My husband and I booked this cruise with Virgin Cruises . We had 6 nights in Ras Al Khaimah before joining the cruise in Dubai . We had no difficulty arriving in Dubai airport . I had brought copies of my husbands prescription medicines but no-one was interested. ,and we were soon on our way to Ras Al Khaimah . After 6 enjoyable relaxing days we were transferred to the cruise terminal in Dubai arriving around 11.30 Am . I had printed off the Rccl health questionnaire kindly posted on the forum and had completed it that morning before checking in which speeded things up . We checked in at the Crown and Anchor desk and were soon on board . We made our made to the windjammer on desk 11 and had an enjoyable lunch there when it opened at 12 Pm . We were pleased to see that free soft drinks and water were available with lunch . Our stateroom was available at 1Pm . We had opted for an inside stateroom as I had read that the ports of call were all container ports . Our cabin on deck 9 was quite adequate . Our luggage arrived around 2.30 Pm .
Virgin had laid on a champagne reception in the Starqest Loungue and we attended that and watched in comfort as the ship departed Dubai . We had 2nd sitting dinner i.e 9pm and were at a table of 6 . we hadn't bothered with the wine package as my husband doesn't drink wine . I just ordered a bottle for around $38 including tip and this did me for a couple of dinners . My husband had beer $8 with tip Cider was also available .Iced water was served with the meal free of charge .
Day 2 Fujairah
We decided to stay on board as we had read that their wasn't much to see . A free shuttle bus was provided to take you to a supermarket .
The dress code to-night was formal and the Captain also hosted his Welcome Aboard reception with free drinks .
Day 3 Muscat Oman
We got up early to watch the ships arrival in port at 8 Am After a lovely breakfast in the windjammer we joined our ships tour. Nouvelle Nakhl Fort and Resort $89 . We booked all our trips on the TV in the stateroom and found it very convenient .
We travelled up the coast to a fishing village where the local fishermen were seated on the beach selling their fish which were displayed on pieces of carpet . Certainly different . We then had a somewhat tedious journey to Nakhl Fort which was quite interesting with some great views . Then on to Nakhl Springs which were not to exciting followed by a not very good lunch in Al Nahda Spa, the grounds of which were lovely . Given that the price of petrol is 20pence a litre I felt this tour was a little overpriced .
To-night the dress code was White or Arabian dress .
To-day we had a leisurely breakfast in the dinning room the service and the food was very good and I particularly enjoyed my smoked salmon omelette.
We then took the free shuttle bus to the port gates (as these are working ports you can't walk around ) where a host of robed taxi drivers were waiting to pounce . As the taxis are not metered you have to negotiate a price beforehand . The currency here is the Oman rial but they will accept dirhams dollars or euros . It would be helpful if the ships TV chat show could give an idea of reasonable fares . After escaping the taxi drivers we had a look round the fish market (Spot the fisherman's wife ) and then had a pleasant walk along the corniche . There is a souk on the opposite side of the road .
To-night we had to miss the Crown and Anchor drinks reception as we had a dinner reservation for Chops . There is a $30 cover charge but this includes your Tip . I had the fillet Mignon and my husband had the T bone steak(porterhouse ) and both were excellent I also had the red velvet cake which was a masterpiece . You can order a glass of wine with your meal for between $11 -$20 plus tip ., But if you have wine in the dinning room it can be sent up . After dinner we went to the Abba show which we both enjoyed . There was also a guest appearance of "Village People "look alikes in the Centium which was hilarious .
Day 5At sea
This morning we had an invite to a special breakfast in the colony club for Crown and Anchor guests which was excellent .
We then spend a leisurely day on deck soaking up the sun . We were pleased to see that people who had reserved sun beds but left them un occupied for a long time had their towels removed by the crew .
To-night was the second formal night .
Day 6 Abu Dhabi
This morning we went on The Grand Mosque Visit tour which was truly amazing Ladies had to wear Abayas which were provided but you could wear your own head scarves . You were also given a bag to carry your shoes around in . We returned to the ship for lunch and then joined the Yas Marina Circuit tour which my husband greatly enjoyed particularly as there were some cars using the track .
We went to the Mo-town show this evening which was very good .
Day 7 Dubai
This morning we took the Dubai City tour. When we left the ship there was a sand storm so we didn't have a very good view of Burj Al Arab but this soon settled down and we enjoyed the rest of the tour which included the Bastakia area, the museum and the gold and spice souks .
After returning to the ship for lunch we took a taxi to the Dubai Mall 65 dirhams . You have to pay a port tax of 20 dirhams included in the fare when leaving the port but not on the return which was 40 dirhams . We had a look at the aquarium and the waterfall before visiting At the Top which I had booked online before leaving home 110 dirhams . If you don't book in advance you can pay 400 dirhams and have instant access . This was another unmissable experience . We had booked for 5.30pm and had a view of daylight and sunset . We then went to Joe's cafe on the first floor where we had a great view of the fountain show from the outside terrace before taking a taxi back to the ship . If you use the taxi stand at the exit near the waterfalls you avoid the long queues.
We had just time to finish packing as your suitcases need to be outside your cabin by 10 pm and sort out our tips before dinner . We had opted now to prepay our tips in advance as I prefer to experience the service first . Although you still had the option of adding them to your sea pass account up until the day before disembarking . We just tipped in cash using dollars and the last of our dirhams . We found both the service in the dinning room and the stateroom to be very good .
Day 8 Home
We had an early start this morning as we were due to leave at 6.30 am The windjammer was open from 4 am for a restricted breakfast with full service available from 7am . Our disembarkation went smoothly . Our only gripe was the bus driver left us to unload our own cases at the airport , and there were no porters available . We also had to lift our heavy suitcases onto the belt for security screening .
All in all we had an enjoyable cruise . The food was very good with the exception of the bay scallops which were the size of garden peas. The service everywhere was good . The price of drinks was a little steep $15 for a gin and tonic and rum and coke . The staff were very friendly and we particularly enjoyed our chats with Neill the Irish chef at Chops who gave us a great insight on RCCl's food policies . We also liked being able to book trips and view our bill on the TV in the stateroom
I hope this will be of help to anyone who like us is on their first visit to this region and you haven't been too bored .