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megavfm

Shadow, Dubai to Piraeus, 26 April-11 May

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Hi from Voyage 3910. I'm just curious to see how long it takes to upload a picture (2mb) to this site (05.46 local time in Salalah).

 

Maybe fellow pax who are better wordsmiths than I will add commentary.

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Gee, 4 mins

 

Leaving Dubai Pic 1 (2.2mb) QEII hotel in middle distance and Burj Khalifa to the left in the distance. Pic 2 1.4mb.....about the same time!?

 

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waiting for room service breakfast, so might as well try some more.

Khasab: Pic 1; village on a ridge on approach to port. Pic 2; Shadow docks to the right and the SS dhow cruise starts about 200m from the berth, whereas the other private dhow cruises start from the other side of the port.  We did a private dhow cruise (Pics 3&4) thru 'Dhow Khasab Tours' for a fraction of the SS cost. Only rated #8 on TA at the time of booking - should be higher I think; delivered as advertised - picked up by 09.00 and was driven to other side of the port, left port ~09.30 and returned to where the SS dhow cruises moored ~20+mins prior to departure (a bit fine for comfort, but at lest we made it!), plenty of fruit and cold & hot drinks onboard the dhow, got to see a pod of 3 dolphins and did some snorkelling, only 10 pax onboard compared to lots on the SS dhow cruise.  ~8mb of pics - 12mins to upload! Signing off - time to do other things!

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Posted (edited)

Looking forward to your reports from this voyage - we will be doing the same itinerary in reverse next year. 

 

If you are using an android phone there is a free app called QReduceLite that resizes photos. I use it to reduce the file size from the original 5mb or so down to 500kb. Loads 10 times faster and the loss of quality is minimal. 

Edited by Tothesunset

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Fair Winds and Following Seas for your Shadow voyage, enjoy your cruise.

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Thanks for the tip TTS. I’ve been using MS Paint to resize on my tablet; I’ll just further downsize.

Thanks Stumblefoot and WesW– also appreciated you recent posts on the Shadow.

Thanks Silver Spectre - great topical thread last year.

 

Tendered into Sur (Pic 1). Not much to do here; just 1 SS excursion offered - “Highlights of Sur”. The feedback I received from other pax was that there were not too many highlights!  SS ran shuttles into the souq, which was a small area of street front shops mostly selling women’s clothes or gold & silver. They were constructing a small section of covered pathways, Pic 2&3.

 

We caught the first tender in and out. A handful of people took one look at the souq and just stayed on the shuttle to go back to the dock!  One of the enrichment lecturers was quite candid when she said some say the term “emerging destinations” (eg. Sur) is a euphemism for “don’t expect too much”!  We were in Khasab from 08.00 – 13.00 and in Sur from 10.00 – 19.00; I think it should have been revered or leave Sur out completely.

 

I’m not too sure whether I will post after Salalah, as Aqaba & Safaga have been well covered last year by Silver Spectre’s Athens to Muscat thread, TLCOhio’s Live/Nautica’s thread and Randyk47’s blog – they were all a great source of pre-cruise info.  Also, I’m not sure if the web really needs more photos (from me at least) of Petra and Luxor. Let’s wait and see; got to first get through the International recommended transit corridor through the Gulf of Aden.  Should be fine, but as one of the trivia teams have called themselves – “ship happens”.

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10 hours ago, megavfm said:

  We did a private dhow cruise (Pics 3&4) thru 'Dhow Khasab Tours' for a fraction of the SS cost. Only rated #8 on TA at the time of booking - should be higher I think; delivered as advertised - picked up by 09.00 and was driven to other side of the port, left port ~09.30 and returned to where the SS dhow cruises moored ~20+mins prior to departure (a bit fine for comfort, but at lest we made it!), plenty of fruit and cold & hot drinks onboard the dhow, got to see a pod of 3 dolphins and did some snorkelling, only 10 pax onboard compared to lots on the SS dhow cruise.  

 

What an exciting voyage you are taking! Thanks for your persistence with your uploads. Thanks, too, for this tip on the private dhow excursion in Khasab. I’ll be on a similar itinerary next March on the Spirit, and eagerly await your stories and suggestions!

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I will be eagerly following along as well, as we are doing a similar cruise in 2020!

Thanks for posting and enjoy your cruise.

And yes, concur that uploading photos is so time consuming!

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Posted (edited)
18 hours ago, Tothesunset said:

Looking forward to your reports from this voyage - we will be doing the same itinerary in reverse next year. 

 

If you are using an android phone there is a free app called QReduceLite that resizes photos. I use it to reduce the file size from the original 5mb or so down to 500kb. Loads 10 times faster and the loss of quality is minimal. 

