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A pretty looking ship standing so serenely in Dubai. The cruise ticket stated embarkation would commence at 8pm but I arrived much earlier and check-in and boarding actually started at 3pm. I do have to say one big downside was not being able to access your cabin until 8pm which was really hard as many passengers had travelled on overnight flights from Europe and all over the ship you could hear mini-meltdowns happening from really tired people. With hindsight I should have just checked in the luggage and taken one of the free shuttle buses from the port to Dubai Mall and kept myself busy instead of killing 5 hours trudging around the ship with my carry-on waiting to get into my cabin. Having this extra "Zombie" time it gave me the chance to sit and study what was on offer. I did the comparing the bar prices with the all inclusive package and the 25 Euro daily charge was a deal for me as this included most of my favourite tipples. Eventually the call came over the PA system at 8.30pm saying the cabins were now ready. This was the first time I've ever experienced a late, late check-in and could only put this down to the previous guests vacating the cabins late. The inside cabin I was given on deck 7 surprised me with its size. The bathroom seemed to be larger than usual and the extra storage space was real treat more than enough room for clothes and luggage storage. The ship stayed overnight in Dubai and feeling as tired as I did it was wasted on me. I wasn't too impressed with the buffet provided but I appreciate when you are tired everything is worse so an earlier than normal night for bed it was for me. At the start of day 2 I approached the a bar manager and offered to buy the all inclusive package but insisted they only charge me for 6 days instead of the usual 7 as day one was just a write off in my opinion and he agreed to do this. On a positive note on disembarkation day back in Dubai the latest you can leave the ship is 3pm and the all inclusive package is still usable on this day also so the Irish coffee's were welcomed as I waited for my transfer. (Tip Number 1. If you decide to get a taxi at the port in Dubai, tell the driver not to start the meter until you leave the port gates. It takes forever to get out of the port and the extra 20/25 UAE Dirham's surcharge for a port pick-up is a joke). The sail-away from Dubai was a wonderful treat. The ship played "Time to say goodbye" over the PA system followed by "Over the rainbow" by the larger than life Hawaiian singer Israel Kamakawiwo'ole and catching sight of the QE2 as we pasted through the harbour I beamed from ear to ear thinking this is going to be a good one and of course, the sun was shining on the righteous lol... After the 10.30am sail-away on Day 2 this was a great time to start working on a suntan. Of course this same idea was had by 2000 other passengers so next time note to self. Get your beach towel from your wardrobe in your cabin and to save you spending half an hour looking for the towel station. Once you have your towel find a nice sun-bed on the lido deck and then watch then enjoy the sail-away before you continue to look rather snug as you have a sun-bed and now you have a perfect position to watch the hundreds of meltdowns and looting happening right in-front of you. The food in the main dining room was nicely presented and cooked to a very high quality. Being a regular Royal Caribbean and Celebrity cruiser I would go as far to say the food on this cruise left Royal Caribbean in the shade and could possibly give Celebrity a run for its money. I just have one gripe about the evening dining set-up. Your choices are to eat in the main dining room or room service, and that's your lot! I found it strange no evening buffet was provided but I had to keep reminding myself "well this is how these do it so stop comparing". Muscat was our first port of call. Just bite the bullet and get a taxi to take you to the Sultan's Palace and old Muscat if you don't fancy being a sheep on one of the excursions. If you want a beach like I did after my bout of cultural intake head for the Crowne Plaza. Cost me 10 Euros each way from the Port and well worth it. The beach is stunning and I was lucky to pick-up free wifi. In all of my travels the sunset I saw that evening will stay with me forever. The second Port in Oman is to a place I'm still trying to work out some two weeks later. The small enclave of Khasab is in my opinion a one horse town and the day I visited the horse had bolted. If you want a beach walk out of the port, turn right and walk ten minutes and once around the corner the beach will be in-front of you. Don't go expecting something stunning because you'll be disappointed but if you need to be by the coast and escape the "European Razzmatazz" of the ship then it will do. Take food and drink with you because you'll not get any at this beach. Now for the brave. If you don't do a ships excursion catch the free shuttle into the town. On the way ask the driver to STOP at the castle and go and check it out. Te entrance cost me 3 Euros and I got some stunning photos. After I had finished at the castle I just waited for another minibus to pass and then continued the journey to the town centre. This town must and should be twinned with a small village in India or Mars... The Mosque looked pretty but a day trip to a slum just doesn't float my boat. Don't let me colour your judgement on this place but when you do get it and the light goes on please let know lol.... Beautiful Abu Dhabi was will be the last port of call before you head back to Dubai. You will find the first free shuttle bus to the World Trade Centre Mall does not come until 10am so don't break your neck to get off this ship is this is your idea of a day out. You will see the horror in the taxi drivers eyes when you ask him to take you to the Mall. These boys are after the ones with the cash who want to booked them for a few hour city tour. Do it yourself and save a fortune doing what I did. I jumped into the taxi, closed the door and instructed the driver to take me to the Port gates. You could see the relief coming from him as he is obliged to take you as the Port officials are watching. Once you are at the Port Gates catch bus number 9 or 11. Pay the 2 Dirham's for the 30 minute journey to the Marina Mall. The photos you'll take along the way will be fanatic and for less than 0.50c you are now at the place of the rich and famous. Once you've hit the Mall walk across the bridge towards the beautiful Cornish and within 15/20 minutes on your right you will be left spell bounded with the Emirate Palace which is an absolute must do. Once you have finished at the Emirate Palace head back to the Mall and look for bus numbers 54, 34, 32, 32 & 52. For the 2 Dirham's all of the buses will take you to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque which is a GOT TO DO. The beautiful mosque will blow your mind and all I could think about when visiting was the 1001 Arabian Nights. Aim to be at the Mosque at 10am, 11am or 5pm for the free tour. Just remember to respect local traditions and customs and cover-up I was appealed at the number of people being ignorant of this but I guess sadly that is just one of the issues I have with this "we know it all and don't give a toss generation" Now you've a couple of choices get back on the bus or like I did I watched the sun-set and jumped into a taxi back to the ship (Remember you need terminal 2 should you be taking the bus back). Please don't think I'm frugal but when I'm travelling I like to do it on a shoestring and see it as local would because to me that is a big part of the attraction for me. All in all a nice cruise. The international ship staff i.e.. Filipino and Indonesian are just wonderful as usual nothing is too much trouble and a smile is to be had all the time. Now on the other hand I personally found the European Staff at the Guest Relations Desk all attended the "Vlad the Impaler" finishing school and most of them graduated with a major in "I don't give a hoot and it's OK for me to belittle you" I did actually find myself having a drink on deck 3 and sitting near the Guest Relations Desk just for the entertainment. Lookout for the larger than life Italian lady she is just delicious and the young girl from Russian get my nomination for frightening the life out of people talking to them like they are soon to be shot lol... Hope I've not driven you the bottle or a premature death with my writing and should you do this cruise I'm sure you'll enjoy it as much as I did and don't be taken in with stereotypes or others ignorance I found the locals I met around the Gulf to be genuine, hospitable, friendly and most of all kind and more than happy to help. Wishing you all, many, many miles of smiles...  

