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About russg140

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    Cool Cruiser

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    Upstate NY
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    Food/cooking, wine, dogs, gardening
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  1. Tutuma Definitely read through this thread. It might answer some of your questions. I've also posted 3 short videos from the trip. If you have any other questions let me know. It was amazing! Russ
  2. Here is the final installment. This video also includes a short section at the end of our 2 night stay in Dubai. Enjoy!
  3. So here is the second of three installments from our Holy Land and Arabian Gem cruise. Please like my YouTube channel so I know someone is watching! LOL! Thanks!
  4. SLSD If you go to YouTube search by R Gibson See if that works.
  5. Here is the link to the first part of my video series from this cruise. Don't forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel to be up to date on the remaining videos. Thanks!
  6. OP here Got that letter too and not at all surprised based on the last email we got back in September. We were booked on a February 2019 trip and wanted to cancel, but were told that we would forfeit our deposit. Called mid-October to find out if they would take another payment, which they would have had I not proceeded with the call. Personally I think they knew the ship wasn't going to be ready even then, but were still willing to take my money. I even got a payment request 2 days ago, which I ignored. Now the question is: Do I call and ask when I can expect a refund? I think I'll wait until tomorrow. I'm sure they are being bombarded with call and don't want to be on hold for hours.
  7. We used Oman Day Tours and our guide was Ali. He was a bit hard to understand but very enthusiastic and thorough.
  8. Greetings from Dubai! Yesterday was an awesome day on Sir Bani Yas Island. After breakfast we had a little time to hang out by the pool before taking the tender to shore at 11:15. Essentially the beach was set up for use by cruise ships and has several seas with chaises, palapas and tables as well as a large shaded area for lunch. Sitting in the water we heard a siren that got progressively louder. A few minutes later we realized it was coming from an inflatable headed for the shore. Of course this was announcing the arrival of the champagne and caviar! Only Seabourn could make something like this exciting. Not long after the corks were popping and people were wading into the water to have a little nibble. SO much fun! The beach barbecue was fantastic as well. Proper china, silverware and napkins accompanied everything from burgers to grilled lobster. Of course there were a couple of bars set up and everyone was enjoying their beverage of choice. The sun was really strong, but as long as you stayed in the shade (like we did) you were okay. The last thing we needed was to get sunburnt on our last day. We headed back to the ship to begin the disappointing task of packing. We enjoyed a final evening in the Observation Lounge and a wonderful dinner in the Restaurant. This morning we were up and finished with breakfast by 8:15. The disembarkation announcement was made at 8:45. We said goodbye to Encore and are now lounging on the beach at the Waldorf Astoria Palm Jumeira. So kind readers ends my Seabourn journey. I hope I was able to convey at least a small part of how exceptional this trip was at every level. As I mentioned before I will post the link to my YouTube video here once it is finished. Thanks for coming on this adventure with me. Happy Sailing!
  9. SP Our tour was booked by our TA, but I believe the tour company was Gulf Adventures. Our guide’s name was Yasin. He was excellent!
