Muscat, Oman Van Tour

Lirica arriving in Muscat

Cruise ships share the port in Muscat with industrial uses so people are not allowed to walk through the port. Excursion busses meet at the ship and there are free shuttles to take other passengers to the port entrance. MSC Lirica passed out landing cards to passengers in lieu of a visa that would otherwise be required for entry into Oman through that port. This was standard for all of our port stops in Oman as they don’t require visas for cruise ship passengers from some countries where visas are required from other tourists.

sultan’s palace

There were a few taxi or van tours available at the port. There were not many and these were unwilling to negotiate for a better price than they were asking. There were a lot of taxis and vans just outside the port gates, and the price for these was negotiable. Prices were per vehicle and time at this port rather than per person so the more people who grouped together the less each one had to pay. We got together with 4 other people and got the price down from $50 per hour to $40 so the total cost for a 4 hour tour was just $160, or less than $30 each for the 6 of us. It was in euros, so a little more than dollars, but a whole lot less than if it were in Omani rials since euros are only worth a bit more than dollars, but rials are worth more than double.

Grand Mosque

First we went to the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque. It was enormous. It looked new, but was built in traditional style and quite ornate. Sultan Qaboos reigned from July of 1970 until he died in January of 2020. During that time he built many things for his country including the grand mosque, which is the largest in Oman and was completed in 2001. Using all the different areas it can hold up to 20,000 worshipers.

you can look, but don’t touch these holy books at the grand mosque

Conservative clothing is recommended for going anywhere in Oman, but for mosques they are even more particular, especially for women. Our ship’s literature said everyone had to wear long sleeves, but they did let men into the mosque with short sleeves. Not so for women. Long pants (or skirts) were required of everyone, and head scarves for the women. I did have a scarf in my purse just in case I needed it for anything. I hadn’t brought anything with long sleeves though. We hadn’t planned on going inside a mosque, but since we were on a tour with other people we ended up doing so.

mosque worthy clothing

Outside of the mosque underneath a sign saying not to sell or rent clothing there was a guy with the trunk of his car full of clothes which he rented for $5 to women so they could enter the mosque. He was one of many. I got a long-sleeved full length coat sort of thing and one of the other women we were with got a scarf as the one she brought didn’t cover enough to meet with approval by the person at the door who checks everyone who enters. If you don’t have proper clothing they won’t let you in. Our dinner companions on the ship took a taxi tour and said their own taxi driver provided clothes for them to wear into the mosque. There were racks of clothes just in front of the entrance where they checked to see if people were dressed properly, but since we passed inspection I did not investigate whether those were for sale or rent.

leave shoes here

Some places inside the mosque required the removal of shoes. There were racks of shoe cubbies outside the doorways of these areas to put them in. You don’t necessarily come out the same door you go in, and there are multiple alcoves with shoe racks so it is very important to remember where exactly you left your shoes if you ever want to find them again. We went in 2 such rooms. Large open rooms with no furniture.

smaller plainer room in the mosque

There was no furniture anywhere that we saw in the mosque. The second room was far more ornate than the first. We assumed the smaller and plainer room was for the women and the larger and fancier one for the men. It had holy books in little niches along one wall, which people were not allowed to touch. The floor was carpeted, with trails of plastic set over it for the visitors to walk on. It had giant ornate chandeliers in the ceiling.

large fancy room in the mosque

Restrooms were of the Chinese style squat toilets, but at least these were clean. BYOP though. (Bring your own paper.) The sign for the men’s said restroom, but the women’s sign said ladies ablution place. They have cleansing rituals or ablutions to perform before prayer, but these apply to men as well as women.

fountain at the mosque

The mosque covered a lot of ground, mostly outside and some places had gardens. Unlike many desert countries, water is not scarce in Oman. This mosque also had fountains.

polishing the floor outside the opera house

Next we went to an opera house. It cost 9 euro to go inside so we just wandered around the outside for a bit since nobody in our van wanted to pay to go in. There was a guy driving a little cleaning or polishing machine around on the courtyard tile that reminded me of a zamboni in an ice skating rink.

viewpoint on our tour

Muscat’s Royal Opera House is the main venue for arts and culture in Oman. It has  educational programs as well as performances. It was built on the orders of Sultan Qaboos and holds up to 1,100 people. The opera house complex contains a concert theater, auditorium, formal landscaped gardens, retail market, restaurants and an art center.

beach

We drove past a big beach and then went a few places for photo stops with views of the sea or marinas. Nestled in a little cove we saw a resort called Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort, which we could see only from a distance as we drove by.

