We chose this cruise because of the itinerary. We wanted to see the Middle East. It was extremely good value for money. The trip allowed us to see Dubai without going there specifically for a holiday. We flew Etihad to Dubai and had 2 days ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary. We wanted to see the Middle East. It was extremely good value for money. The trip allowed us to see Dubai without going there specifically for a holiday. We flew Etihad to Dubai and had 2 days to explore before joining the ship. For me, Dubai was a bit like Vegas, big, brash and soaked in money. What they have raised from the desert is hugely impressive, but not my cup of tea. Glad to have seen it, but wouldn't be rushing back. Although we did all the modern sights, and did enjoy the Burj Khalifa, the creek area and museum were our favourites. A visit to the souks combined with the 1 dirham ferry across the creek was a taste of the old city.
Joining the ship was easy - took all of 10 mins to register and be in our cabin!!! The ship is lovely, nothing to complain about at all. Our dinner sitting was fine and we had great company. The buffet was a bit hectic due to the antics of some of our mediterranean guests, but after all this is an Italian ship, so you need to be prepared for this. However, I can't understand how you are supposed to get out of a lift when 10 Italians are trying to push their way in! Still haven't worked out their logic! Staff were all fine, I can't echo some of the complaints of other reviewers. Especially Feby, waitress in some of the bars, who went out of her way to help.
Abu Dhabi was our first port of call and we had a half day tour with an independent company. It was fine but not spectacular. This city is much greener than Dubai and with a visit. Great new terminal building with free wifi, important for us as we didn't take up the onboard wifi which apparently was a bit weak.
On our sea day, the decks were packed and if you are a sun lover, then be up early to get a lounger. However, this is only to be expected, I suppose.
Muscat saw torrential rain, the locals were delighted, and we hired a taxi along with another couple which took us to see the main sights for 25 euro, so not bad value compared to a ship's excursion. Sun came out in the afternoon and back to 27/28 degrees.
In Khasab we had again arranged an independent dhow tour, which was a bit choppy on the open water before we reached the fjord where it was very calm and we saw dozens of dolphins. Or maybe the same 2 or 3 several times! It was windy and therefore a bit cool, so I chose not to go swimming or snorkelling but the water was very clear and even from the boat we could see loads of fish.
On Sir Bani Yas Island I had booked a ship's mountain bike tour which was a complete waste of time - no scenery, just a flat dusty trek for 1 hour which really wasn't very inspiring. However as a beach day it was just fine, pity I had booked the tour. Great wifi as well.
Back in Dubai we had the half day 'new wonders of Dubai' booked through the ship. It didn't stick to the advertise schedule due to roads being closed off for a triathlon, so we ended up back at Dubai Mall which we had already seen, but I suppose this wasn't MSC's fault, but ended up a waste of time for us due to having seen it all the week previously.
Leaving the ship was easy. Didn't have to get off until 9.30 which was much more lenient than other cruises where we've had to evacuate at the crack of dawn. Taxi shared with another couple to the airport and home without any problems along the way.
Looking at other reviews, I would agree that the buffet did repeat itself, and wouldn't have liked 2 weeks of this food, but, look, you get what you pay for. Some people seem very hard to please. There was nothing wrong with this ship, food or staff and the itinerary was our choice so if we were disappointed in any way that's our own fault. The ship's excursions were a waste of time, but in the context of the whole 9 days, so what?
We had a week of sunshine in the middle of our winter, saw a whole new part of the world and met some lovely people. All in all a good result I would say. Read Less