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russg140

19-Night Holy Land and Arabian Gems LIVE

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Aloha Russg140, Mahalo for sharing your experiences, we board the Encore in 40+ days and enjoy hearing what’s going on onboard.

From a fellow Empire Stater who traded snow for surf.

 

Willi

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9 hours ago, SLSD said:

Fletcher, I have a question for you.  Do the more expensive ships like the Lindblad NG Explorer and the Ponant ship also include all the amenities of the Quest and Seabourn?  

 

Just curious as I have heard of them, but have not explored what they have to offer.  

 As far as I know, Lindblad NG and Ponant include all meals, gratuities, open bar (inc. champagne but not premium brands) and all the zodiac excursions.  You would need to fly to Ushuaia for these ships whereas the Quest routes are much longer to/from BA/Santiago.   I wouldn't describe the Explorer as a luxury ship like the Quest but the Ponant ships look fabulous. Here's one in Ushuaia -

DSC_0181.jpg

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On 11/4/2018 at 4:56 PM, frantic36 said:

Enjoying your reports russg140. I haven't done this itinerary yet and I am especially interested in your experiences with private guides as we prefer to do private tours.

 

Julie

 

Julie

 

We’ve done two private tours so far with another one planned for tomorrow in Abu Dhabi (courtesy of our TA).  Both times we had the same issue: the driver we were using did not have authorization to enter the port, causing us a bit of angst.  Just confirm with whichever company you select that the guide will meet you AT the ship.  That will help you avoid any problems.

 

To be honest the SB tours we’ve done have been pretty good in general.  The overnight Jerusalem excursion was exceptional.

 

Russ

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19 hours ago, basor said:

 

JMI - We were planning on going to Antarctica on a "smaller" ship but after comparing routing, time spent ashore in Antarctica, cabin, what is included in the price and the price......we chose to go on the Quest and it was the absolutely best decision.   We left Buenos Aires the middle of January for a 21 day cruise ending in Santiago.  When traveling to Antarctica , Quest only carries 380 passengers and has an expedition team of 12.  The enrichment lectures, the landings and the zodiac trips (now kayak too) were outstanding.  Our cruise on Seabourn was the same price as a 10-11 day cruise on a smaller ship and we spent 1 more day in Antarctica.  We also walked off the ship with no bill - so actually ended up being less expensive (no bar bill, no gratuities, etc.).   I encourage you to look at Seabourn when you begin your investigation of a trip to Antarctica.

 

Basor

 

We’ll definitely keep that in mind.  Thanks for your advice!  It seems that Antarctica is a/the new hotspot. So we’ll see where things stand in 2 years.

 

Russ

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Thank you everyone for letting me know you’re out there 😁!

 

Yesterday we were in Muscat, Oman- our second Omani port.  We arrived late morning (around 10) and didn’t leave until 11:00p.m.

 

We took a SB excursion “Dolphin Watch and Snorkel”.  We were told repeatedly that seeing dolphins was not guaranteed.  Well, they were right; we didn’t see any.  In all honesty the Captain on the boat did look for 45 minutes, but the seas were fairly rough.  Not sure the water was conducive to dolphin watching.  Personally I thought we were going to be swimming in an area frequented by dolphins (how cool would that be?!).  My bad.  After searching we were taken to a sheltered cove and went snorkeling, which was pretty terrific, for about 45 minutes.

 

After a pretty bumpy ride we got back to the dock then on to the bus for the short ride to the ship with a quick stop to snap some photos of the Sultan’s Palace.  We were back onboard and having lunch at The Patio by 3:15, which was the time it seems all the other tours got back because it was really crowded.  Ordered a Napa burger, which was perfectly cooked, and afterward just chilled for the rest of the afternoon.

 

Our drive to the harbor took us past the souvenir shops, which we opted to pass on. I found out today, from a crew member who ventured into town, that there really wasn’t a lot to buy, unless you wanted an “Aladdin” style lamp.  Don’t know if the genie is included or extra - LOL!

 

The Colonnade has an Arabian Market dinner offered, but my husband prefers table service over buffets for dinner, so we enjoyed dining with some of our new friends in The Restaurant.

