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Vision of the Seas - 7 Night Arabian Sea - Feb 6-13, 2017


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Vision of the Seas – 7 Night Arabian Sea cruise from Dubai

 

Day 1 – Embarkation Day

We left Glasgow at 8:50 pm on Sunday, 5 February on our way to Dubai on Emirates Airways.  The flight was an overnighter so was uneventful.  We were due to land at 8:05 am.  The plane landed at about 7:40, which the pilot sounded so proud of, until we heard that in order to land so early we had to land on a runway on the other side of the airport from where we needed to be, which took about 30 minutes of taxiing. The result, we got there right on time.

The walk from the plane to baggage claim was ridiculously long.  Seemed like we walked for 30 minutes to get there.  Passport control was slow also.  There were two agents to service the 400 or so passengers that got off that plane.  I must say at this point that nothing up to now was any reflection on Royal Caribbean. 

Once we got our baggage we went to the lobby where we found someone with a RCCL sign.  She pointed us to the far end of the lobby to join a long line of people.  We made it through that line to check in with someone who gave us a piece of paper and a number and then put us into another line.  Still not out of the airport.  Apparently, the busses weren’t there yet. 

The piece of paper gave a rundown of the process of check-in that we would be going through.  In a nutshell:  The busses will take us to a hotel, where we will do our check-in and then we will have a buffet breakfast.  Busses will then take us to the cruise port to meet the ship.

RCCL Dubai Welcome Letter.pdf

 

We were on-board a bus at 9:45 to go to the hotel where we found a row of tables where we could check in.  Something about the immigration policies in the UAE require them to hold all passports so be prepared to exchange yours for your Sea Pass card.  Breakfast was standard buffet food, but not quite as good as the windjammer.  Tolerable though.

Busses were loaded and we headed to the port at 10:45. The ride to the port was about 30 minutes. Once at the port, it was a matter of going through security and walking right on-board.

If you wonder when you get your passports back, we were given the schedule for that as well.

RCCL Immigration Information.pdf

If you have followed my previous posts about this cruise, you will know that I paid for the Deluxe drink package on the Cruise Planner page of RCCL website.  The price that I paid was about USD $55.00.  That price was the same price from the date that I booked the cruise until I bought it.  No sale was ever offered.  Everyone has said, and I had believed that it is cheaper to buy it before the cruise so I didn’t take any chances and I bought it before we sailed.  Once on-board, I noticed that they were selling the drink packages for the same price.  No difference in prices.  

Drink Packages Onboard.pdf

Drink prices on-board, at various venues can be seen in the following documents.  No drink card was ever offered on this cruise, although the Cruise Planner had a coffee card available that was not available on-board.

Lattetudes Menu.pdf

Pool Bar Beer Special.pdf

Pool Bar Menu.pdf

R Bar Menu.pdf

Windjammer Drink Menu

 

Once we got to our stateroom at 1:00 I found our soda cups waiting on our bed with a statement of what was included with the drink package.

Beverage Package Receipt.pdf

 

Also a listing of Platinum benefits

Platinum Benefits.pdf

 

We just spent the rest of the day exploring the ship, drinking drinks, and relaxing. 

Dinner was in the Main Dining Room. We had a table of 6.  One couple (Stuart & Barbera) were quite old (I think he was 86).  A Yorkshire man who was a veteran of the Korean war as well as the Viet Nam war.  He was a test pilot in the RAF.  Every story seemed to relate to one of these wars or just his service in general.  The other couple was a bit younger (Richard & Sheila).  He was a retired police Officer from the London area.  All in all, the group was well mixed and we had a good time with them, but I certainly felt young at 53.  Our servers were Jose, from the Philippines and Lilia, from Croatia.  They took very good care of us throughout the cruise.

