Tuesday, March 31, 2009

April calendar is not complete...

March 30, 2009 – at sea - Did not receive a “full” calendar for April!!!!!
Hazy and sunny.

Dubai information…
Evidence of human encampments in Dubai along the shores near the Strait of Hormuz date back more than 5,000 years. Each time there is new construction (which is frequently), more is found beneath the sands. A little more than 600 years after Christ lived in what is now Israel, Muhammed was born in Mecca, and Islam swept across the Arabian Peninsula. Vasco da Gama, the first European navigator to reach the Gulf, sailed into the Strait of Hormuz in 1498. In the 1800s, the coast was known as the “pirate coast”.

Established in 1971, there are seven Emirates (kingdoms) in this country, the United Arab Emirates. We hear of Abu Dhabi and Dubai more frequently than the other emirates: Sharjah, Ajma, Amm Al-Qaiwan, Ras Al-Khaimah and Fujairah. A treaty established a council of Sheikhs to retain control over their emirates and rule as a council.

The emirs (rulers) know their oil reserves are finite and have diversified; they expect the oil to run out in 20 years. Sheikh Al-Maktoum has built Dubai into a futuristic wonder. The world’s tallest building will soon stand in a city where power was a luxury just a few decades ago. The hotel, Burj Al Arab, was the impetus for future development. www.jumeirah.com
There are no rivers in Dubai, just the Dubai creek. Transportation on the water can be via an Abra or a Dhow; women sit in the front of the local buses. Windtowers were used to cool the homes; they are square towers with openings on each side and today are being designed into the new structures for architectural purposes only. Islam is the official religion and you hear the call to pray frequently via loudspeakers. Each community has its own mosque so there are many in the city. Jebel Ali has the largest manmade harbor and is home to their massive container port. Dubai airport is the 11th largest airport in the world with the most amazing shopping complex open at all hours. The areas of the city most visited by tourists are: Bur Dubai (historical area), Deira (gold and spice souks/markets) and Jumeirah (resorts and beach area). There is a fantastic Big Bus Tour offering commentary on two routes with hop on-hop off service, two walking tours and admission to the Dubai Museum.

Currency: Arab Emirates Dirham; approx. US$1 = 3.7 dirhams
Businesses are closed from 1:30-4. Electronics, gold and spices are the best buys.

Had a nice breakfast in the dining room with friends and talked about the world cruise. How did we feel about the length of it? FINE (105 days). Would we do it again? YES
There is a definite mind set for a world cruise. We had more passengers join yesterday in Dubai and those on the shorter segments see it as a vacation. For those on the full world cruise, it is a voyage; it is living each day as you would on land and then tossing in even more interesting days in a new city without having to board a plane and unpack all the time. It is hard to explain. You visit with friends (including many crew with whom you consider to be your very dear friends), meet for a meal and do regular household chores (except cooking and cleaning!).

The room steward, Jamie, delivered our April calendar. It really was a shock to see it filled out only until April 20!!!!!!!! Where we expect to be and our daily dress code are listed daily on the calendar. What a shock. And a surprise -- how could time have passed so quickly???

After April 20, it will not matter what I wear for dinner…no more “elegant casual, semi-formal or formal wear” required!!! Sadly, I will no longer hear the waves crashing against the side of the ship when on the balcony. (We do have the wonderful advantage of transferring to the Queen Mary 2 in Southampton for another 6 days of catering so we arrive home on April 26, completing the entire world cruise.)

Worked on the computer and photos and even took a nap! Black and White Ball and the production number was “On the West Side”. It was a fabulous dance and song version of West Side Story with rhythm and blues, jazz and cutting-edge choreography.

New speakers onboard and the topics today were: “Trojan War”; “Muscat, a new Old Country (in the country of Oman which we sail by and do not stop to visit); “Building a Modern Cruise Ship”.