Sultan’s palace

Last we went to the sultan’s palace, official residence of the monarch of the Sultanate of Oman. The sultan has fleet of yachts, some of which are big enough to be small cruise ships themselves.

gate at the sultan’s palace

The palace grounds where people were allowed was quite expansive, with views through the gate of a fancy entryway. I’d imagine there are private grounds as well where nobody can see them.

chandeliers in the big room at the mosque

We had planned to walk around the old town and visit the Muttrah souk, a famous shopping bazaar/flea market, but about the time we were leaving the palace it started to rain. Before we got back to town the rain turned into a downpour, the roads into rivers. None of us wanted to walk around in that so we just went back to the port entry where we had found the tour. Someone we talked to later on the ship said they had been at the souk when the rain came and it flooded. They had to walk out in water above their ankles.

There were shuttles waiting by the port entry so we got on without difficulty, but MSC is not very efficient getting people on and off the ship and of course many people returned when the downpour started. It was like a cattle call with way too many people all trying to squeeze under two little shelter tents. Most cruise lines let people in or out in a continuous stream, but MSC only allows a small group at a time on the gangway so it takes quite a long time to get people through the door. Meanwhile water poured between the little tents so if you got stuck standing in the bit of space between them you had a cold shower unless you could maneuver your way out from under the crack through the crowd.

sultan’s yachts docked at the port

All aboard time was 4:30, with departure scheduled at 5:00. We could see the gangway from our cabin on the ship. Time came and went and the gangway wasn’t lifted. A few lucky people squeaked in past all-aboard time from two HoHo busses with just a couple people each, and the same with a couple port shuttles. One of the officers paced up and down the gangway while talking to someone on the phone – likely about an excursion that hadn’t yet returned. Finally at 5:20, nearly an hour past all-aboard and 20 minutes beyond departure time a busload of people pulled in, a ship’s excursion returning late. Besides watching the late arrivals, from our cabin window we could also see what looked like a couple cruise ships, but they were actually two of the sultan’s yachts.

waiting for stragglers to return to the ship

Not getting left behind if you return late is the biggest benefit of booking shore excursions through the ship. If something goes wrong and you don’t make it back on time the ship waits. Not so for anyone venturing out on their own. There’s a number to call for help if you miss the ship, but financially catching up to it at the next port is all on you. The crew waiting outside hurried the late arrivals onboard and took down their shelter tents, but didn’t pull the gangway. Shortly after another late bus arrived. Perhaps a couple of the farther venturing excursions got stuck somewhere for awhile with impassible roads in the afternoon rain. At about 5:40 a third bus showed up and they finally pulled in the gangway so we were quite late leaving port. That probably cost the ship extra since they stayed nearly an hour past the scheduled departure time.

Grand Mosque

Copyright My Cruise Stories 2021
Posted in Lirica, Middle East, MSC, Port Cities, Ports of Call | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Camano Island Airbnb

Cabin on Camano Island

When looking for a place to book for a short getaway at a time when nobody knew when Covid vaccines would actually be available, somewhere at least somewhat isolated sounded a whole lot better than a visit to a city. Islands, mountains, or in unpopulated rural areas even beaches can fill that bill. In searching areas not too far away to keep with local travel, Camano Island seemed a perfect spot. While it is an island, it’s accessible by a bridge so no boat required. It’s largely rural with just a few businesses like stores and restaurants, and has beaches, forest, and two state parks.

cabins at Cama Beach State Park

I brought my mom with me on this trip as the getaway was a Christmas gift to her. By the time we actually went we had both received vaccines, but of course we hadn’t known if that would be the case at the time I booked the trip. I looked for an Airbnb to stay in, of the sort where you get the entire house to yourselves so we would not need to be in contact with anyone. I didn’t think Camano Island had any hotels, but google says it does. There’s also camping at the state parks. One of them has quite a few cabins, which are more or less just wooden tents since you have to bring everything including the bedding and the occupants use a shared public restroom. They’re also closer together than we wanted for this trip, so we stuck with looking for an Airbnb.

one bedroom had an orange bedspread and free-standing nightstands with lamps

I found a nice cabin on the south end of the island with two bedrooms and a waterfront view. It had space available at a time when both of us had nothing prior scheduled that would interfere, so I booked it. When booking several months in advance you never know what the weather will be, but that’s what raingear is for should the need arise. As it got closer to time to go weather forecasts varied from no rain to raining the whole time we were there. In the end it only rained on part of the way there, part of the way back, and during one night. Even the predicted clouds that were supposed to hover about throughout our stay didn’t materialize, or at least not enough to fog out our lovely view.

the other bedroom had a blue bedspread and wall-mounted shelves and lights

It’s nice when Airbnb’s have a name so the listing is easier to find should someone else want to book it, but this one was just listed as Puget Sound view cabin + beach access. It has two nearly identical bedrooms so nobody has to worry about who gets the best room. Both are about the same size with queen beds. The main difference was nightstands in one and wall mounted shelves on either side of the bed in the other. Both had small closets, but not for the guest’s things as one housed the on-demand water heater and a vacuum cleaner while the other held cleaning supplies. There was no locked closet like you find in most bnb’s where they keep their spare linens and cleaning supplies. Everything here was accessible to the guests.