 

I think the day would not be complete without the drink counts:

Coffee = 3; Wine = 3; Beer = 1; Cocktails = 4; Mixed Drinks = 4; Bottled Water = 2 – Which put us about USD $20pp over what we spent. Getting our money’s worth. Can we keep it up? Keep reading to find out.

 

Cruise Compass - Boarding Day Edition

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Before I get started on Day 2, I thought of a couple other points to bring up about Day 1. 

GUEST ASSEMBLY DRILL – This was held at about 4:15. Every station is on the 5th deck outside (under the lifeboats).  Odd numbers (as printed on your Sea Pass card) are on the right (when looking at the pointy end of the ship) and even numbers are on the left.  The drill lasted about 20 minutes and wasn’t too bad since the weather was quite moderate.

As soon as we arrived on the pool deck, we got our first lavaflow and headed to the pool to put our feet in the water.  We were stopped by a pool attendant because a child had gotten sick in the pool and they had to clean it before we could enjoy it.  This wasn’t a big issue as it actually provided some entertainment as we watched others trying to do the same, some getting all the way to getting their feet in and having to get back out.  By the next day the pool was back to full functionality.

The ship left Dubai at about 6.

 

DAY 2 – Khasab, Oman

Having talked to many people on-board and even hearing the captain speak in the morning, this was a port that not many were looking forward to.  There isn’t a whole lot to do or see there.  We spent the day on-board and made use of our drinks package. 

This morning I attempted to do my signature Coffee Stroll on Periscope.  I had purchased the VOOM 2 device surf/stream package before the cruise at GBP £18.03 per day (USD $22.54).  The quality of the connection was very poor.  If you were to have seen the periscopes, they were pixelated and the voice was choppy.   Someone told me on one scope that it looked like I was under water.  Even with the poor quality, I still did the scopes each day in hopes that someone could get something good out of them none-the-less.

Tonight was formal night and we had our dinner in the main dining room.  Something of note; there seemed to be a shortage of beef items on the menu.  I do not remember what I had for dinner so I cannot comment on it specifically, but the dinner was good, plentiful and the service was great.

 

The drink counts for this day were:

Coffee = 3; Tea = 1; Orange Juice = 2; Wine = 3; Beer = 4; Cocktails = 5; Mixed Drinks = 7; Bottled Water = 2 – Which put us about USD $60pp over what we spent. Well on our way to over-spending on the drink package.

 

Cruise Compass - Day 1 - Dubai

Cruise Compass - Day 2 - Khasab, Oman

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Day 3 – Muscat, Oman

This morning I started with a stroll around the ship on Periscope on my way to get coffee and a cup of tea for my wife.  My experiences with VOOM this morning were not any different from the day before.  I could connect but the quality of the production was a let-down.

Today we decided to head out into the town to explore a bit and maybe get a few souvenirs and gifts for the kids back home.  We left the ship and caught a shuttle to the gate of the port as it is illegal to walk from the ship to the port entrance.  The bus was complimentary and ran fairly regularly so it was not too much a hassle.  When you leave the ship they hand you a card that serves as a temporary visa which you return when you come back on-board.

When outside the gate, be prepared to be accosted by taxi drivers.  They want to take you anywhere and charge you anything just to get a fare.  They knew the ship was in port overnight so they even attempted to arrange for a tour on the next day as well.  They are so ruthless that they even stop on the road beside you as you walk down the sidewalk to see if you need a taxi.  Once you get past the port entrance parking lot they thin out significantly and you can get on with your day with minimal hassle.

One thing that would have made our visit a lot better was if Royal Caribbean were to provide us a crude map of what is out there, where it is and which way to turn.  All we did was follow a crowd of other passengers and I guess we got lucky because we ended up in the town after about 10 minutes walk.  We weren’t really headed for it but we ended up at the Mutrah Souq.  (Sauq is a market place, kind of like a flea market but that is the place to get your souvenirs).  We walked through the labyrinth of alleys in the Sauq dodging the pushy sales people who try to put scarfs around your neck, hats on your head and handbags over your shoulder.  Haggling is necessary as everything seems overpriced.  We bought a couple stuffed camels and some incense and headed back out of the market.

