We spent the morning unpacking and getting everything organized in our cabin after our trip to India and didn’t leave the ship until after 2pm. Our plan was to ride two loops of the Dubai Big Bus which would take 4 -5 hours.
We arrived at the Dubai Mall and only had to wait about 10 minutes until the next Big Bus would leave on the Red Route or City Tour. We sat in the upper deck and were able to get the seats in the first row which gave us great views as we drove around the city. Dubai is very modern and very new. It’s hard to grasp the size of all the various buildings when the tallest building is over twice the height of the Empire State Building, it makes the 18 other buildings over 1,000 feet tall seem small by comparison.
The Big Bus City tour takes you on a big loop between the Dubai Mall and Dubai Creek driving by many of the older parts of the city. Dubai Creek is a saltwater creek that separates Dubai into two towns – Deira to the north and Bur Dubai to the south. The Creek is too small for bigger ships but OK for Dhows. There are various Dhow tours available that go up and down Dubai Creek that will give you a different perspective of the city. The Dhow Wharfage is also here and is home to dozens of Dhows, some over 100 years old, that are still actively involved in trade between other Gulf countries, some as far away as Somalia.
The famous Raffles hotel of Singapore has opened a hotel in Dubai that looks like a pyramid. I wonder if you can get a Singapore Sling here or did they invent another drink for Dubai.
We passed by the Dubai Museum, housed in the old Al Fahidi Fort. Other highlights included seeing an old Watchtower and the Gold Souk which is Dubai’s best known Souk and home to hundreds of jewelry shops. On our way back to the Dubai Mall we passed by the Emirates Classic Car Festival, an annual event that showcases classic cars from all over the world.
Since it is usually very hot in Dubai, the city has built air conditioned bus stops for people to use to stay cool when waiting for the buses.
Dubai has plenty of malls, in addition to the Dubai Mall, there is Diera City Centre, one of the City’s older malls built in 1995, and the Mall of the Emirates, best known for being home to Ski Dubai where you can ski on 4 indoor courses, with the longest being about ¼ mile long. Lift tickets are sold for either 2 hours or all day and range from $85 to $140 which includes skis, boots and jump suits – but not gloves which must be purchased at an additional cost. If you are interested in Skiing Dubai, you can save some money by throwing a pair of gloves in your luggage before you leave home.
After the city tour we ended up back at the Dubai Mall where we switched over to the Big Bus Beach tour on the green line.
The Green line runs along Jumeirah Beach after passing the Jumeirah Mosque which is probably the most photographed mosque in Dubai. It offers tours to non-Muslims daily except Fridays at 10 am. This mosque is an exact copy of Cairos Al Axzhar Mosque only 1/8 the size. It’s surprising that Dubai didn’t build it bigger than the one in Cairo as Dubai normally has to have everything bigger and better than everything else.
As we headed toward the large manmade peninsula called Palm Island, we passed by the Burj Al Arab – which is advertised as having 7 stars and is one of the world’s tallest hotels at 1053 feet. No one is really sure what it takes to be a 7 star hotel as it’s left to the imagination of the property’s marketing department.
It was now dark as we headed out on the trunk of Palm Island toward the large resort hotel called Atlantis which features the popular water park called Aquventure.
After we left the Atlantis Hotel we turned right to loop around the crescent section of Palm Island. It was now 7:45 and we were supposed to be back at the Dubai Mall at 8:20 with an all aboard of 9:30. It is about a 20-30 minute taxi ride from the Dubai Mall so we weren’t worried about getting back on time. After we went down the outer leaf for a couple miles we turned around and headed back to the Atlantis and then back to the city down the trunk of Palm Island. Little did we realize but there was construction blocking off one of the two lanes on the crescent. We were inching along at maybe 2-5 mph and it took us 30 minutes to get back to the Atlantis Hotel where we were finally able to get back up to the speed limit. After this delay we probably wouldn’t get back to the Dubai Mall until 8:45 pm and then we would have to get a cab. We chose to get off the Big Bus at the next stop, the Mall of the Emirates, and grabbed a cab there. There was a short taxi line with most of the people waiting pushing shopping carts after they had finished grocery shopping and then were taking taxis home.
Once we hopped in the cab we learned that the driver spoke very little English and had no idea where the cruise terminal was. Fortunately I had my card from the ship with helpful phrases and the first line was ‘Please take me to Port Rashid Cruise terminal’. Port Rashid was the magic word and he knew exactly where to go and we were at the port security gate in about 20 minutes and in front of the Cruise terminal about 10 minutes after 9 pm – 20 minutes to spare.
We spent the last of our Dirhams at a gift shop in the terminal and then headed back to the ship at 9:25.
The Lido didn’t open until 10:30 so we ordered the Penne Pasta with Shrimp and the Salmon from Room service. The meals arrived in about 30 minutes and were very, very good. Room service on the Amsterdam continues to be exceptional.
Tomorrow will be a sea day and we will be taking it easy.
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