A two hour car trip, seven and a half hour plane journey and a twenty five minute taxi ride later, we reached our destination, Port Rashid Cruise Terminal, Dubai.
Thankfully the heat did not hit us like I had expected. It was bearable even for me who is quiet happy with the lower temperatures that we have become accustomed to living on the Emerald Isle.
As you exit the taxi rank at the cruise terminal there are plenty of porters waiting to take your bags to check in. Remember to attach the pre-printed luggage tags you were given by travel agent or that you may have printed yourself at home. These are very important as they have your cabin number and name of ship on them, as there may be more than just your cruise ship in port. Also, you may not see your luggage again for another few hours as they have thousands of bags to deliver throughout the ship. I would advise keeping a smaller bag with you with swimwear towel glasses etc. anything you plan to use in the first few hours. I am led to believe that even though we prepaid our gratuities that the guys who are helping with the luggage are not part of this so you may want to tip a few dollars if you feel you had good service.
After our luggage was taken we had a pretty smooth check in, no huge ques or problems. We were issued with our sea pass, this acts as your room key your identification and as your method of payment for any extras you wish to purchase on board. They sell lanyards on board or if you go to Casino they will punch hole in card and give you one of the stretchy ones, handy for the slot machines. One thing we were surprised by is the fact they keep your passport at the check in desk and you don’t get it back till some days later, it felt weird walking away from desk knowing we had left it there.
Our ship was not departing till 6pm and we had embarked by 12, the sooner you are on the sooner you can start making use of all the amenities, pools, buffet and bars. By this stage we were pretty sweltering from the heat, still in our cooler climate clothes, as we went direct form airport, so we were glad of the fact that we had researched our trip and had the bag with change of clothes in it.
Our first impression of the Royal Caribbean Vision of the Seas was, oh god it’s not as big as expected and certainly in need of a lick of paint, as it was almost I would say grubby. None the less we did not let this deter us and we excitedly made our way towards the gangway where we were greeted by the friendly staff and security.
As this was our first cruise we were not sure what to expect. I had researched a lot and had read very mixed reviews about both the destinations and the ship from people who had just done this same itinerary only a month before hand.
Signage wasn’t the clearest when we got on then again everyone looked as lost as we did and everyone just crammed into the lifts hoping to follow someone who knew where they were going.
First stop for us was buffet and pool deck. Pool was lovely and people were starting to dive in as soon as they boarded. Buffet area was bigger than we expected and food was good enough, offering a selection of hot food, salads, breads, fruits and desserts. Waiting staff were very attentive and although it is a self-serve buffet there are any number of staff clearing tables and ready to assist you if needs be.
After relaxing for an hour or so and a few beverages later, we decided to check see if our cabin was ready yet even though we were told it could be few hours same as the baggage. Luckily for us when we found it, it was ready for us. We were pleasantly surprised by the room, bathroom was not near as small as we had heard, spotless clean and plenty of storage. We even had a couch and coffee table, a vanity area and chair and adequate storage wardrobes. Better yet we had a balcony room; the views from here were deadly, though we may not have used it as much as we may have planned. All in all the room was a lot better than places I have laid my head over the years. A short time later our bags arrived, we unpacked before going off to explore our new digs for the next week.
Now one thing, one unavoidable pain in the head but necessary thing, Mandatory Safety drill. You will be told what muster station to be at and the time, you cannot miss this, your name is on a list. A safety instructor goes through all the emergency plans with you, bit annoying standing in line when it’s so hot but what can you do!
Each day, there is a thing called compass, it’s basically the ships newsletter. It details every show , all entertainment , shop sales etc. so that you can make a plan of all the things you want to visit around the ship as well as giving you information about the port you may be visiting that day, weather temperature and other general information.
We took in a theatre show, a game show quiz, dinner, daquaris and casino, my favourite before retiring for the night, might I add at this stage you would have no idea that you were even on a ship, it was so smooth you’d forget you were at sea.
Roll on tomorrow, our first port day where we will be visiting Khasab, Oman.
To be continued……..