Blog #13 April 17th
Final blog today, is our third day at sea heading toward Dubai, in the Arab Emirates, sailing on the Arabian Sea. I thought today I would tell you what happens aboard the Queen Elizabeth in a typical afternoon. We usually have our midday meal in the Britannia Restaurant or on 9 deck at the rear of the ship either in the buffet line or outside at the hamburger/hotdog stand. At high noon the captain speaks to us over the public address system and the entire ship’s company with how far we have sailed from our last port or the past 24 hours.
Today, April 16th, he tells us that we have sailed since leaving Southampton a distance of 27,420 miles. At 12:30 p until 1:15 we have live Caribbean music on the back open deck as long as there is good weather. Today the temperature is 79 degrees, with the ocean water just one degree warmer. At noon the casino opens with low limits. At 12:15 begins the ballroom dance class for all ages and at 1:00p watercolor art class. At 2:00 there is a duplicate bridge class, also taking place at 2:00p is a classical concert as well as the showing of a movie, today it is “Suffragette“. With each passing hour there is at least 5 to 7 items we can participate in. Then at 3:30p is afternoon tea served in the Queens room for one hour.
Each and every day the events are different. As far as fitness, there is swimming in one of two pools or a walk around on deck 3, four times for a mile, or you could visit the royal fitness center up on deck 11. While at sea the days pass quickly and there never seems to be enough time to do all the things you would like to do, but there is always tomorrow.
April 17th. Today is the date we reach the port of Dubai in the Arab Emirates. We have made plans to take the Hop on Hop off double decker tour bus. We have a good breakfast and are on the pier just a couple minutes after 9:00am. We are one of the first people to board the bus and we decide to take the blue route first and when finished we will then take the red route thus we will see the entire city of Dubai. The weather is all blue skies and the day promises to be in the mid 70’s. We enjoy the entire day on the tour bus and when we purchased our ticket we also were given a free ticket to ride a large wooden dhow on the creek that flows through the city for 45 minutes. After our busy day we return to the ship. We really are tired after this full day tour.
At 11:30p the ship let go of the ropes and the ship heads back out to sea. We never see the ship leave port, because, you guessed it, we went to bed at 10:30pm. April 18th, we are at sea for one day before we reach our next port city of Muscat. April 19th, just before 8:00a, we arrive at the port entrance for Muscat, Oman. By 9:00a the ship has been cleared for all passengers to go ashore. We have a tour today but not until 12:30 pm. So we get on one of the early shuttle buses and head for the city center and a very large enclosed Souk. While at the Souk I purchase a pair of leather sandals. We arrive back at the pier just a few minutes before 11:00am. Oh yes, the temperature is 94 degrees! On our afternoon tour we board the coach and meet our local guide Joseph who is dressed in native custom garb. As we set out to start our 4 hour tour he gives us many details about this country. Present numbers are a follows, just over 4 million people with the capital being Muscat, while the country includes 6 provinces.
Over the years trade between east and west has flourished, while the country was ruled by various indigenous tribes as well as foreign powers such as the Portuguese empire and the Ottoman Empire at various points in its history. Today the country is growing at a fast rate while the present Sultan has been in power since the mid 1970’s Muscat has experience rapid expansion with forward thinking. We drive several miles into the interior of the country and new construction is evident as far as the eye can see. With good roads many automobiles and businesses of every description. One of the highlights of this tour is the stop at the Royal Palace for High Tea. Words alone cannot do justice to this Palace. We are told the Sultan is in, but we don’t see him on our tour. Shortly after 4:00p, we return to the pier and to the Queen Elizabeth. Today was a very interesting tour.
Shortly after 5:30pm. We head South on the Arabian Sea and on our way to our next port of call. For the second time in the last week the ship is visited by the British Navy, a new looking destroyer that also carries a Helicopter. They have done exercises during their approaches to our ship and fly-by’s from the helicopter as we are now heading into the pirate waters of the Arabian sea. Tomorrow we have a drill for pirate training, if we ever are attacked. The truth is, no ship has been attacked in the last 3 years, so the majority of the passengers think this is just a waste of time, and we agree. Then on April 22nd we visit Salalah, Oman, and then head into the Red Sea. We sail into Salalah, Oman early morning again the temp is near 90 degrees at 8:00am. There will not be a free shuttle today, so travel to the small city is 8 miles away. So the ship will transport all passengers from the ship to the port gates, then we have to hire a cab to take us into the city or to take a tour other than from the ships tour. We decide not to go ashore today. When some guests return to the ship they tell the story that the cabs were charging $80.00 to go into the city and then to return to the ship they were chagrin $150.00 each. “Wow” many people just take the shuttle back to the ship and spend the day resting on the deck. At 5:30p, we set sail for our next port at the top end of the Red Sea and the city of Aqaba, Jordan. To get there in 4 days, we have to travel at a speed of 23.7 knots, believe me that is really pushing it! You could water ski behind the ship at that speed. I think everyone has heard about the Red Sea just south of the Egypt and connecting to the Suez canal at the southern end. But here is some further information on this body of water. The Red sea is one of the most saline bodies of water in the world due to the effects of the water circulation pattern. It is roughly 1215 miles long and at it widest point & is 199 miles wide. It has a maximum depth of 7254 feet. On the west side it borders the coastlines of Sudan and Egypt, and on the east side it borders Jeddah and Mekkah, and it is not red in color!
April 27th, today we entered the Suez Canal at 6a in the morning heading north and after a full day being In the canal we entered the Mediterranean Sea just after 5:00 and now on our way to Istanbul, Turkey. I have taken video as we passed through the canal for you folks back home to see when we return home next month. We received an email notice from the Ensemble Home office in NYC stating that our scheduled Ensemble tour of Istanbul has been cancelled due to continued unrest in that city. Instead we will visit Athens Greece for our third shore excursions.
This is the last of my blogs!!!! As you most likely know my laptop shut down just before I had a chance to send this Blog #13. We have now returned home and arrived safely on May17th while I was able to restore my laptop to full function again.