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About Artemis

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    Austin, TX
  • Interests
    Travel, food, wine, outdoors, culture, reading
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Royal/X, Cunard
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    Wherever I'm cruising at the moment!

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  1. Hi, MadMan! Kudos on making lemonade out of your cruise cancellation! I booked the lowest level Marhaba service, as all I really wanted was to avoid the immigration line because a lot of planes arrive in the wee hours when I landed; you might want to check the DXB website to scope out early evening international arrivals--if there's no cluster of incoming flights, you may not experience a long line. You sound like an experienced traveler, so if you opt for Marhaba, I think you'll be fine with the basic service--it's nice to arrive to a sign with your name on it, but I think you'd agree with me that hand-holding through the airport isn't really what you need. DXB is new, well-signed in English, and familiar, e.g., it follows the usual transit patterns. I realize I dramatized my fast exit--that's because I never check baggage! But all in all, it's an easy airport. And yes, I did stop in the duty free (it's right there as you exit) to get some alcohol!
  2. Hi, Hillswood, just FYI, in Sir Bani Yas, you'll tender to a private beach dedicated to cruise ships. (If you're on Royal Caribbean, it's like Labadee and CocoCay). There are no independent excursion operators, and as long as your family likes beach days, you'll love it. There's a lot of detail in other threads, but the most important thing I'd suggest is water shoes or at least flip flops, as the beach is a mix of sand, little rocks and shells. Kinda rough on tender feet! Khasab is a very small place, and THE thing to do there is take a small boat cruise out into the fjords to see dolphins. You can also snorkel, but the water will be pretty chilly. You may find it most convenient to take the cruise line's excursion here, but you can certainly review all of your options under "Things to Do" in Khasab on TripAdvisor. Note that it takes 30-45 minutes for the boat to transit from the port dock to the fjord, and if the water is rough, as it was the day I went, that can be a fairly challenging ride for anyone prone to motion sickness. Some folks lost their breakfast. So considering your little ones, you might want to investigate the larger boat options. I'll let others tell you about kid-friendly things to do in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Muscat. Enjoy your trip!
  3. The Royal Caribbean setup is similar to what Skoobdo described--but no ribs, 😪and not sure about the open flame BBQ! It's a really pleasant beach break from all the big cities...pack some water shoes if you have them. The beach isn't fine sand, more of a sand with small rocks and shells. So it can be tough walking for tenderfoots!
  4. Agreed, it's not glitzy! But the room was very spacious and well-appointed, with a comfortable bed, great shower and all the amenities a traveler desires. More, the view of the creek boat traffic was priceless! And every member of the front desk staff was professional and friendly. I was a happy camper there--it's a very solid rec. Thanks, Anne.
  5. In December 2019, I took a Royal Caribbean RT cruise out of Dubai to Doha, Bahrain and Abu Dhabi (as well as Sir Baniyas, the curated-for-cruise-ships island—like Labadee or CocoCay). Here are a few tips and bits of info about what an independent traveler might want to consider in these ports. Dubai The Marhaba meet and greet service at the airport is fantastic for speeding through immigration/getting your arrival visa. I was at the taxi stand within 10 minutes of arrival—all the other pax on my plane were still standing in a very long line. https://www.marhabaservices.com/ae/english This CC forum’s expert Anne often recommends Sheraton Dubai on the Creek—I took her up on it and found it to be a nice property and well-located (it’s a 10-minute ride from the airport and a 10-minute ride to the cruise terminal.) The Dubai subway system is super clean, very efficient for getting to the most-visited places, and user-friendly. Taxis are cheap—make sure the meter’s running, and be ready with cash, as not all take credit cards (but no stress, you can get a credit card taxi for that first ride from the airport before you've hit an