Are you looking at the Nov 2020 Piraeus to Dubai?  I may book that when I'm onboard this fall.

Edited by MHF

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1 hour ago, MHF said:

Are you looking at the Nov 2020 Piraeus to Dubai?  I may book that when I'm onboard this fall.

Yes, we have already booked that cruise. 

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Posted (edited)

We are also on this cruise after doing this same segment on the Muse last Oct.. I still do not know how we managed to do 2 cruises, almost exactly the same, in such a short time

One difference is that security is far more noticeable on this second cruise. We have 4, very noticeable in their black outfits, security personnel on board. At the moment we have 2, 1 on either wing of the bridge on watch and a further 2 SS crew members postitioned Port and Starboard at the stern of the ship on deck 8, keeping a lookout, which has been closed off at the stern. We have also had a security exercise when everyone had to leave all outside decks and then we were meant to sit on the floor in the internal companionways but they let us off the sitting due to the average age of passengers and the difficulty many would have getting back up. Normal night security rules apply from 10pm and the Indian Navy will soon be with us once again

The condition of the Shadow leaves much to be desired and all areas are very tired. The dry dock later this year cannot be soon enough.

The food on board with the new excellent menu in the MDR is outstanding and so far the wines on offer have been very good

Lots of new crew but as always all very efficient

Edited by beaujolais

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3 hours ago, beaujolais said:

We are also on this cruise after doing this same segment on the Muse last Oct.. I still do not know how we managed to do 2 cruises, almost exactly the same, in such a short time

One difference is that security is far more noticeable on this second cruise. We have 4, very noticeable in their black outfits, security personnel on board. At the moment we have 2, 1 on either wing of the bridge on watch and a further 2 SS crew members postitioned Port and Starboard at the stern of the ship on deck 8, keeping a lookout, which has been closed off at the stern. We have also had a security exercise when everyone had to leave all outside decks and then we were meant to sit on the floor in the internal companionways but they let us off the sitting due to the average age of passengers and the difficulty many would have getting back up. Normal night security rules apply from 10pm and the Indian Navy will soon be with us once again

The condition of the Shadow leaves much to be desired and all areas are very tired. The dry dock later this year cannot be soon enough.

The food on board with the new excellent menu in the MDR is outstanding and so far the wines on offer have been very good

Lots of new crew but as always all very efficient

Hope you enjoy the slightly different itinerary, sorry to hear the Shadow is tired. The look and feel of the Whisper is now much better.

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I am on the Shadow in October (last cruise before the DD) so am curious as to what makes it seems ‘tired’?

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4 hours ago, Silver Spectre said:

...sorry to hear the Shadow is tired.

I don't know about Wes and Doug, but we thought the Shadow was in fine shape just two short months ago.

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2 hours ago, Stumblefoot said:

I don't know about Wes and Doug, but we thought the Shadow was in fine shape just two short months ago.

 

+1

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Posted (edited)

My intention was to now withdraw a bit, as I didn’t really want to rehash what was so well covered in the 3 excellent threads/blogs that I referred to earlier. But given TTS’s, Unibok’s and Spin’s positive responses I’ll try to aim for stuff that mightn’t have been previously covered or I find a bit quirky, odd or of note. Thanks for jumping in Beaujolais and providing another perspective. I might wait to the end of the cruise to provide a personal opinion of the Shadow’s hardware and software.

 

But I can’t help myself to make one observation though. There was a bottle of Stella in our fridge. I don’t mind Stella, but I asked Ray (our butler and big shout out to him and Orly our room attendant) if there was any Grolsch beer – he came back later and said unfortunately not. So, I asked if there was Birra Moretti or Peroni and Ray dutifully returned to once again say unfortunately not and that their standard stock was Stella and some mainstream US beers. The same story in the bars when I tried. How can a cruise line with an Italian heritage not have Italian beer?! Anyway, in the overall scheme of things it’s a minor matter – just odd.  To Ray’s credit he managed to find me one bottle of Franziskaner Weissbier and some cans of Becks.

 

With respect to the 2020 journeys through this area, I notice both voyages bypass Sur and you get to visit the holy lands (I wish that opportunity was available with this cruise) – lucky you!  Interestingly, the March 2020 voyage doesn’t call into Safaga, but at least both cruises include Muscat, which we missed out on, as it featured in the previous sector.  However, SS have rewarded those on the 2021 expedition world tour itinerary with a 6+ hour stop in Sur during segment 7 – I hope for the pax’s sake that SS comes up with more things to do by that time.