The information given by the ship says that “The exchange rate from US Dollar to Omani Rial is approximately 0.40.† In translation, that is 1 Rial is equal to USD $2.60. 

We stopped at a café type of place for a drink.  We both ordered an Ice Cream Shake.  It came in a glass that was about 12 inches tall.  Hard to drink the whole thing but the milk, and juice in this drink was very fresh and refreshing.

We headed back to the ship in time for lunch so we headed up to the Windjammer.  As we entered the Windjammer we ran into our assistant waiter from the main dining room, Lilia, who was doubling as a hand sanitizer sniper.  She asked if we went into the town.  We told her of our morning and she said that that wasn’t Muscat.  Muscat is about 20km away and is a much nicer town to visit.  Why didn’t they tell us this?  A map would have helped for that.

As we finished our lunch, an announcement was made that a lot of passengers are returning to the ship for lunch so if you are finished eating, please make your way out of the windjammer. (or words to that effect).  This is the first time that I had ever heard that one, and we heard it a second time later in the cruise.  The Windjammer was very busy and seats were at a premium so I can understand the need, it was just different.

The rest of the day was just spent relaxing (and drinking)

The drink counts for this day were:

Coffee = 3; Tea = 1; Orange Juice = 2; Wine = 4; Beer = 2; Cocktails = 0; Mixed Drinks = 4; Coke (Glass) = 2; Bottled Water = 3 – Which put us about USD $16pp over what we spent.

 

Cruise Compass - Day 3 - Muscat, Oman

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I love how you're posting your drink count, it's making me wonder if maybe next time I should get some sort of pkg. Question: what are you considering a cocktail, vs. a mixed drink?

Cocktails are the "pool drinks" i.e. frozen drinks.  Mixed drinks are spirits with coke or juice.  I might add that although the counts are often high, it is not a case of drinking to fulfill the package but drinking because of the situation and I just wanted one.  

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Cocktails are the "pool drinks" i.e. frozen drinks. Mixed drinks are spirits with coke or juice. I might add that although the counts are often high, it is not a case of drinking to fulfill the package but drinking because of the situation and I just wanted one.

Thanks, that's kind of what I was thinking.

Doesn't seem high, I'm just not sure if I'd drink enough of anything to justify it, especially port days. But again, I like seeing your breakdown, as well as the Vision/ports review.

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Day 4 – Muscat, Oman, Day 2

Well, another early morning Coffee Stroll Periscope unsuccessful due to poor internet connectivity. 

We kind of got our fill of Muscat (or the port town we were in) on day 3, so we just decided to stay on-board and suck up the rays, and a bit of icy, fruity alcohol.  After all, the Men’s International Belly Flop Competition was at 2:00.  I do not think I have missed one of these on any of my Royal Caribbean cruises.

Michelle decided to get a manicure in the afternoon so I did a walk around the ship, attempted another Periscope (unsuccessfully), and took some photos.  For some reason we never made it to the Viking Crown Lounge, or located Izumi, so I went in search.  Having seen this large area looming over the pool deck, I figured it was there so that is where I headed.  I was not wrong.

 Dinner was in the Main Dining Room again.  Once again I do not remember what I had so cannot comment on it. 

After dinner it was off to the Centrum for some drinks and entertainment.  Off to bed about midnight (for the 4th consecutive night).

The drink counts for this day were:

Coffee = 3; Tea = 1; Orange Juice = 2; Wine = 3; Beer = 0; Cocktails = 4; Mixed Drinks = 3; Coke (Glass) = 3; Bottled Water = 1 – Which put us about USD $21pp over what we spent.

