It was grey and raining when we docked in Ketchikan on day two of the cruise. I had not booked any excursions as I suspected that I would need catch-up time for both sleeping and writing. Several nights of going to bed well after midnight and waking up as usual around 6:30 or 7 am, meant that I had accumulated quite a sleep deficit. I know I do best on 7 to 8 hours sleep a night, and with the energy I had been expending on my dancing, adequate sleep was even more important.
So my plan was to have my dance lesson early at the usual time, and then go ashore for a bit, come back and actually take a nap. But the best-laid plans...
On a previous cruise I found an incredibly cool site where you can track the progress of your ship. The big red dot is where we are on this day and time.
My day started off well with a dance lesson in the Wheelhouse Bar. I had planned to continue the Dance Boot Camp that began in Vancouver last week by keeping up with lessons most days on this cruise. We set objectives for this week as always at the start of the dance camps. Apart from generally improving my level of dance, my big problem area is that important thing - learning to follow. So that encompasses everything from frame and posture to spatial awareness and learning to wait and not anticipate. It seems to me that it should be sooooo much easier than it is. But I have never been a follower type and it's hard for me to relinquish control.
Check out the picture. See why I have difficulty following?
I decided to take the opportunity to take photos as everyone looked so glamorous in their formal wear. However I think I must have altered a camera setting as they were not as good as I usually expect. Later that evening I reset the camera to factory settings and that semed to have improved things a bit.
Although I have lived in Vancouver for more than 30 years and often watched the cruise ships leaving our port to journey North, I have never until now, cruised to Alaska. In view of my current determination not to take a cruise unless I get to dance every night, I was really happy to see that this year the dance group with which I have cruised a lot was doing the Inside Passage cruise starting in Vancouver.
So lucky me, instead of a plane ride, I had a short taxi ride to the Vancouver cruise ship terminal and there she was, the Sapphire Princess, ready for me just to walk on board.
After two days exploring the city of Dubai with its towering skyscrapers and golden sand beaches, I checked out of the Grand Hyatt Hotel and my friend Laila came to fetch me for the drive to Abu Dhabi. Depending on where you are going the distance is about 120 km and the road is straight and in excellent condition so the driving time at a reasonable speed is about an hour and a half. For long stretches of road, all you see is sand and scrub, and it is incredible to think how these cities have risen out of the desert.
Several people have commented after reading my earlier posts, that they had only a vague concept of where Dubai and Abu Dhabi are so I thought I would post a couple of maps to set the stage. Here are the outlines of the cities of Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
After tasting Lebanese, Chinese, Indian, and various other Middle eastern foods in Dubai, it was time for a different range of culinary experiences in Abu Dhabi and I had only two days to try them out.
On my first morning we decided to take it easy and have a leisurely start to the day, so our first stop at the Emirates Palace Hotel was close to lunch time. We wandered through the luxurious interior of the hotel and then went out to wander through the grounds.
By lunch time we decided to sample some of the high tea items on the menu at Le Cafe, one of the coffee shops in the lobby of the hotel.
An early High Tea at the Le Cafe in the Emirates Palace Hotel
Both of us decided to try one of the specialty coffees. After some debate I chose the Emirates Palace Cappuccino: This is described as a rich espresso topped with frothy fresh milk and decorated with 24 carat gold flakes.
As we toured around the city of Dubai, my friend told me that there were excellent examples of cuisine, both Middle Eastern and International, to be found here. We were determined to sample as many as possible different cuisines in the limited time we had. The three restaurants I visited in Dubai were Wafi Gourmet (featuring Lebanese cuisine) in Dubai Mall, Zheng He's Restaurant featuring Chinese fusion cuisine in Madinat Jumeirah and Khan al Murjan restaurant (featuring Egyptian, Lebanese, Moroccan and Turkish cuisine) at Wafi mall.
Wafi Gourmet at Dubai Mall
This meal was with our group of 7 DancersAtSea cruisers who took an afternoon tour with a guide from Arabian Adventures. We had dinner at Wafi Gourmet at the Dubai Mall opposite the spectacular Dubai Fountain.
On my second day in Dubai, I was lucky to enjoy being shown around the city by my friend Laila who lives in Abu Dhabi and came to Dubai to take me to Abu Dhabi for a visit with her family. Our plan for the day in Dubai was to spend some time in the Jumeirah area and in the afternoon to visit the Gold and Spice Souks in the older part of the city.
The Madinat Jumeirah Resort is a spectacular resort location which features three hotels, Mina A' Salaam (Harbour of Peace), Al Qasr (The Palace) Hotel and Dar Al Masjaf with rooms arranged like courtyard houses.
We spent some time wandering around the Madinat Jumeirah Souk. I found some bracelets and a small jeweled camel to buy for my grand-daughter.
The Abra (water taxi) tours through the waterways of Madinat Jumeirah are 20 minute rides that leave every 20 minutes from the Souk Abra stations near the restaurants of Toscana and Barzar.
It was scorchingly hot which gave us a great excuse to indulge in some ice-cream from the local vendor.
After 16 wonderful nights about the Queen Mary 2 on the Hong Kong to Dubai segment of the world cruise, we arrived in the port of Dubai early in the morning. A group of us from Dancers at Sea had booked a two day post-cruise stay in Dubai. The disembarkation and transfer to the Grand Hyatt Hotel was relaxed and easy, and by noon we were checked in and settled in our rooms.
The hotel is quite spectacular - towering ceilings, marble and gold everywhere. It was our first indication of the general design and architecture of the public buildings in Dubai. Even the giant malls are marble, glass and gold, with boutiques featuring all the big names in fashion, design, shoes, jewelery.
Cochin or Kochi, is a port city in the Arabian Sea, on the west coast of India in the state of Kerala. The name Kochi translates to "small lagoon" in Mayalam. Mayalam is the local language in Kerala, derived from Sanskrit and Tamil and is one of 22 official languages of India. It is one of the 85 related Dravidian languages, spoken by 215 million people. Amazing what one learns when going on a ballroom dance cruise!
Anyway I signed up for an excursion that featured two highlights - the Chinese Fishing Nets of Cochin, and an introductory demonstration of Kathakali (the classical dance drama of Kerala) and Kalaripayattu, the ancient martial art of Kerala. Check out the links below to my four YouTube videos of these highlights.