Arabian Gulf Cruise

Costa Serena Cruise Review by Dazzadd

2 people found this helpful
Trip Details
A pretty looking ship standing so serenely in Dubai. The cruise ticket stated embarkation would commence at 8pm but I arrived much earlier and check-in and boarding actually started at 3pm. I do have to say one big downside was not being able to access your cabin until 8pm which was really hard as many passengers had travelled on overnight flights from Europe and all over the ship you could hear mini-meltdowns happening from really tired people. With hindsight I should have just checked in the luggage and taken one of the free shuttle buses from the port to Dubai Mall and kept myself busy instead of killing 5 hours trudging around the ship with my carry-on waiting to get into my cabin.
Having this extra "Zombie" time it gave me the chance to sit and study what was on offer. I did the comparing the bar prices with the all inclusive package and the 25 Euro daily charge was a deal for me as this included most of my favourite tipples. Eventually the call came over the PA system at 8.30pm saying the cabins were now ready. This was the first time I've ever experienced a late, late check-in and could only put this down to the previous guests vacating the cabins late. The inside cabin I was given on deck 7 surprised me with its size. The bathroom seemed to be larger than usual and the extra storage space was real treat more than enough room for clothes and luggage storage.
The ship stayed overnight in Dubai and feeling as tired as I did it was wasted on me. I wasn't too impressed with the buffet provided but I appreciate when you are tired everything is worse so an earlier than normal night for bed it was for me. At the start of day 2 I approached the a bar manager and offered to buy the all inclusive package but insisted they only charge me for 6 days instead of the usual 7 as day one was just a write off in my opinion and he agreed to do this. On a positive note on disembarkation day back in Dubai the latest you can leave the ship is 3pm and the all inclusive package is still usable on this day also so the Irish coffee's were welcomed as I waited for my transfer. (Tip Number 1. If you decide to get a taxi at the port in Dubai, tell the driver not to start the meter until you leave the port gates. It takes forever to get out of the port and the extra 20/25 UAE Dirham's surcharge for a port pick-up is a joke).
The sail-away from Dubai was a wonderful treat. The ship played "Time to say goodbye" over the PA system followed by "Over the rainbow" by the larger than life Hawaiian singer Israel Kamakawiwo'ole and catching sight of the QE2 as we pasted through the harbour I beamed from ear to ear thinking this is going to be a good one and of course, the sun was shining on the righteous lol...
After the 10.30am sail-away on Day 2 this was a great time to start working on a suntan. Of course this same idea was had by 2000 other passengers so next time note to self. Get your beach towel from your wardrobe in your cabin and to save you spending half an hour looking for the towel station. Once you have your towel find a nice sun-bed on the lido deck and then watch then enjoy the sail-away before you continue to look rather snug as you have a sun-bed and now you have a perfect position to watch the hundreds of meltdowns and looting happening right in-front of you.
The food in the main dining room was nicely presented and cooked to a very high quality. Being a regular Royal Caribbean and Celebrity cruiser I would go as far to say the food on this cruise left Royal Caribbean in the shade and could possibly give Celebrity a run for its money. I just have one gripe about the evening dining set-up. Your choices are to eat in the main dining room or room service, and that's your lot! I found it strange no evening buffet was provided but I had to keep reminding myself "well this is how these do it so stop comparing".
Muscat was our first port of call. Just bite the bullet and get a taxi to take you to the Sultan's Palace and old Muscat if you don't fancy being a sheep on one of the excursions. If you want a beach like I did after my bout of cultural intake head for the Crowne Plaza. Cost me 10 Euros each way from the Port and well worth it. The beach is stunning and I was lucky to pick-up free wifi. In all of my travels the sunset I saw that evening will stay with me forever.