 

Cruise Compass - Day 4 - Muscat, Oman

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Day 5 – At sea – Formal Night

It was beginning to get tiring, getting up at 7 in the morning to go for coffee, and attempt a periscope, only to have it fail yet again.  But, I needed my morning coffee.  Megan, at Café Latte-Tudes has gotten to know me and knows what I am drinking each morning.  It does make you feel good to be recognised.

Breakfast this morning was room service on the balcony.  Can’t beat the sea breeze while having a meal.  What a great way to wake up.

Today was a sea day so we decided to just stay on-board.  Drinks were flowing at the pool bar and lounge chairs were waiting to support my lazy, fat a.. for the day.  I did my part to keep the chairs occupied.

The show tonight was Duck Cameron Illusionist.  He was pretty good, and a bit funny.  I love a good magician and he did a good job mesmerizing me with his prestidigitation. (now. . .  that was a big word)

Tonight was formal night.  We were dressed up and out for pre-dinner drinks.  It was prime rib night in the main dining room.  I cannot remember why, but after a couple drinks we decided to just go back to the room and order room service.  Steak sandwich and spinach dip.  I had actually been looking forward to this for a couple days.

We found a movie on TV to watch and went to bed about 1:00 am.

The drink counts for this day were:

By the way – These drink counts are for 2 people. (I’m not that thirsty)

Coffee = 1; Tea = 1; Orange Juice = 0; Wine = 0; Beer = 0; Cocktails = 6; Mixed Drinks = 4; Coke (Glass) = 5; Bottled Water = 0 – Which put us about USD $14pp over what we spent.  Looks like we are slipping here but with the room service night and breakfast room service we were not drinking the OJ or wine.

Cruise Compass - Day 5 – At sea

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Day 6 – Abu Dhabi

Coffee Stroll Periscope in the morning – Fail.

We had no idea what/where to go or do in this port.  We just winged it.  We left the ship, got in a cab and headed to anywhere.  I had picked up a map from the hop-on-hop-off bus so I had an idea of where things were, but had to ask where the ship was on the map.  We were told that the taxis here operate on the meter so no need to do any haggling.  The taxi driver we ended up with was trying to get us to pay for a full day’s touring at a cost of $150.00.  We ended up going to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. 

post-4134-0-59398600-1488280900_thumb.jpg

We paid $30.00 but I think we might have gotten ripped off.  It would be good if the ship told you what kind of taxi fares to expect to pay.  My wife was concerned with not having the appropriate clothing for the mosque.  At the entrance to the mosque, women that are not appropriately dressed are ushered into a side room where they are given a robe to wear.  Entry is free to this mosque.  It is a beautiful place and we easily spent an hour looking around and taking pictures.

post-4134-0-44296900-1488280983_thumb.jpgpost-4134-0-45377300-1488280988_thumb.jpgpost-4134-0-90451100-1488280993_thumb.jpgpost-4134-0-82606700-1488280999_thumb.jpgpost-4134-0-53358800-1488281006_thumb.jpgpost-4134-0-05185200-1488281010_thumb.jpgpost-4134-0-45466600-1488281013_thumb.jpg

We then found another taxi to take us to one of the large malls in the city.  I think it was the marina mall.  This place was the smallest in the city but it was absolutely HUGE. I’d hate to get lost in the largest.  We found a place to eat lunch, did a bit of looking around and shopping and headed back out.

The Red Bull Air Show was taking place in the marina area next to the mall.  By this time we were a bit tired of standing and walking and the weather was starting to get a bit hot so we just grabbed a taxi back to the ship where we could cool off with the obligatory pool drinks.

Dinner was in the main dining room.  I remember this meal.  Getting fed up with the lack of beef on the menu, I ended up ordering a Fillet from Chops for an additional $20.00.  That meat was superb! I would have to say it was the best meal I had on-board.  At the end of the meal, when the bill was brought, the waiter had discounted the steak by 25% so that extra $5 ended up as an additional tip.

Today was a long day and tomorrow will be a late night so we retired for the night.