  10. Amazing Abu Dhabi. After our serene day at sea we were excited to visit Abu Dhabi, having heard so much about it. Our TA offered us a 4-hour tour, which we gladly accepted. Our driver and guide were right outside the terminal and off we went. Our first stop was the Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque. On the ride there ourguide, told us about the history of modern Abu Dhabi and the importance of Sheik Zayed to the USE and initiating change in AD. He spoke with a true reverence. We came upon the Grand Mosque in the near distance and it was breathtaking; gleaming white in the morning sun. The beauty of the architecture and the detail of the design and craftsmanship is mind boggling. Not to wax poetic but words can’t begin to do the GM justice. IMPORTANT NOTE: The UAE takes the dress code in the Mosque very seriously. Very. Men need to wear long pants and long sleeves, women must be fully covered, including your head. They do sell coverups outside the Mosque, but I understand they were very pricey. So when you pack make sure to bring a scarf or plan on buying one in Oman. Our next stop was the Royal Abu Dhabi Hotel. With average room rates at $3000US/night (the Grand Suites sell for $30,000US/night (no, that’s not a typo). Let’s just say this place exudes wealth. Friends went for afternoon tea and spent $30US for 2 cappuccinos (one with gold flake on top - seriously!). Oh, that price didn’t include the service charge or tax! The hotel is owned by the Royal Family, so it’s not like they need the money. Our third stop was the AD “Heritage Village”, a recreation of an historic Bedouin village from AD’s past that quite honestly this was a bit disappointing; shops selling local wares wasn’t what we were after. People were buying things, so if that’s your thing you might enjoy it. Fourth on our tour was a drive through the “wealthy” (haha!) part of AD on our way to a desolate area that is being developed as part of the Aby Dhabi 2030 master plan. The neighborhood we drove through included the Royal Palace (well, one of them at least). Suffice it to say AD has money. Prior to being dropped off at the Louvre Abu Dhabi we stopped at the date market and sampled numerous types of dates (there were over 30 available) and were offered a traditional coffee brewed with saffron, turmeric and cardamom. Interesting, but nothing I would want to bring back. However we did buy a 1/2 kilo (1 lb) each of salted cashews and pistachios as well as chocolate covered dates. As I just mentioned we asked to be dropped off at the Louvre AD. The onboard speaker, Alessandra, held a talk on LAD and got us very excited to see it. The structure itself is fascinating. We opted to purchase the multimedia tour ($25US p.p., including admission). You have several tour options from the whole collection to a 20 minute quick walkthrough. We opted for the 60-minute overview, which was perfect for the amount of time we had. Basically you go through each of the 12 “Chapters” (which is how the collection is arranged) and 2 pieces are discussed. Truly we barely scratched the surface. We hopped into a taxi and got back to the ship. We missed lunch, so ordered room service. At 6:00, the time we were scheduled to leave, they held a Seabourn Signature event: Deck Party with the ship’s officers and a farewell from the crew. Plenty of nibbles available, cocktails and live music from the SB band. Then came the farewell; always a sad moment in every cruise, but a great chance to cheer for all the wonderful people who made this voyage so spectacular. After another delicious dinner in The Restaurant we enjoyed the final production show “It Takes Two” featuring the SB singers and dancers. Great music and a lot of fun. Today we’re in Sir Bani Yas (sp?) island, where SB is holding 2 Signature Events: Caviar in the Surf and Beach Barbecue. I’ll recap those tomorrow, after we’ve disembarked 😔.
  11. Hmmm. I know SB offers (paid) excursions to Jerusalem. Tel Aviv I’m not sure about. Haifa is a good distance to both. Ashdod a little less so. There were certainly plenty of taxis in every port who you can hire to take you there. Hope that helps. Russ
  12. FDNY Abu Dhabi was amazing, and we were lucky that, after our private tour, we are able to spend a couple of hours in the museum. Others were only able to drive by. The itinerary has beyond exceeded our expectations. See notes about our experience below. Russ p.s. Did you work for the FDNY? We live in Hudson, which is the home to the FASNY Museum and Retirement community.
  13. SLSD LOL! i would agree with the “trough” analogy on every other cruise we’ve taken except this one. I’ve yet to see some plate piled high to overflowing and plates with half the food still on it. Since everything is so well prepared I think there is greater reluctance on guests part to waste it. Russ
  14. Julie In both Aqaba and Salalah the distance was fairly substantial. Additionally, the access to the port is very restricted so you wouldn’t be able to just walk in and out. In Aqaba we had to take a shuttle bus to the visitors center about 15 minutes away. In Salalah another driver, who was aware of the situation, drove us to meet out driver. Coming back, in Aqaba we hitched a ride with a (rather surprised looking) bus of German tourists to get back in the port. In Salalah our driver had a flashing light that somehow gave him access. I’ll be posting our (fantastic) visit notes from Abu Dhabi today. Let me know if you have any other questions.
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