No rush to get up to see an arrival as we had already arrived and had the customs clearance. I am still not too sure why India makes life so difficult. Our (Indian) bus driver later in the day summed things up very succinctly. “Dubai’s leaders are doing things to ensure the future of the country, India’s politicians are only looking after themselves...” Dubai is/was efficient, India is not.
Dubai for the most part is clean, modern and with some stunning modern architecture. If you think that only the old cities such as Venice, Rome or even London, has superb architecture, then you need to look at both high and low rise buildings in Dubai.
When we left the ship into the modern terminal building, there was a queue across the whole depth, with people wanting to change currency into local AED. Not a lot of point really when just about everyone takes US dollars anyway, so we didn’t bother. We had already heard of the city hop on hop off bus and happily purchased one (24 hour) day tickets for 220AED. (Sorry, I put the wrong currency abbreviation previously...) They have a manned stand in the hall. We paid by Visa card – the first time it has seen daylight for three weeks. We really didn’t do our homework properly here so for 2012 cruiser’s please take note.
What we didn’t realise was that the ticket not only includes the blue and red routes (more of that anon), but includes free bottled water from the on board fridge. (Grab them early or they won’t be too cold.) The trip also includes an on board 8 language commentary via hygienic ‘disposable’ head phones. I think we ended up with 5 sets... It also includes free admission to the excellent (so we are told) Dubai Museum and a 1 hour Dhow ride on the river.
We had already purchased Princess shuttle tickets for the standard $7 each way, but the “Big Bus Tours” double-deckers were already in the car park, ready to shuttle us to the incredible WAFI shopping centre, on the blue line route.. We didn’t get the chance to go inside, but the Egyptian theme complete with sphinx and Cleopatra’s needle was very well done. We hopped off the shuttle double-decker and straight onto the Blue Route. This is a two and a half hour circuit of the modern or outer Dubai. A real eye opener with at least two water parks we hadn’t even heard of, one on the Palms – the famous man-made island group. The second was near a beach (with no shelter) and the number of hotels and attractions still being built on the Palms is just mind boggling. Hopefully I’ll remember to post a photograph of the massive arch. The whole of the outer and modern Dubai area seems to have been developed by architects who can see beyond the boring rectangular block of concrete and glass that we seem to be lumbered with. Whereas in days of old, intricately carved granite by talented stone-masons was the order of the day, such as in most European cathedrals for example, here, the architects are the sculptors of glass and concrete on a very grand scale.
We hopped off at the Emirate’s Centre (remember, we had briefly done the Dubai Mall last night) as we wanted to see the famous indoor snow/ski centre. Although spectator viewing isn’t the best, there were hundreds of people hiring the gear and having a ball.
We just opted at this point for a bite. A French crepe with egg, turkey and ham was 22AED. Pretty good value and we paid in USD and got AED in change.
We bought nothing else other than a card. Back on the bus until we arrived back at WAFI and transferred to the red route – the inner city and old Dubai. What a city of contrasts. To see these old dhow’s piled high with all sorts of goods from sacks of ? to cardboard boxes with Hitachi electronics on the open decks, knowing they may well be heading for India across open seas was a surprise. The old shopping area was particularly notable for one aspect. It looked like down town Mumbai with hundreds of Indians seemingly doing nothing. This is where we would have hopped off had we had time. We had to wait for the ‘new dhow’ loading up from our bus – which was already 10 minutes late (also included several rather infirm oldies, who made slow progress to the dhow for their river trip) before the ‘old dhow’ could dock and release its load of passengers. By the time we got to the point where we should have transferred to the Big Bus shuttle (a 35 minute wait) the official Princess shuttle was in so we used our pre-paid tickets and used that instead as it was leaving immediately.
Paula now did her shopping for the day in the terminal building! (Julie, when you come to collect us in Auckland, we’ll have a fair bit more luggage than when we left Akl...)
A swim and a quiet dinner (honeymooning they call it) as all our table group were out, we just had a bit of a dance to the music/singing of Alan & Alana afterwards. We found out from another two couples that the flashy showy intimidating dancers had left the ship in Dubai, so we amateurs/learners were able to stumble around the small 7th floor Atrium and enjoy ourselves. Please note Auckland dancers, that I was dragged up for two New Vogue dances again, that I hadn’t even done in NZ – the Palma Waltz & the Tangoette... Alana is so good!
This cruise has a lot to answer for already, but it was evenings like this with people we had never even met before, yet were friendly and happy to practice what Alana has been trying to teach us, having a great time before crashing before the 11:30pm sailaway, that make the cruise. Once again, we just wish all our friends and relatives were along too.
We would love to do Dubai justice again at a later date. I just hope that the 2012 World Cruisers don’t suffer engine problems that have tainted the both the 2010 and now the 2011 cruises. With each of the four engines weighing in at around 150 tons and the crankshafts alone weighing 40 tons, it is not exactly like rebuilding your motorbike engine on the kitchen table or in the garden shed on a Friday night. If as many of us suspect, the damaged engine has some severe mechanical problem at the lower end, then a full repair on the move is not really on. So we continue with our reduced speed through the placid Dubai waters over night, with an expectation that it will be a less than smooth trip in 24 hours time.
Somewhere along the way, a minimum of a day (or two) lost somewhere at a major port is a probability - pure speculation of course. Whether it is Dover, FL, LA or even Sydney at the conclusion, it surely has to happen eventually. Watch this space.
Pirate drill tomorrow 10:45am. Never a dull moment.