The second Port in Oman is to a place I'm still trying to work out some two weeks later. The small enclave of Khasab is in my opinion a one horse town and the day I visited the horse had bolted. If you want a beach walk out of the port, turn right and walk ten minutes and once around the corner the beach will be in-front of you. Don't go expecting something stunning because you'll be disappointed but if you need to be by the coast and escape the "European Razzmatazz" of the ship then it will do. Take food and drink with you because you'll not get any at this beach. Now for the brave. If you don't do a ships excursion catch the free shuttle into the town. On the way ask the driver to STOP at the castle and go and check it out. Te entrance cost me 3 Euros and I got some stunning photos. After I had finished at the castle I just waited for another minibus to pass and then continued the journey to the town centre. This town must and should be twinned with a small village in India or Mars... The Mosque looked pretty but a day trip to a slum just doesn't float my boat. Don't let me colour your judgement on this place but when you do get it and the light goes on please let know lol....
Beautiful Abu Dhabi was will be the last port of call before you head back to Dubai. You will find the first free shuttle bus to the World Trade Centre Mall does not come until 10am so don't break your neck to get off this ship is this is your idea of a day out. You will see the horror in the taxi drivers eyes when you ask him to take you to the Mall. These boys are after the ones with the cash who want to booked them for a few hour city tour. Do it yourself and save a fortune doing what I did. I jumped into the taxi, closed the door and instructed the driver to take me to the Port gates. You could see the relief coming from him as he is obliged to take you as the Port officials are watching. Once you are at the Port Gates catch bus number 9 or 11. Pay the 2 Dirham's for the 30 minute journey to the Marina Mall. The photos you'll take along the way will be fanatic and for less than 0.50c you are now at the place of the rich and famous. Once you've hit the Mall walk across the bridge towards the beautiful Cornish and within 15/20 minutes on your right you will be left spell bounded with the Emirate Palace which is an absolute must do. Once you have finished at the Emirate Palace head back to the Mall and look for bus numbers 54, 34, 32, 32 & 52. For the 2 Dirham's all of the buses will take you to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque which is a GOT TO DO. The beautiful mosque will blow your mind and all I could think about when visiting was the 1001 Arabian Nights. Aim to be at the Mosque at 10am, 11am or 5pm for the free tour. Just remember to respect local traditions and customs and cover-up I was appealed at the number of people being ignorant of this but I guess sadly that is just one of the issues I have with this "we know it all and don't give a toss generation" Now you've a couple of choices get back on the bus or like I did I watched the sun-set and jumped into a taxi back to the ship (Remember you need terminal 2 should you be taking the bus back).
Please don't think I'm frugal but when I'm travelling I like to do it on a shoestring and see it as local would because to me that is a big part of the attraction for me. All in all a nice cruise. The international ship staff i.e.. Filipino and Indonesian are just wonderful as usual nothing is too much trouble and a smile is to be had all the time. Now on the other hand I personally found the European Staff at the Guest Relations Desk all attended the "Vlad the Impaler" finishing school and most of them graduated with a major in "I don't give a hoot and it's OK for me to belittle you" I did actually find myself having a drink on deck 3 and sitting near the Guest Relations Desk just for the entertainment. Lookout for the larger than life Italian lady she is just delicious and the young girl from Russian get my nomination for frightening the life out of people talking to them like they are soon to be shot lol...
Hope I've not driven you the bottle or a premature death with my writing and should you do this cruise I'm sure you'll enjoy it as much as I did and don't be taken in with stereotypes or others ignorance I found the locals I met around the Gulf to be genuine, hospitable, friendly and most of all kind and more than happy to help.
Wishing you all, many, many miles of smiles...
 
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Cabin Review

Cabin 7374
Large inside cabin. Vibrating issues when the ship is navigating.
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