruise.
    And of course we all brought a bottle of wine, it would have been rude not to, lol.
    Well by the time the party finished, it was 4.30pm.
    Just enough time time to clear every thing away ready for the 5pm drinks.
    When Ike the waiter came around for the order, I ordered another glass of wine, it would have been rude not to.
    Btw, can you see a pattern appearing here? Lol.
    8.30pm and we're all booked in the Grand restaurant for dinner, and once again
    We had wine with the meal, needless to say, I don't remember going to bed.
    So for the following two days Sheila and I both abstained from alcohol, and on the first day we only left the cabin to grab some food on a couple of occasions.
    Maybe one day I'll learn, but don't hold your breath lol.
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  • Day17

    No one would help

    May 25, 2015 ⋅ ☀️ 33 °C

    Yesterday we had a medical emergency, and the ship radioed for a helicopter to take the three ill people off the ship.
    But apparently no country nearby would take them.
    So today we are heading to Salalah in southern Oman to off load the ill passengers .
    I'll keep you posted.
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  • Day14

    Operation Safe Haven

    May 22, 2015, Red Sea ⋅ ☀️ 33 °C

    Today at 10.30am we are having the "pirate drill" to get everyone ready for our transit through bandit country in two days time.
    We already have a security force of about 15 to 20 ex marines on board, they came on in Aqaba, although they will have no real security duties to do until we turn in to the Arabian sea where the possibility of pirates exists.
    Until then I suppose they are on holiday lol
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