A few years ago I held a subscription to Cruise Travel magazine for over 25 years, starting shortly after my first cruise on the tiny Bahamas Cruise Line’s Veracruz, which got me hooked on cruising for life. While unfortunately Cruise Travel magazine folded during the COVID pandemic, it was a wonderful bi-monthly publication that provided a wealth of information for the cruise enthusiast. In each issue they would feature a new ship review, a port of the month, worldwide itineraries, sometimes nostalgic ships, and letters written to the editor describing their experiences on whatever cruise they just returned from; in effect a pre-internet message board of sorts.
The magazine started well before the age of the internet, and back in the late 80’s and early 90s, was one of the few ways to gain a concise publication of various cruise lines, ships, ports, and various itineraries available; some of which I never thought I would be doing, such as this 34 day cruise from Athens to Singapore. The reason I wrote this paragraph and the name of this post, was Cruise Travel featured an article every magazine entitled “If you only have a day in XYZ city”, in this case the XYZ city is Dubai. I’ve saved all on the Cruise Travel magazines over the years, and it’s a pleasure going back sometimes and re-visiting some of the articles on the many ships and cruise ports. I couldn’t find the “If only you had a day in Dubai” magazine issue before we left for this trip, but I will search for it again when I get home. The way Dubai is literally skyrocketing with buildings and attractions, it should make for an interesting read from just a few years ago.
So, here is my version of “If you only have a day in Dubai . . .” We were in Dubai on a Thursday, which was the termination point of the passengers who sailed 18 nights from Athens to Dubai, and the embarkation of new passengers sailing for 16 nights onto Singapore. Others, like us, are continuing on for the full 34 cruise on the Seabourn Encore. This cruise is only sailing with approximately 350 passengers out of a maximum of 600.
Steve (DOS) and I had arranged thru Seabourn for a private car and driver for our day in Dubai. While many times we will arrange a tour on our, we wanted the security knowing the ship would wait for us in the event we were late returning to the ship, as it was scheduled to depart at 4:30pm. We had such a full day and were stuck in traffic on the way back to the ship that we didn’t arrive back until 4:05, a bit too close for our comfort.
We started the day meeting our car and driver just outside the cruise terminal at 8am. As I had never been to Dubai before, and DOS many years ago, we let the guide select most of the site she thought we enjoy, although I had one specific “must see” request, and that was to visit the QE2, which is now permanently docked as a hotel, similar to its predecessor the original Queen Mary, which is a hotel docked in Long Beach, California.
Our guide and driver had to look up and GPS the address of the ship/hotel as it was quite aways from the port area where we were docked. I guess its not a common request to tour the QE2, but as I love the maritime history of cruises, and especially the crossings of these former ocean liners, of which only the Queen Mary 2 of Cunard Lines, still operates as a true ocean liner. We had an 11am reservation for the one hour “Heritage Tour”, so our guide showed us a couple landmarks not far from the port before we headed out for a 45 minute drive to the Queen Elizabeth 2 Ship/Hotel.
Dubai is the largest of the seven Emirates (an Emirate is similar to the US States) of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and has a population of more than 3.5 million people. Approximately 80% of the residents are Ex-Pats from other countries such as India, who are provided work visas for employment. Some, like our tour guide for the day from Georgia (former Soviet Union) planned on staying only for a year, but have enjoyed the city and have stayed there for several years. Dubai is both the name of the city and the Emirate it is part of in the UAE. The city is quite spread out, and at times (such as returning to the ship) can be quite traffic congested on the large, multi-lane freeways.
As our reservation for the QE2 wasn’t until 11am, we spent some time touring a couple of the nearby sites to the cruise port such as the Marina, and Blue Waters Complex. Dubai is very clean and ultra-modern with dozens of skyscrapers and hotels. I describe it as a “bit over the top”. Of the three Emirates we have visited so far on this trip, it is a stark contrast to the more conservative other Emirates, both in dress, lifestyle, and blended culture of and tourism, and along with the many Ex-Pats, it has more of a feel like Singapore or even Miami Beach in places with its many shopping gallerias, marinas, billion dollar hotels, beaches etc, including the 7 star iconic .
Here is a sunrise photo taken from the ship of part of the Dubai Skyland, shortly before we got off the ship at 7:45am. The city had a bit of haze over it, and like some of the other Emirates in the desert, I wasn’t sure if it was from the lack of rain and sandy conditions, or in Dubai from smog or both. The haze seemed to clear up a bit in the afternoon, making for a clearer blue sky.
Here are a few photo galleries from our day in Dubai, starting with the QE2 Ship/Hotel.
The Queen Elizabeth 2 Hotel
Dubai City Photos:
And still in Dubai in a Day, here is a gallery of the Dubai old and new cities, Palm Beach with it’s many 5+ star resorts, Blue Waters and the Marina Point area among other pics.
We had a wonderful day in Dubai and while we obviously couldn’t see everything, we at least got a nice overview of the city and it’s many things to offer.