 

 I know I’ve mentioned the phenomenal service, but I also wanted to point out another area where Seabourn, or I should say Seabourn guests, really shines: Everyone is so friendly both staff and guests.  We’ve never been on a cruise where the guests almost always say hello or good morning, to a fault.  At night in the Observation Lounge there’s always a lot of laughter and camaraderie, which just makes things so much more fun.

 

Today was a relaxing day at sea, but we did attend the lecture by the onboard UNESCO Specialist on the Abu Dhabi Louvre.  It was an hour, but the lecturer (who we sat next to 2 nights ago at dinner), was so enthusiastic and energetic about the museum that I’m now really looking forward to going to see it.

 

We arrive tomorrow morning at 6:30 and are required to participate in a face to face meeting for immigration for the UAE.

 

Since we only have 3 days left - can you believe it?  I can’t!  I’m already putting my CC Review together in my head.  Also, I’ll be creating a YouTube video of the journey after we get home and will post a link for it here. Since there are SO many videos of the ship, the video will focus almost exclusively on the ports and excursions.

 

Hopefully I will have it done before the holidays.  You can check out videos from other cruises I posted by searching YouTube using Russ Gibson as the search term.

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Another great report russg140.  I enjoy these live reports most of all.  I've decided to take my laptop on our May cruise and do a live day by day report.  Narratives like yours have encouraged me.  Have a wonderful rest of your trip!  

 

(By the way, I'm like your husband and like table service best---even for breakfast.  I'm often one of the few in the MDR for breakfast, while my husband goes to "feed at the trough" as one of our past cruise friends put it!  I don't believe that--but heard him say it many times. ) 

 

 

Edited by SLSD

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I hope that you enjoy the Louvre,we were quite impressed. Nice to hear that you're enjoying the cruise so much. Definitely a great itinerary.

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Russg140 do they offer busses into Tel Aviv and Jerusalem from the ports or are we on our own to take tours or independent transportation into these places?  

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On 11/5/2018 at 9:08 PM, russg140 said:

 

Julie

 

We’ve done two private tours so far with another one planned for tomorrow in Abu Dhabi (courtesy of our TA).  Both times we had the same issue: the driver we were using did not have authorization to enter the port, causing us a bit of angst.  Just confirm with whichever company you select that the guide will meet you AT the ship.  That will help you avoid any problems.

 

To be honest the SB tours we’ve done have been pretty good in general.  The overnight Jerusalem excursion was exceptional.

 

Russ

 

Hi Russ,

 

Thanks for the extra information. I know in some ports drivers can find it hard to get port access, so if the driver is parked outside the gate is it far to walk to the gate and is this allowed or did you have to use a shuttle to get you to the gate?

 

I hope the last few days of the cruise have been good for you.

 

Julie

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4 hours ago, frantic36 said:

 

Hi Russ,

 

Thanks for the extra information. I know in some ports drivers can find it hard to get port access, so if the driver is parked outside the gate is it far to walk to the gate and is this allowed or did you have to use a shuttle to get you to the gate?

 

I hope the last few days of the cruise have been good for you.

 

Julie

Julie

 

In both Aqaba and Salalah the distance was fairly substantial.  Additionally, the access to the port is very restricted so you wouldn’t be able to just walk in and out.

 

In Aqaba we had to take a shuttle bus to the visitors center about 15 minutes away. In Salalah another driver, who was aware of the situation, drove us to meet out driver.  Coming back, in Aqaba we hitched a ride with a (rather surprised looking) bus of German tourists to get back in the port.  In Salalah our driver had a flashing light that somehow gave him access.

 

I’ll be posting our (fantastic) visit notes from Abu Dhabi today.

 

Let me know if you have any other questions.

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On 11/5/2018 at 8:28 PM, SLSD said:

Another great report russg140.  I enjoy these live reports most of all.  I've decided to take my laptop on our May cruise and do a live day by day report.  Narratives like yours have encouraged me.  Have a wonderful rest of your trip!  

