Our room in the Hyatt was facing Port Rashid so we would be able to watch as the Amsterdam arrived in Dubai early this morning. I set my alarm for 6 am to be up in time to watch as she first came into view. At 6 am it was still dark and hazy and I couldn’t see anything. Fifteen minutes later the Amsterdam appeared out of the haze as she slowly approached the final turn to where she would moor in front of the cruise terminal. About 30 minutes later a Royal Caribbean Ship, Splendor of the Seas, appeared and followed the Amsterdam to an adjacent berth.
With the Amsterdam moored in Dubai, only a few miles away, we could breathe a little easier as we were now only a cab ride away from rejoining the ship. Whenever you go overland, there is a chance you could miss the rendezvous point or the ship could change schedules and cancel the port where you planned to reunite. Since Dubai was a major overnight port and also the end of a segment, the chances of the ship cancelling this port were very, very low.
We took it easy in our room, enjoying our $50 room service breakfast, which was very good as you would expect considering the price. In addition to our view of Port Rashid and the cruise ships we had a nice view of the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world at over 2,700 feet. Everything in Dubai is either the biggest or the best or if not, then they are probably in the process of building something bigger or better.
Once we checked out we easily found a taxi to take us back to the ship. The Dubai Cruise Terminal is a large building, that sits a mile or so behind a guarded gate. Near the gate the Queen Elizabeth 2 is moored and looked to be in pretty good condition. She has been in Port Rashid since 2009 when she was purchased by Dubai investors. There are no specific plans publicized regarding her future at the moment. At one point she was going to be turned into a luxury hotel like the Queen Mary in Long Beach and at another point she was going to be sold for scrap. Later that evening we would see her displaying “friendship lights” from the bow to the stern, so someone is still looking after her.
As we approached the gate, neither us nor the driver knew exactly what would be required for us to pass. Once we showed our cruise cards and said the magic word “Amsterdam”, the guard raised the gate and waved us thru. Now that we were past the gate, we still had to find the correct spot for us to enter the terminal which was easy to see, but not obvious as to which of the many roads leading to various wharves, piers and loading areas would get us to the right spot. After driving down a few dead ends, we finally discovered the correct road by process of elimination. We would remember for future reference to follow the signs to Cruise Terminal 3.
The cruise terminal was large and modern, and based on the number of people sitting in the terminal staring at their phones, it also had free Wi-Fi. We went thru a metal detector and our bags were X-rayed. There wasn’t any immigration there, all we needed to show was our cruise card to get past security.
The short gangway was on A deck and level with the quay which made it easy to get aboard with our bags. We were cheerfully welcomed “home” by security and it was good to be back in familiar surroundings. Our first stop was the front desk to turn in our passports and make sure there weren’t any immigration issues we would need to deal with since we didn’t arrive with the ship, but would be departing with her the next day. The Front Desk staff reviewed our passports looking for the UAE entry stamp we received when we arrived in Dubai last night. Once they confirmed we had the correct stamp we were on our way back to our cabin.
Our cabin stewards had laid out the daily on location guides along with some of the other announcements and flyers we missed over the last 5 days. There was also a new Grand Voyage Gift – a very nice travel wallet that will come in handy to keep all of our credit cards and other important items in one spot. It is a little too big to use as an actual wallet, as it is closer to being a small portfolio than a wallet.
One of the great things about this Grand World Voyage has been the evening entertainment. The variety and quality of the shows has been first rate from the beginning and we scanned the On Location guides to see what we had missed. We learned later that a group called “The Fly Rights” was outstanding and some in our group said they may have been the best show of the cruise. We also missed the second HAL Dancers and Singers production show, but since this was our last overnight we will be sure to be in attendance for their remaining shows.
After we unpacked, we headed back out to the terminal to sign up for the HoHo bus tour. Dubai has two HoHo operators, City Sightseeing, which is in many ports around the world, and an outfit we never heard of Big Bus. We decided to go with the Big Bus since their busses included free Wi-Fi as part of the deal.
Since it was now almost 4:30 we decided to check out the Dubai Mall, take in the fountain show and be back on the ship in time for dinner at 8pm.
The Dubai mall in huge, 3 levels of shops with every conceivable brand and shop represented. There is a large multistory aquarium and a huge waterfall with full size metal sculptures of divers appearing to dive from the top of the falls to the water below. We don’t find large shopping malls particularly interesting as there wasn’t much that is really new to us, but the sheer size of the mall and the stores is impressive. The mall had a similar feel to the Hotel/Shop complexes in Las Vegas, except this was bigger and there aren’t any casinos.
We walked out to the large manmade lake where the fountain show was already in progress. The show was designed by the same company that did the fountain show at the Bellagio in Las Vegas and the similarity was obvious. It was worth watching, but if you have already seen the show at the Bellagio, you could skip this show and not miss anything really new.
On the way back to the ship we saw a large Tim Horton shop (Canada’s famous coffee chain) sharing the same store front with a large Starbucks. I don’t think I have ever seen these two stores side by side before.
By 7:45 we were back on the ship just in time for dinner at 8pm. The dining room was decorated for Easter, with colorful balloons and Easter eggs everywhere. On the menu was a 24 ounce Porterhouse steak which I think is the same one they have down in the Pinnacle. We suspect they may have more than they needed down in the Pinnacle and want to use them up before the end of the cruise.
There was only one show tonight, a demonstration of Dubai Traditional Music and Dance. The show consisted of a belly dancer, a Whirling Dervish and other Lebanese performers. Each of the acts performed twice, but once probably would have been enough as the acts got a little repetitive. Nevertheless it is always interesting to get exposed to different types of entertainment and sometimes you find something new and interesting that you might never have seen in other circumstances.This entry was posted in Uncategorized