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We’re at Abu Dhabi, and – it’s raining. At least it is now (9:30 local time), although there’s a chance it will get better during the morning. But it’s not going to get very hot – 22° at best today.

But that’s not what I’m writing about. I thought I’d document the Abu Dhabi ‘face to face’ immigration procedures. It’s actually being described as being necessary to “gain entry back into the UAE having come from Bahrain”, which is of course what we’ve done.

Basically, there is an entry hall at the terminal with immigration desks, and all passengers have to go through there and be seen/inspected by an immigration official. The procedure for this is as follows:

  • Passengers on morning excursions are assembled in their excursion groups in various locations onboard, and then crocodiled out to the entry hall;
  • Passengers going ashore independently, and those on afternoon excursions (but not on morning excursions), are required to assemble in Tiffany’s (Atrium Level 7) and collect a numbered ticket. Then from 9 o’clock the ticket numbers were called in groups (e.g. ‘tickets 1 to 50’), and the relevant passengers made their way ashore and round to the entry hall. There we joined various queues before standing before the official and handing over the passport. This was retained, and we were given a small document that reads “Abu Dhabi immigration cleared Carry this card with you at all times”. I then made my way back to the ship which of course caused some confusion as people were still flocking off.

Passengers had to complete this procedure by 11:30. I think that any passengers who failed to do so would not be able to go ashore.

I ought to say that although the above procedure sounds a bit complicated, we all received an explanatory letter the evening before, and as far as I could see, the actual procedures on the day matched those outlined in the letter.

One last thing (no, actually two things):

  • I mentioned that when I checked in at the beginning of the cruise my passport was checked by officials at the cruise terminal in Dubai, and returned to me with some extra documentation in it, a card which I think was indexed. There were some references in onboard documentation that these should be left in the passport, as they would be used in today’s procedure (I suppose it’s an easy check that all the passports being presented today had been checked previously at Dubai). Well, I did see one couple getting tickets who had ‘tidied up’ their passports and had removed the extra documentation. My reading of the instructions suggests that they might not have been able to complete today’s checks and therefore might not be able to go ashore;
  • And finally, I mentioned that it was raining ashore. I saw one passenger who running because of the rain, slip and fall over when she reached an area with smooth flooring just in front of the terminal. It’s very slippery out there in places.

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