 

(By the way, I'm like your husband and like table service best---even for breakfast.  I'm often one of the few in the MDR for breakfast, while my husband goes to "feed at the trough" as one of our past cruise friends put it!  I don't believe that--but heard him say it many times. ) 

 

 

 

SLSD

 

LOL!

 

i would agree with the “trough” analogy on every other cruise we’ve taken except this one.  I’ve yet to see some plate piled high to overflowing and plates with half the food still on it.  Since everything is so well prepared I think there is greater reluctance on guests part to waste it.

 

Russ

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7 hours ago, fdnycruiser said:

I hope that you enjoy the Louvre,we were quite impressed. Nice to hear that you're enjoying the cruise so much. Definitely a great itinerary.

 

FDNY

 

Abu Dhabi was amazing, and we were lucky that, after our private tour, we are able to spend a couple of hours in the museum.  Others were only able to drive by.

 

The itinerary has beyond exceeded our expectations.  See notes about our experience below.

 

Russ

 

p.s.  Did you work for the FDNY?  We live in Hudson, which is the home to the FASNY Museum and Retirement community.

Edited by russg140
Added information

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5 hours ago, Corony said:

Russg140 do they offer busses into Tel Aviv and Jerusalem from the ports or are we on our own to take tours or independent transportation into these places?  

 

Hmmm.

 

I know SB offers (paid) excursions to Jerusalem.  Tel Aviv I’m not sure about.  Haifa is a good distance to both.  Ashdod a little less so.

 

There were certainly plenty of taxis in every port who you can hire to take you there.

 

Hope that helps.

 

Russ

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Amazing Abu Dhabi.

 

After our serene day at sea we were excited to visit Abu Dhabi, having heard so much about it.  Our TA offered us a 4-hour tour, which we gladly accepted.  Our driver and guide were right outside the terminal and off we went.

 

Our first stop was the Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque.  On the ride there ourguide, told us about the history of modern Abu Dhabi and the importance of Sheik Zayed to the USE and initiating change in AD.  He spoke with a true reverence.

 

We came upon the Grand Mosque in the near distance and it was breathtaking; gleaming white in the morning sun.  The beauty of the architecture and the detail of the design and craftsmanship is mind boggling.  Not to wax poetic but words can’t begin to do the GM justice.

 

IMPORTANT NOTE: The UAE takes the dress code in the Mosque very seriously. Very.  Men need to wear long pants and long sleeves, women must be fully covered, including your head.  They do sell coverups outside the Mosque, but I understand they were very pricey.  So when you pack make sure to bring a scarf or plan on buying one in Oman.

 

Our next stop was the Royal Abu Dhabi Hotel.  With average room rates at $3000US/night (the Grand Suites sell for $30,000US/night (no, that’s not a typo).  Let’s just say this place exudes wealth.  Friends went for afternoon tea and spent $30US for 2 cappuccinos (one with gold flake on top - seriously!).  Oh, that price didn’t include the service charge or tax!  The hotel is owned by the Royal Family, so it’s not like they need the money.

 

Our third stop was the AD “Heritage Village”, a recreation of an historic Bedouin village from AD’s past that quite honestly this was a bit disappointing; shops selling local wares wasn’t what we were after.  People were buying things, so if that’s your thing you might enjoy it.

 

Fourth on our tour was a drive through the “wealthy” (haha!) part of AD on our way to a desolate area that is being developed as part of the Aby Dhabi 2030 master plan.  The neighborhood we drove through included the Royal Palace (well, one of them at least).  Suffice it to say AD has money.

 

Prior to being dropped off at the Louvre Abu Dhabi we stopped at the date market and sampled numerous types of dates (there were over 30 available) and were offered a traditional coffee brewed with saffron, turmeric and cardamom.  Interesting, but nothing I would want to bring back.  However we did buy a 1/2 kilo (1 lb) each of salted cashews and pistachios as well as chocolate covered dates.

 

As I just mentioned we asked to be dropped off at the Louvre AD.  The onboard speaker, Alessandra, held a talk on LAD and got us very excited to see it.  The structure itself is fascinating.  We opted to purchase the multimedia tour ($25US p.p., including admission).  You have several tour options from the whole collection to a 20 minute quick walkthrough.  We opted for the 60-minute overview, which was perfect for the amount of time we had.  Basically you go through each of the 12 “Chapters” (which is how the collection is arranged) and 2 pieces are discussed.  Truly we barely scratched the surface.

