DUBAI, OMAN, CHEFS TABLE, EGYPT, JORDAN & ANZAC DAY. 14th April – 25th April 2018

DUBAI,UAE. Saturday 14th April 2018.

Sad day today as our friends Karen, Stuart, Robyn and Paul disembarked, after enjoying their company for 7 weeks they will be greatly missed.

We had had a wonderful tour last year of Dubai and as we weren’t having a huge amount of time here this year decided to keep it simple and took the free shuttle to the Dubai mall and spent our day there.

It is of course a tourist destination in itself with not only shops but an aquarium, fountain, hotel and access to the observation deck in the Burj Khalifa.

We were quite happy not to be out braving the heat and enjoyed the good but expensive coffee we had and a chance to get some wifi and catch up on news from home.

It was a pleasant evening for sail away and we got to meet our new table companions.

MUSCAT, OMAN. Sunday 15th April 2018.

Having a late arrival here at 2pm till 8 pm allowed everyone to do their normal morning activities before having midday lunch and getting ready for the afternoon ashore.

We had gone to the shore excursion talk to get an idea of what you could do independently or if a ships tour would be the way to go.

We decided to go off on our own and explore.

Muscat was fabulous we absolutely loved it.

You really felt you were in the Middle East but as Oman is known as one of the safest countries in the world we enjoyed the friendly people, the cleanliness, and the interesting architecture and souks.

We took a long walk to the grand palace enjoying the beautiful waterfront and sights along the way.

We ended up getting a small amount of money then to get a taxi back and get a few cold drinks as well as a few extra to bring on board.

By the time we arrived back to the area closer to the ships port, the souks in Muttrah had fully opened and it was wonderful wandering through with the locals also shopping there. This is a contrast to the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul where the locals no longer shop there like they used to.

This is of course a Muslim country so the dress is from slightly modest to the full dress where eyes only shown. But the friendly smiles and Hello and welcome we received was lovely.

There are lots of lovely things to buy if you’re here for shopping as has been the case for most of the stops and it looks like quite a few have done just that.

Rose the lovely English Indian lady who helped me with my sari on the Bollywood night is now up to 9 cases!!

Some of the ship went on dowel cruises which gave them a lovely view from the water of the rugged coastline. The water looked gorgeous and with the mountains behind the whitewash buildings of the town made for great photos.

Having no expectations we were thrilled to have enjoyed this lovely port of call as much as we did.

CHEFS TABLE, Tuesday 17th April 2018.

With a six day stretch of sea days we decided to treat ourselves with the degustation dinner with wines otherwise known as the chefs table.

We met our table companions at 6:30 pm in the library and were all given a glass of sparkling and a canapé with a run down of the evening before we all went for a tour of The galley.

As it was dinner time they were working in the galley and we got to see it in full production. A great experience for us all.

Taking the escalator back up to the dining room and our little alcove area especially designated for the Chefs table dining nights the full experience began.

More champagne, several different whites, a red and dessert wine all accompanied the nine courses plus petit fours with coffee/ tea to finish.

The courses were magnificent and much more than the bite size tastes we were expecting.

The company was great and a memorable evening was had by all.

SAFAGA, EGYPT. Sunday 22nd April 2018.

Our first port of call after 6 sea days where the day before on the 21st we celebrated Queen Elizabeth’s birthday with games on deck and buffet lunch outside as well.

We had booked to go to Luxor, The Karnak temple and the valley of The kings.

It entailed a very early start, on the bus by 5:15am and a long drive to Luxor.

Along the way the first few hours was mostly desert but once we started getting closer to Luxor we passed more townships which would have been great to stop to get some great real life photos.

There were plenty of checkpoints to go through and I don’t think I’ve had my bag scanned as many times ever as we did today.

There were some incredible scenes of everyday life and some really strange ones where police or military are carrying huge guns but they’re smiling and waving at you.

The security measures were pretty significant and they certainly have plenty of people in each of the security points we passed through.

The kids in particular were smiling and waving madly whether they were riding on the back of a donkey drawn trailer, motor bike or just walking down the street.

Our first big stop was at Karnak temple, just incredible, couldn’t stay as long as you really need to to do it justice but we will look at our photos and remember the spectacular remains of this place forever.

It was added onto over a period of 700 years staring 1900 bc with each Pharaoh wanting to leave his stamp.

To have seen it when it was standing complete and without destruction must have been an overwhelming sight as it’s still awesome now.

A buffet lunch at a lovely hotel overlooking the Nile was next and we enjoyed going and watching the Nile with the dry arid mountains in the background and the lush vegetation on the river banks as sailing ships passed by.

It was hard to believe we were actually in Egypt it felt surreal.

Of course everyone on the 9-10 coaches we had going on this trip were all looking forward to the valley of the kings and it didn’t disappoint.

We actually went into Tut Anhk Amuns tomb and though we weren’t allowed to take photos we saw his mummified body and sarcophagus .

Some of the tombs were just beautiful with their rich colours and amazing paintings and hieroglyphics.

We visited the tombs of Rameses the 4th and 9th and the tomb and sarcophagus of Siptah.

What a once in a lifetime experience we had and as we drove back to the ship we enjoyed the street scenes once again while also having a few sleeps.

Two weeks till we disembark!!

AQABA, JORDAN. Monday 23rd April 2018.

Last night we had to put our clocks forward not backwards which meant two big days in a row for those undertaking Petra today. Luckily we were lucky to have enjoyed the magic of Petra last year from The Sea Princess.

The ship had organised a shuttle into Aqaba town so we hopped on and visited the information centre along with a few others.

We partnered up with Belinda and Patrick ( a husband and wife team of intrepid travellers who make our own travels so far look pretty lame) and grabbed a taxi to South beach to have a snorkel in the Red Sea.

The wind was a bit high and the sea a bit cooler than expected which kept the boys on land but Belinda and I had a nice little snorkel before we headed for to a hotel for Jordanian coffee, reminiscent of a Turkish brew.

They had brilliant wifi so we all took the chance to catch up news from home and post a few photos before we headed back to town centre for a wander and an amazing local lunch of all things delicious, hummus, lamb, falafel, tabouleh, pita bread, pickled vegetables, and some other dishes and I enjoyed a glass of lemon, mint juice.

From there we walked to the Kepinski hotel the poshest hotel around and after they took a copy of our passports and informed us we weren’t allowed to use the beach we did exactly that…. the boys ordered one beer each and we spent the afternoon under a brolly on sunloungers relaxing, swimming in their private beach as we enjoyed their beach towels, free water bottles that they bought around and ice cold watermelon on sticks and nuts. Before we sat in their hot spa tub and infinity pool before we were then asked to leave. Oh well we were just going anyway.

After another walk around the town we caught the shuttle back to ship in time to shower and change ready for our 8pm dinner sitting.

Three days at sea including the transit of The Suez Canal and I believe they maybe putting on a dawn service that morning which will be the 25 th for our ANZAC day.

The temperatures have started to drop into the 20s now and we know the lounging by the pool days are probably coming to an end soon. Well it’s been great while it’s lasted and the seas have been so calm from Sydney we could be on a lake.

we did indeed have an ANZAC day service. It was very well organised and MC’d by the ships entertainment director Tony.

Australians and New Zealand filled the theatre early morning and some were given leading roles in a very dignified and emotional service, ending with wreaths placed in the pool on deck.

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