 

Salalah: apparently, we got in a bit ahead of schedule and some noise awoke me (bow thruster? Anchor?) around 04.45. Got up and took some night shots of the place (I noticed Silver Spectre’s thread had some day shots). Thanks again TTS; a lot quicker to upload once I've reduced the photo sizes even further.  Took the SS ‘Serene Salalah’ tour and we thought it provided a pretty good oversight of the limited sights in Salalah accompanied by informative commentary from Salim, a local guide. Also, the tour price was relatively inexpensive compared to the SS Khasab tours.  Got back in time for lunch.

 

Finally for tonight; a couple of days ago a few pax reported seeing a pod of dolphins (50+ depending on who you spoke to) around lunchtime in the ship’s wake. Then this morning some reported seeing a whale in the distance. Of course, I missed all these sightings (no PA announcement; not a SS thing to do?). My consolation prize was to see some flying fish off our veranda. I thought they were small birds at first until they dived into the water and didn’t resurface..........

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Edited by megavfm
typo

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Stumblefoot and Unibook, concur 95%& except the veranda suites bathrooms look is very tired but they are clean and functional.  Moreover, in the Shadow bathrooms Silversea provided luxurious towels, conversely on the Muse the towels were much to thin.

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WOW I have tried so hard to get a photo of a flying fish! Thanks so much for posting it.

 

As for the whale and dolphin sightings, I was told that in general,  the Captain will not announce because by the time he or she does, the "sight" is gone.

 

And Megavfm, thanks for posting on your experiences aboard.   

 

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You’re welcome Spins. I hope you manage to spot them during your transit through the Gulf of Aden. By the time I realised what I was seeing and then retrieving my camera I missed the only time when a school of them flew along. After that I only noticed solitary sightings over 30 mins or so.

 

I’m going a bit backwards here (maybe forward if you’re on the November 2020 cruise), but just a bit about Dubai.

If you’re organising your own transfers to the Port Rashid cruise terminal then I’d like to convey that using Uber was no problem (I had read that taxis were reluctant to take credit cards, but can't confirm if that's true. I also didn't want to exchange any money into AED, as we had no plans to return to Dubai anytime soon. We only over-nighted in Dubai). Unintentionally, I possibly short-changed the fare estimate as I entered ‘Port Rashid Cruise Terminal’ as the destination in the app. Basically this is just the entrance to the port, whereas the Shadow was docked further into the port at Port Rashid Cruise Terminal 2 & 3. Unfortunately, I can’t provide any info about catching Uber from DXB direct to the Cruise terminal or vice versa.

 

Unibok, further re: Dhow cruises in Khasab. I think the company that SS uses for its own marketed dhow tour is ‘Khasab Travel & Tours’ (KTT); SS cost was US$129. When we exited the (small) cruise terminal there were a couple of spruikers representing various dhow cruise companies. Dhow Khasab Tours (DKT) wasn’t amongst them, but KTT was. They weren’t aggressive, but the KTT chap was persistent to a degree in trying to get us onto his dhow.  I suppose we were targeted because we were loitering around for our driver, as we got to the exit around 08.30 since we were informed we would be picked up by 09.00.  If one wanted to play it safe in terms of getting back to the ship in time (we only had a 5 hr stop in Khasab with departure at 13.00) then the ‘official’ SS tour would be the way to go. One could also consider booking direct with KTT, as it might be cheaper or haggle with them at the exit of the terminal.

 

A cautionary tale: most of the SS arranged tours had departed by 08.30 and so we were the only couple hanging around outside together with one other couple (a few more people later drifted into the terminal in prep for 09.00 shuttle into town). They said they had been there since just after 08.00 as they had arranged a private tour of Khasab and its forts and were told the pick-up time was 08.00. Anyway, when our driver (Mahmout who spoke good English) turned up just before 09.00 he asked if the other couple we were talking with was with us and we told him of their plight. Even though they hadn’t booked with DKT, he used his cell phone to call their tour operator (turned out to be a Dubai number) and asked for their local agent’s number – they said they would text it to him. We then left for the other side of the port and Mahmout then tried to call the local operator afterwards.  I was impressed that he went out of his way to try to assist this couple who hadn’t even booked with his company.  We bumped into the couple after our return and they said despite Mahmout’s effort their guide still didn’t turn up.  Additionally, they had paid upfront (another +ve for DKT was that we just paid on commencement of the dhow cruise and they accepted cash in , £, US$, AED or OMR). Sadly, the other couple engaged a company that they had previously successfully used in Egypt, but was let down on this occasion (in case the tour operator also peruses CC, I won’t name them as I have no wish to be trolled, but they do rate reasonably well on TA, for Egypt at least).  Oh, FYI: there were a couple of stalls selling local trinkets set up on entry into the terminal building. I kept walking by, but from what I could quickly gather they only accepted OMR.