 

We hopped into a taxi and got back to the ship.  We missed lunch, so ordered room service.

 

At 6:00, the time we were scheduled to leave, they held a Seabourn Signature event: Deck Party with the ship’s officers and a farewell from the crew.  Plenty of nibbles available, cocktails and live music from the SB band.  Then came the farewell; always a sad moment in every cruise, but a great chance to cheer for all the wonderful people who made this voyage so spectacular.

 

After another delicious dinner in The Restaurant we enjoyed the final production show “It Takes Two” featuring the SB singers and dancers.  Great music and a lot of fun.

 

Today we’re in Sir Bani Yas (sp?) island, where SB is holding 2 Signature Events: Caviar in the Surf and Beach Barbecue.  I’ll recap those tomorrow, after we’ve disembarked 😔.

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I will be staying in Dhabi for a couple of days prior to hopping on your reversed itinerary.  Would you be able to provide me information in regards to booking your Abu Dhabi tour?  Thanks.

 

Edited by SwankPooch

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Yes Russ,I did work for FDNY for 28 years and retired in 2006. I know where Hudson is too,as we once lived in Brewster,NY. Enjoy the rest of your cruise !

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11 hours ago, SwankPooch said:

I will be staying in Dhabi for a couple of days prior to hopping on your reversed itinerary.  Would you be able to provide me information in regards to booking your Abu Dhabi tour?  Thanks.

 

 

SP

 

Our tour was booked by our TA, but I believe the tour company was Gulf Adventures. Our guide’s name was Yasin.  He was excellent!

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Greetings from Dubai!

 

Yesterday was an awesome day on Sir Bani Yas Island.  After breakfast we had a little time to hang out by the pool before taking the tender to shore at 11:15.  Essentially the beach was set up for use by cruise ships and has several seas with chaises, palapas and tables as well as a large shaded area for lunch.

 

Sitting in the water we heard a siren that got progressively louder.  A few minutes later we realized it was coming from an inflatable headed for the shore.  Of course this was announcing the arrival of the champagne and caviar!  Only Seabourn could make something like this exciting.

 

Not long after the corks were popping and people were wading into the water to have a little nibble.  SO much fun!  The beach barbecue was fantastic as well.  Proper china, silverware and napkins accompanied everything from burgers to grilled lobster.  Of course there were a couple of bars set up and everyone was enjoying their beverage of choice.

 

The sun was really strong, but as long as you stayed in the shade (like we did) you were okay.  The last thing we needed was to get sunburnt on our last day.  We headed back to the ship to begin the disappointing task of packing.

 

We enjoyed a final evening in the Observation Lounge and a wonderful dinner in the Restaurant.  This morning we were up and finished with breakfast by 8:15.  The disembarkation announcement was made at 8:45.  We said goodbye to Encore and are now lounging on the beach at the Waldorf Astoria Palm Jumeira.

 

So kind readers ends my Seabourn journey.  I hope I was able to convey at least a small part of how exceptional this trip was at every level.  As I mentioned before I will post the link to my YouTube video here once it is finished.  Thanks for coming on this adventure with me.  Happy Sailing!

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Thank you for taking the trouble to do this. Really enjoyed your posts and glad you had a great cruise.

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Thanks Russ for all the extra information. I will enjoy checking out the link to your video. 

 

Enjoy the last few days of your holiday and safe travels home.

 

Julie

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Thank you Russ for letting us follow along with you.  You have helped us to make some decisions about our shore ventures next May.  Please enjoy the rest of your vacation.

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On 11/3/2018 at 7:21 PM, russg140 said:

 

Yesterday we were in Salalah, Oman, with an early afternoon departure scheduled for 2:00.  We booked a private tour and our fingers were crossed that we would have a better experience than we had in Aqaba.  

Thanks for all the information.

What company did you use in Salalah ?

Edited by Tranquility Base

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