March 2008 Destination:
Middle East Embarkation:
Dubai. This is not a city you can walk around. It is very spread out, take it from us we are walkers and can go gr8 distances but things you see in the distance in this city never seem to get closer as you walk towards them :-) Cabs are cheap though and the people here are very friendly. Everyone speaks English and the cab drivers don't give you the long route, they take you where you want to go and rather quickly... alright , very quickly , it was a little frightening at times. Also keep this in mind when you are out walking, it seems that pedestrians do not have the right of way here. Follow the signs, cross when you're supposed to and keep an eye out for fast moving traffic. We stayed at a clean inexpensive hotel near the port where we were boarding the Costa Romantica for a 7 day cruise from Dubai to Muscat Oman, Fujeirah, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain and return to dubai. We found the hotel through Otel.com, we find this to be the most inexpensive way to find affordable hotels. We have used More
them several times now and you even get more of a discount the more you book through them . Our hotel was the Richmond Hotel and Apartments. This was one of many options in many price ranges from Otel.com. We chose this one for the price and it had a pool on the roof although it was a little cool. The room was clean and about a 3 star. The staff was very friendly, all spoke English and were very helpful. They even let us have late check out for a small fee as our cruise didn't board until night time. It was nice to spend the day out and about and still be able to come back and pack and shower before we boarded. This hotel was in the Bur Dubai area. There is the Sheak Sayid Road ( please excuse spelling ) area, where all the tallest buildings are. There area lot of hotels there too. The Jumeira Beach area with a lot of hotels on the beach. I'm assuming these would be the most expensive. And the Deira area, this is the old part of Dubai where the creek is. If you're going to cross the creek in a Dow ( again sp ) I suggest you do it on a guided tour. This is a crazy busy part of town. Personally I wouldn't stay in that part but I wouldn't miss seeing it, its very exciting. There are huge malls in Dubai as well as markets. Quite a diverse mixture of old and new. There is even a mall with an indoor ski hill! You can swim at many open beaches ( public ) as they call them. Jumeirah Beach is quite huge. We were on 3 different parts of it. The end closest to the port. The Jumeriah park area and then you can also swim right next to the famous Burj Al Arab hotel and Jumeirah Beach Hotel. Then next to those hotels are more hotels and a gr8 mall outdoor cafe/ restaurants all situated on a lagoon with canals. Its quite beautiful at night. In the future there will be many more rivers , canals, lagoon and man made islands... man made everything in fact. If you can dream it they will build it and they are. Its a city springing up from the desert right before your very eyes. Ok now the cruise! Loved Costa! Suzanne our English hostess greeted us very warmly in the terminal and told us where to go on the ship for food while our room was being prepared...as we were a little early still. But they let you on none the less and even let us stay on at the end as our flight wasn't until late. We didn't disembark until 10pm. They practically had to pry us out of Luigi, Petra and Suzannes' arms to leave. These three wonderful people showed us such a gr8 time , we will never forget them and this cruise! Not to mention the rest of the wonderful staff! Alex our waiter in the Opera Bar, Peirro at Romeo's and all the other guys there too, they were all so gr8! We even exchanged email info to stay in touch and opened or homes to them if they were ever to visit Canada. The ship is very nice with a lot of Italian marble everywhere. The food was gr8 and lots to choose from. The entertainment was also very good. Even the staff can sing , Suzanne did Madonna better than Madonna! Ok I don't want to go on too much because you may actually be disappointed if I give it too much of a rave and I wouldn't want that to happen. Its just that we took a Carnival cruise in November and we loved this one much much more! We thought Carnival was a floating tacky piece of crap and Costa was very classy and especially for the price...remember we are budget travellers. We LOVED Muscat but beware of the taxi drivers here , they will rip you off. Negotiate a price, or get in one with a meter even better. We thought we had negotiated a price in Omanny money but then he didn't want that and we ended up paying 30$ for a short ride, this was talked down from 90$. We should have just walked out and gone through the port where he would not be allowed to go and then seen what he would have taken with all the port guards listening then. Anyway , beware. Other than that , Muscat is beautiful and the people are very friendly. The city is clean and not that big. We went to the Gate Museum, the Palace ( not a huge palace but situated on the water and is quite nice. Muscat is very quaint. Abu Dhabi is beautiful. The Marina Mall is here we got dropped off , we walked back across the bridge to the Emirates Palace Hotel and walked through it. Its likely the most beautiful building I have ever been in. They are also building many exciting things in this city , keep and eye out , it should all be done in less then ten years and its being done by the worlds most famous architects. Its going to be incredible. Then we went to the Hilton and swam in the pool and beach area. it was very nice. There was a fee for this. In Fujeirah we did the same thing, went to the HIlton. We didn't think there was much to do in Fujeirah so we thought we would just go for a walk on the beach but couldn't really get to it. Then this really nice kid in a nice car offered us a ride for no money!!! Of course we were apprehensive but I feel I have travelled quite a bit and am a good judge of character. We got in , he studies in the U.K. and was just being nice to tourists. He took us to the HIlton and said go to their beach. We did this and the Hilton here charges us nothing! The water of beach isn't as nice here though so we swam in their pool which was fantastic. 32 degrees C. We had a wonderful relaxing day here for free , away from the other people on the boat for a while and it was only just down the road from the port. We thought we would walk back along the beach but again it became a little hard to navigate so we took the road again ( no sidewalks keep in mind) then yet another nice man pulled over and asked us if we needed a ride. He was actually a cab driver and we told him we didn't have any money ( which was true as we thought we were just going for a walk on the beach initially and left our money on board) He said... no get this... that his parents taught him that its not always about money and he would drive us to the port! Not only this he stopped at a store and bought us water!!! and accepted nothing but a thank you for all his kindness! Don't get me wrong , we don't look like vagabonds or anything, we are perfectly respectable looking people, this was just out of his kind heart! Which made up for the fat bastard that ripped us off the day before in Muscat! Bahrain... we didn't get off the ship, hung out by the pool on board, my friend wasn't feeling well. Back to Dubai and there you have it! We loved the cruise, we loved the ports , we loved the people and we Loved Costa! Less
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