 

We’ve got through the Gulf of Aden and have entered the southern part of the Red Sea. Some white caps around, but still generally quite smooth onboard, especially when wandering around midship. When underway and even in smooth conditions, I’ve noticed some vibration when seated in La Terrazza and the Show lounge. I could also feel it when seated at The Grill.  Not at a level of annoyance or nausea-inducing, just occasionally distracting. Also, a noticeable “wobble” when underway even in smooth conditions (different to a pitch or roll, feels more like a buffeting feeling) in the forward cabin that we have. I think somewhere along the Bab al Mandad Strait, Pic1; reef off Djibouti, Pic2; Yemeni coastline 

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I thought beaujolais’s comments about the extra onboard security on this cruise compared to their previous recent passage through this area to be interesting, especially in light of below: 

After some initial reservations about security in the Giza area, which I expressed in the roll call, we decided to book the mid-voyage overland tour, which despite its expense covered a number of bucket list items (both Luxor & Karnak temples, Queen Nefatari’s tomb, the Pyramids & Syphnx and the Cairo Egyptian museum of antiquities) in a short space of time and goodness knows when we would return to the region.  Several days before departure we were notified by SS that “Due to security concerns we have changed Day 3 of your itinerary. In order to offer you the best possible experience and with keeping your safety at the forefront, Day 3 will now include a visit to Aswan, Philae Temple and Nubian Museum.”  Well, that is not near enough a substitute for the Cairo highlights (although to be fair what would be an adequate alternative?).  A number of other roll callers expressed similar disappointment, especially as none of us could determine any change in official travel advice to Egypt from the US, UK, Australian governments, etc.  Anyway, we cancelled our booking and as advised by our SS cruise consultant our money was refunded. It appears, however, that there’s still enough pax for this modified tour to still proceed.

 

The problem for us was that as the change notice was so close to departure that the best of the tours out of Safaga had a wait list. There’s the cheaper Luxor temple, Valley of the Kings and photo stops tour or the more expensive and extensive Karnak temple, Queen Nefatari tomb (that from the expert destination presentation is IMHO a ‘must do’ if possible), Nile cruise lunch, Valley of the Kings and photo stops tour.

 

As we wanted some certainty, we booked a private tour of Karnak temple & Valley of the Kings, but I couldn’t readily find one that included Queen Nefatari’s tomb. As it turned out the wait list for the Karnak temple tour cleared today, but we had already paid for our private tour!  Oh well, c’est la vie…… oh, just looked at the BBC’s weather forecast for Luxor on 6 May – 420C! It’s been very warm to hot during this cruise so hopefully weather during the March 2020 cruise will be a bit milder.

 

Anyway, I suggest you have a plan B if SS offer and you book this mid-voyage tour during the November 2020 sailing, just in case there are last minute changes to the itinerary. As the March 2020 cruise doesn’t include Safaga, I wonder if SS might offer something different like some extravaganza where they fly you from AQB to LUX and then onto CAI to visit the various sites; once again I suggest having a plan B if you sign up for it.

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1 hour ago, megavfm said:

Anyway, I suggest you have a plan B if SS offer and you book this mid-voyage tour during the November 2020 sailing, just in case there are last minute changes to the itinerary. As the March 2020 cruise doesn’t include Safaga, I wonder if SS might offer something different like some extravaganza where they fly you from AQB to LUX and then onto CAI to visit the various sites; once again I suggest having a plan B if you sign up for it.

 

Thank you for all of this great information and insight, megavfm! I especially appreciate what your follow up on Khasab. As for the March 2020 sailing, I'm not yet seeing any mid-land trips ... but it might be too early for SS to release them. My sense is that our big event won't be in Egypt, but rather the 3 days in Israel: 1 day in Ashdod (Jerusalem) and 2 in Haifa (Tel Aviv). I do appreciate your sane warnings on mid-land tours in this region. 

 

Please know how much I appreciate your taking the time to post and share.

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YESSSSS

thanks so very much for the details. 

 

DH wants to visit the Weitzmann Institute for Science.

He has been to this part of the world before.

It will be new for me, with the exception of Pireaus.

 

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Re the flying fish ... when on the 0400 x 0800 watch the Indian lookout used to go for his break and whilst gone he went on deck, collected the ‘still flapping’ flying fish, gave them to the Indian cook who had them popped into the tandoor, and served on the bridge with a fresh chapatti or two.

I miss those impromptu breakfasts ☹️

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