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I did this cruise on my own in February 2019 (you can read the paragraph below for reasons why this was a solo cruise). It was the final part in a longer holiday which included  a few days in Bangkok before the cruise.

This was a cruise of two halves (Brian). The major ports of call were Dubai and Abu Dhabi. During the whole itinerary passengers get two complete days in Dubai, plus part of a third. The whole days either come one at the beginning and one at the end, or two together at the end – this is determined by which of the two embarkation your cruise starts. The part day is made up of the days you embark and disembark. Then they also get two whole days in Abu Dhabi.

But five days in Dubai and Abu Dhabi do not a complete cruise make, so there have to be calls at other ports. One of these is Sir Bani Yas island, which is in the emirate of Abu Dhabi, so still in the UAE. Then on my itinerary there were three ports of call outside the UAE: Manama, the capital of the Kingdom of Bahrain, and Muscat and Khasab, both in the Sultanate of Oman. it’s fair to say that these places differ from Dubai & Abu Dhabi to a greater or lesser extent. Manama gives the impression of trying to do a Dubai but only just getting going. Muscat and Khasab, on the other hand, are very different – much less developed, and you will see a number of actual Arabs in the streets! (A rarity in Dubai, etc, as about 80% of the population of both of those emirates is made up of expatriates.) Khasab especially is small and very basic – there’s essentially no development here. Muscat is also largely undeveloped, but in the area where the ship berths there is sufficient local colour – the souk especially – to make for an interesting call.

I was able to do a number of posts while I was on the cruise. Seeing as this was a new itinerary, I was particularly interested in documenting some of the practical arrangements that had been set up. So here are some links to specific topics:

  • first, there were the travelling arrangements;
  • then there were the various passport checks and face-to-face checks whenever we entered and re-entered the UAE;
  • I mainly went ashore on my own at most of the ports, so I was particularly interested in the shuttle bus arrangements at various ports. Here’s a link to posts that include shuttle bus information in Dubai, Manama, Abu Dhabi and Muscat;
  • I made a few comments about P&O’s advice re currency to use in ports outside the UAE – I think P&O are wrong;

Then there would be the things I did in each port:

  • In Dubai I visited the Dubai Marina (and used the Dubai Metro to do so) on the first day, and on the second day I – well, I don’t seem to have done a post about that day!;
  • In Abu Dhabi I visited the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, and then walked along the Corniche on the first day, and visited the Abu Dhabi Louvre on the second day;
  • In Manama I visited the National Museum;
  • I went ashore for a few hours at Sir Bani Yas island;
  • In Muscat I wandered around the Souk, visited a small museum, and went for a walk to a local landmark;
  • And at Khasab I did an excursion.

I won’t say much about Oceana herself, as I did this on my previous cruise in September 2018 and here’s where you can read my thoughts about her at that time. They haven’t really changed. One thing that is different is that this time, cruising on my own, I had an inside cabin (B731). This was small, but fine for just me I was perfectly comfortable in it. I probably ought to say, however, that it would not have been so comfortable had Val been with me – it was small, there wasn’t a huge amount of wardrobe space, and there weren’t any actual chairs (there was a stool). It was very quiet, and I slept well – as I said, I was perfectly comfortable in it as a solo traveller.

Next I ought to say something about the UAE. It’s an extraordinary country (well, Dubai and Abu Dhabi are – I have not visited the other Emirates which I gather are less developed). They’ve set themselves on a unique course, and who knows where and how it will end. It is very strange that a country can end up with about 75% or more of its population made of of non-citizen expatriates, but that’s what the UAE has done. Both Dubai and Abu Dhabi are full of amazing architecture, of course. I found the Sheikh Zayed mosque to be truly stunning – I spent about an hour there – and I also enjoyed the things I saw in Dubai. But I can’t help wondering if it’s going to be a successful course in the very long term. What will happen when the oil runs out? I keep comparing the UAE with Singapore. Both countries are very rich and both have spectacular sights (the Marina Bay Sands hotel remains more impressive than the Burj Khalifa to my mind). But Singapore has done it without any oil money; just by the energy, skills and enterprise of its people. I can’t help feeling that’s the greater and more sustainable achievement.

Finally, I said that I would explain why I was on my own this time. Well, when I retired in early 2015 Val and I agreed that I would be free to do some travelling while she continued working – she hasn’t retired yet (as of early 2019). So in the first couple of years of my retirement I did a number of trips to Europe and to the US. Then in 2017 I did a longer and, to me, more adventurous trip – a holiday in Asia, specifically Singapore, Penang in Malaysia, and Dubai. And I did a similar trip in 2018, this time to Singapore (again) and Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. I enjoyed these trips enormously. They were hard work; the flights were long and I found the heat a challenge at times, but it was interesting to go to places that were different, even if in Singapore English is very widely spoken. Most important of all was that I was mixing with people who had a completely different world view. Not necessarily opposed to mine, just different. Here’s a link to a review/report of the first of those trips in my travel blog. So this cruise was part of my third solo trip to Asia, and was a different way of seeing the UAE from my previous, short visit.

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