ATM). There’s a lot of scoop here about reservations for the Burj Khalifa and Burj Al Arab, so I’ll only add: (1) if the weather doesn’t cooperate with your Burj Khalifa reserved slot, give them a call just to see if there’s any flexibility in date/time; (2) you can do the Dubai Mall (designer stores galore) when you visit Burj Khalifa, and after, easily catch the red line subway to the Mall of the Emirates (more of a “regular” people’s mall, but featuring the ski slope), and (3) the tea at Burj Al Arab is worth every penny—it’s a seven-course affair (yes!), so the pain of the high price is relieved (a little!) by the fact it can cover both lunch and dinner. Really. Love love love this walking tour of “Old Dubai” including the souqs, an Arabian coffee stop, an abra ride on a traditional dhow boat across the creek and an amazing locals’ favorite lunch. Guide Nada grew up in Dubai and is delightful and a wealth of information. http://wanderwithnada.com/ If you’d like a desert alternative to dune bashing, this is the premier company for desert visits. I did the falconry and safari combo in a comfortable Range Rover with a sumptuous breakfast spread—it was phenomenal! https://www.platinum-heritage.com/heritage-falconry-wildlife-desert-safari/ Doha, Qatar Qatar Food Tour by Boat in the Pearl Island - booked through TripAdvisor, super fun, great guide and terrific variety of food bites, very filling! https://www.facebook.com/qatarwanderlust/ Bahrain Another wonderful food tour (I like to eat!) hitting the high spots of the old souq, the guide is a local who has spent time in the US, he’s very knowledgeable about the local culture, also highly recommended on TripAdvisor, see https://www.thisfoodtour.com/eat-drink Ahu Dhabi If you’re going to the Louvre, buy your tix online in advance. The lines are long! If you’re going to the mosque—which is amazing—I highly recommend the cultural tour (45 minutes) so you can learn all about the architecture and design elements. It’s free. Be sure to arrive 30 minutes in advance—there’s a lot of walking and security to go through before you arrive at the tour meeting point. https://www.szgmc.gov.ae/en/mosque-opening-hours If you’re going to Ferrari World, get an advance ticket with the QUICK PASS option so you can cut your wait for the world’s fastest roller coaster from 60 minutes to 5 minutes! https://www.isango.com/ I had a great time exploring this part of the world--hope you do, too!
  6. Anne, I'd like to add my thanks for your many valuable contributions about Dubai. I just returned from my first visit, including some pre- and post-cruise time in your city. I took your advice and stayed at the Sheraton Dubai on the Creek--it was the perfect property for my needs. Hope your 2020 is off to a great start!
  7. Rowse, thanks for sharing your trip! I started reading just to see how you liked the Jewel because I'll be on her next month. (Happy to read she exceeded expectations!) But I kept reading because you're such an engaging storyteller! Good work. Happy cruising!
  8. Anne, thanks a million for the helpful links. Decisions, decisions!
  9. Hi, Anne, wow, thank you for all of your contributions to this forum. What a bonus for all of us traveling to the UAE! I have one for ya. I'm making my first visit over the winter holidays (in part, via Royal Caribbean's 7-night RT out of Dubai hitting various area ports). I read about this festival--it gets rave reviews for cultural experience. But there's not a lot of detailed information to be found online. I posted the question below to the UAE forum on the usual travel research site (I haven't been on CC in a while, so don't know if I can say the name!), but no one's answered. I do have a fair price quote on a car and guide to make the trip from Abu Dhabi (and the guide outfitter also promised to research, but nothing yet). So I'm just trying to decide whether to commit! Do you happen to have any scoop? Thanks in advance for any information you know or any "very local" online resource you might suggest as possible fertile ground for details. I will be visiting for the first time in late December 2019. The best day for me to go to the Al Dhafra Festival is Sunday, December 28, 2019. The website doesn't show the program. See turathuna.ae/en/event/al-dhafra-festival Can anyone share program information for that day? Or at least offer general advice about what to expect. Is there a Mazayna every day of the festival, and if so, at what time?
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