The drink counts for this day were:

Coffee = 3; Tea = 1; Orange Juice = 2; Wine = 4; Beer = 0; Cocktails = 0; Mixed Drinks = 8; Coke (Glass) = 0; Bottled Water = 2 – Which put us about USD $30pp over what we spent.  At this point we could have not had another drink and still made out on the drink package.  Stay tuned to tomorrow’s review for the final talley.

Cruise Compass - Day 6 – Abu Dhabi

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We ended up going to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. My wife was concerned with not having the appropriate clothing for the mosque.  At the entrance to the mosque, women that are not appropriately dressed are ushered into a side room where they are given a robe to wear.  Entry is free to this mosque.  

 

I had a similar experience when visiting the Grand Mosque in Bahrain.  They provided a hijab  for us.  This was also a beautiful place and we were fortunate enough to be there when the adhan (call to prayer) was given.  I got a video of the imam doing it.

 

My only faux pas ?  Reaching to shake the hand of the lovely man who gave us the tour.  He actually took my hand and shook it but told me that men are not allowed to be touched by women who are not their wives.  Since he was more "worldly" than most he was not offended.

 

Very interesting visit.

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Great blog, thanks! I am due to travel on the VotS on 20/03 - your blog is really helpful. 

 

May I ask.......

 

On your last disembarking day, what did you have to leave? I assume the latest time is around midday if this is the earliest time new guests may arrive on embarking?

 

Can you recommend any excursions or points to note which you may not already mentioned?

 

Also, in terms of ports, how far away from the centre of each destination are these? I am trying to work out how much currency to bring for taxi and fares etc, as I've already pre-paid for most of my actual excursions by card. I dont want to have too much cash. 

 

Thanks

 

 

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Great blog, thanks! I am due to travel on the VotS on 20/03 - your blog is really helpful. 

 

May I ask.......

 

On your last disembarking day, what did you have to leave? I assume the latest time is around midday if this is the earliest time new guests may arrive on embarking?

 

Can you recommend any excursions or points to note which you may not already mentioned?

 

Also, in terms of ports, how far away from the centre of each destination are these? I am trying to work out how much currency to bring for taxi and fares etc, as I've already pre-paid for most of my actual excursions by card. I dont want to have too much cash. 

 

Thanks

Disembarkation by us was at about 8:45.  I think they want everyone off by 10:30.  They have to clean and re-stock before the next passengers come on so they want everyone off pretty quick.

 

I only took one excursion during the cruise.  (Havent covered it yet in the live blog).  I took the Dune Dinner Safari in Dubai.  I would recommend it.  Take a camera, do not wear tennis shoes (sandals are better) and do not sit in the very back of the 4x4.  A great night though.

In Abu Dhabi, go to the mosque.  It is quite breathtaking.  It can be done without an excursion.  Taxi should cost about $20 USD.

 

The distance to the cities varies by port.  If you look at the Cruise Compasses for this cruise I have submitted to this blog site, they include the port information guides for each port.  That can give you some idea of what to expect.  If you would like you can give me your e-mail and I can send you them so you can print them out.

 

Enjoy your cruise.

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Enjoyed reading your blog as well. Traveling through the Middle East would certainly be an eye opening experience for my family as we always cruise the Caribbean. Vision of the Seas comes to Galveston Texas in 2018 so will be seeing how she is at that time.

 

Again, good to read your posts about your journey!

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Thanks for your blog we are newbies to cruising and I have found your blog more helpful than anything I have found on Royal Caribbean website. Can I just ask as we travel 20/03 on formal nights how formal is it. Do I need to wear a long cocktail dress.

On our Formal Nights, I wore a long sleeved, button up 'dress' shirt, no tie and dress trousers, my wife wore a knee length cocktail dress.  No one batted an eye at us.

8 days left - I'll bet you're excited.  Enjoy your cruise.  Let me know if you have any other questions.

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