Friday, September 25, 2009

Tuesday 22nd – Friday 25th September

Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, all sea days much the same as any other sea day. I know that sounds boring but there is always something different to try. The GD and I checked out the gym – for real, yesterday – and it’s free. We both tried out the walking machines. The GD burned off 100 calories and I burned off 60. With the air-conditioning it’s much cooler than walking on the promenade deck. You’re also looking out to sea at the aft end of the ship. We’ll give it another go today and most likely each day till we return to OZ. We also went to a photography lecture.

Friday: We have arrived in Bombay this morning and as we suspected, we are not allowed ashore because we don’t have a visa, thanks to incorrect advise given to us by a representative of Princess line before we left home. Actually, quite a few of their staff could do with a lot more training before being let loose on the public. That said, most of them are very obliging and courteous. The better staff are exceptionally good at what they do. Most of what we can see of Bombay, looks tired and polluted. The water in the harbour is full of floating rubbish. From on board lectures I’m sure there is some places of interest here but I think most people going ashore are doing so to shop and India obviously doesn’t want our tourist dollar. Though we didn’t have to go through any of the immigration processes to go ashore, we did observe the most stringent processes and paper trails that has been the case in any other port, including USA or Egypt. Well back to the laundry – no queues today to use the washing machines. We will also be under house arrest (I suppose you could call it that) for the next 2 ports in India so the next port the GD and I will be getting off at is Phuket on the 2nd October

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Monday 21st September
We berthed about 7.30am in Dubai. As the passengers were allowed ashore, there was an Arabian dressed brass band and also a red carpet laid out to walk along. The terminal that we landed at is not quite finished so there were only a couple of stalls trading, inside. The GD and I took a shuttle bus in the city in the morning. We were disappointed when it took us the ‘the biggest shopping mall’ in the world with all designer labels and excessive prices and we had thought we were going to a market. Even though it was a relief from the 40 degree heat, we didn’t stay there long. Back to the ship for lunch and a short nap. I decided to take a tour in the afternoon and left the GD sleeping. Apart from having to put up with the heat, the tour was great. The tour took in the beach – all men except for tourists of both sexes, A view of the hotel which looks like a ship, past the zoo, past the artificial ski run, to a mosque (outside only), then to an interesting museum in an old fort. After that, we had to take the local open wooden boats, like dugouts along and across the creek to the Gold Market. There are no rules on the water with each boat jostling for position. It was rather fun. I didn’t find any gold bargains and I thought most of it was rather grouse. It’s the end of Ramadan and a holiday, so everywhere was crowded – yes – mostly with men, Indians, Philipinos, Arabs and various other nationalities. As for religions in this part of the world, most of them are practiced here except for Jewish. They are not even allowed to enter the country. It’s a very modern city and even the bus stops are air-conditioned. It’s very clean and no sign of graffiti anywhere but even though smoking is said to be prohibited in public, the beach was littered with butts. Those darn seagulls! I arrived back to the ship after the start of dinner. I showered, put on my nice shirt I had bought (and a skirt) and joined the GD for desert. We turned in fairly early after a show. We will now be at sea until we arrive in Mumbai early on Friday the 25th September, that’s unless there is a change of plans because of the student protests going on there at the moment. We may not be allowed on shore anyway has be don’t have a visa for India.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Wednesday 16th – Sunday 20th September
Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday we spent at sea and quite uneventful except for the usual on board activities and shows. A couple of the shows were quite good but we haven’t been going to all of them. During this time, we have decided to disembark in Darwin on the 10th of October and spend a few days there before flying home. This gets us home a couple of days earlier as well. From Darwin to Sydney there are no stops so we won’t be missing anything except the crowds at Sydney airport, which is a plus. It will also give us a chance to sort out what to post home, which will be cheaper than paying excess again, as we had to on our flight from Brisbane to Sydney in the beginning of the cruise.
Today we are in Mina Qaboos Oman until about 1.30pm. It’s something of a surprise and quite different to anywhere else we have been. The landscape is rocky, mountainous and barren. The town is clean, white and has lots of fountains and green grass, which is quite a contrast with the surroundings. We have spent a couple of hours in the Souk (market) this morning and the GD has outfitted himself as one of the locals. It has been one of the better markets, which we have visited – big enough to have a good browse but not big enough to get totally lost in even though it’s like a rabbit warren. The locals are about as strict Muslim as it gets so we had to try to get close to the dress code to go ashore (though some passengers were a bit slack) or run the risk of having to return quickly to the ship. The locals all shop at this souk and there was no hard sell like some of the other markets we’ve been to. We felt quite safe with no fear of pickpockets. Very few cruise ships visit as it is a major commercial / industrial shipping port. We weren’t even allowed to wander on the port but had to be shuttled at least to the gates of the port. Tomorrow it’s a full day in Dubai, 9am to 10 pm. It could also be the end of Ramadan depending of the first spark of the crescent moon, when they get into celebrations and feasting. This could mean many shops are shut but I’m sure they will be out for our dollars one way or another. We are about to set of so I will try and get a few departing shots on the camera. Bye for now.