hammock in the backyard

For the most part this cabin is very easy to find. You just take the Stanwood/Camano Island exit off I-5 and head west. The street changes names a few times along the way, but we never had to turn off it. My GPS was unaware of when we had arrived though so it never alerted us that we had reached our destination. The cabin is set back a ways from the road and you don’t see it as you come around a corner. I’d have missed it if it weren’t for the arrow-shaped sign with the address on it pointing down a gravel driveway people otherwise may not notice. When we got back into the car the next morning the GPS wanted to know if we wanted to continue our route as it still hadn’t realized we were already there. Once you turn at that arrow and head down the gravel driveway you can see the cabin.

kitchen in the cabin

The cabin has a great room with kitchen and living room areas. The back wall contains 2 barn doors, each opening up to a bedroom, with a door to the bathroom in between. The full kitchen and is supplied with pots, pans, and dishes as well as basic cleaning supplies like dish soap and towels. It has cabin sized appliances with a small refrigerator and cute little stove. There’s several choices of where to sit and eat with a couple stools at the small kitchen island, a little table for two with comfortable chairs by the window, and a third table with wicker stools by the door.

living room

The living room area held a sofa and two chairs, one with an ottoman. It had windows pretty much all the way across the side facing Puget Sound, with a view of Saratoga Passage, Whidbey Island, and the Olympic Mountains. The view also included the backyard which had a fire pit and chairs to sit around the fire and a hammock. A porch extended across that side of the cabin, and had a couple seating areas for anyone wanting to sit on the porch to enjoy the view. There’s no TV or internet, but nature provided entertainment. Besides the view there were often birds in the yard and sometimes a squirrel.

bathroom in the bnb

The cabin sat on a bluff above the water. The beach access was a short walk on the main road to a small side street that ran steeply down to the beach. The street ended a bit above the beach, with some large rocks providing a way down and a rope above to assist in getting back up across the steepest of the rocks.

beach near the cabin

We walked down to the beach the evening we arrived and found that at high tide most of it was under water, though there was a small bit of beach near the rock access where we took a very short beach walk with a lovely view. This is a nice cabin for people looking for a quiet place to get away.

Copyright My Cruise Stories 2021
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The Pre-Cruise Covid Test

Symphony of the Seas

After having been shut down for a year or so due to covid, the cruise ship industry has to take precautions to prevent outbreaks on ships from shutting them down again. Because of this, the boarding process has gotten harder, starting from before you even go to the dock.

Vaccines are required for some cruises, which is definitely a good idea when you want to prevent outbreaks of disease. Although the governor of Florida seems determined to insure everyone in his state has every possible opportunity to get sick and that businesses and other public places are unable to protect their employees or anyone else, because ships visit countries with more sense some cruises departing from there can require vaccines anyway. After all there’s no point to setting out on a cruise if you aren’t allowed to dock at the scheduled ports because of unvaccinated passengers.

St Martin required vaccinations

Two of the 3 ports scheduled for our cruise on Symphony of the Seas required vaccinations, as they don’t want a bunch of covid infected tourists bringing new outbreaks of the pandemic to their islands. Proof of vaccine wasn’t the only pre-boarding requirement though. It was actually one of the easier ones. Pre-registering online has been a thing with cruises for ages, so adding vaccine info to their app is just an extension of that. It even allows phones to take photos of the vaccine card right as you are filling in the info.

The hard one is the requirement of a covid test. Testing stations  in some places are inundated with unvaccinated people who require proof of a negative covid test to go just about anywhere indoors so rapid tests may only be available to those showing symptoms. This was further hampered by the requirement of the test being no more than 2 days ahead of time for a Saturday departure and results taking several business days to arrive. Results of course must be presented at boarding so if you haven’t got them yet you don’t get on the ship. Limited testing at the dock was offered for people who ran out of other options if booked 24 hours ahead – at which time we’d be on a plane.

home covid test in a box

Their other option was ordering a home test from them, which has quick results, but requires an online observer watching you take the test. No other home test was acceptable, just the one you buy from Royal’s website. It takes just a few days from ordering for the test to arrive. The telehealth thing was already out of my comfort zone. Then the test came, with a qr code on the box saying that must be scanned to start the process. My phone has a scanner for that, but I’ve never used it. Not wanting to miss the ship due to last minute flight changes, I left 2 days ahead for a hotel at the closest airport, then flew out 1 day ahead for a hotel near the dock. So this meant doing an unfamiliar test in unfamiliar ways the morning I’m trying to leave. There was no opportunity to familiarize yourself with the procedure ahead of time either since the box clearly said not to open it until instructed to do so, and it had no instructions on the outside. Too bad they don’t have Covid sniffing dogs at the port. Then they could do away with the pre-arrival testing and just have a dog check everyone on the way in – and rapid test anyone the dog was suspicious of.

inside the box

My sister who lives in a later time zone did her test first. She said the 25 minutes it said it took really took about 40, mostly due to figuring stuff out time. She also warned that you need your driver’s license handy for ID, and the people watching can see you, but you never see them, which in itself is a bit creepy. She also said that you can just scan the qr thing in the phone camera and it prompts you from there, and to set up on a flat surface like a table or desk.

before the test the card shows a blue line

It was quite a windy day at my house. Shortly before I got started the power and internet went out briefly in a gust of wind, but came back fairly quickly. She hadn’t warned me about the necessity of making up a password so I didn’t have that ready before I started. There was supposed to be a checklist of required things in the box, but besides the fact that there actually wasn’t, since it also said not to open it until instructed to do so even if said checklist had existed it wouldn’t have been available until too late to have things ready anyway. It started out OK. The scan worked easily and the prompts went into setting up an account. This required use of a code they send to your email, only my code never came. I waited awhile, refreshed the email, and tried looking at it in my computer as well as on the phone, but no email with a code ever appeared so I asked for another. After asking for the second one the computer showed two code emails and the phone one. Trying the code that showed in both, in the phone it said it was the wrong code, but in the computer it said the exact same code was correct and it allowed me to set up the account. I got to the part where you put in a password and then enter it again to verify. Only as I was entering the password a second time for verification a very loud explosion of a nearby transformer blowing up was accompanied by an instant power outage, which also killed the internet. Had it accepted the code in the phone that may not have been a problem, but since I was on the computer at that time I didn’t quite complete the verification. After that it would neither let me log in nor sign up using that email address, leading to great frustration.

after the test you want just one pink line

Finally my husband tried with his phone and set up the account using his email address, which of course meant all the results would go to him rather than me, but at least the test could go on. They ask you to show both yourself and the test while opening the box and while doing the test so having a second person to hold the phone at the required angles is really a necessity as you can’t do all that one-handed. Barbara managed it by herself with the aid of some sort of custom phone holder she could angle just so, but the rest of us don’t have any such thing. She also hadn’t mentioned having a knife or something handy to break the seal on the box. The test itself was as easy as promised, but the whole telehealth thing and setting up the account was a nightmare. The test required opening things exactly as directed, opening the card and putting drops on it, running a swab around both nostrils several times, and inserting the swab into the card, then closing it and waiting 15 minutes for another person to contact you about the results. The phone shows a countdown cycle while you wait.

The card clearly showed what positive or negative would look like, but of course the unseen person has to verify those results. Once done they say you will get an email within 15 minutes. One comes nearly immediately with the results, the second one includes a qr code. Though those qr codes were crucial throughout the testing process,  a printed copy of the email without one was sufficient at the port. We had the other one handy on the phone screen just in case, but were not required to show it. I probably took longer than Barbara’s 40 minutes with all the issues of not getting the code and then having the account freeze up and having to start over. There’s also the figuring stuff out time as it has down arrows that do nothing while the info you need is below the part of the screen that shows unless you scroll down while nothing tells you to do so, then when you find that info it sort of spins around in place, but touching the answer you want does nothing as you have to go back up and touch the down arrow while that is highlighted to actually get it to enter, again with no instructions to do so.

the first email you get

With that finally finished, I was able to head off to Linda’s house as we were leaving together from there and spending the night at a hotel near the airport in order to miss the next morning’s rush hour traffic and be sure we made it to our plane on time. She has an older model phone and had not been able to get the app to work so I entered her vaccine info once I got there, which was quick and easy. Then she had to do her test. It seemed to get worse with each succeeding sister. She had been forewarned about necessary items and space, and I knew I’d need to help her with the camera work so we thought she was all prepared to do it quickly.

the second email has a qr code, but they did not require it at the dock

Once again it started out fine, other than the sound wasn’t working so the first telehealth person had to text everything. That one lost contact and the sound worked with the next person. She got the account set up using her phone for the scan and her computer for the email. The violent windstorm at my place did not extend as far as hers, which is about an hour and a half and across a body of water away so sudden loss of internet wasn’t a problem there. She got as far as opening up the box, but her phone kept getting slower and slower and finally froze up. We tried again using my phone. She explained the situation to the next telehealth person, who said they could not go on with the test if the box had already been opened. They said she would have to start over with a new box and a new person, then hung up on her. Luckily the cruise line had recommended that each person have a spare test so she did have another. Her account still worked so she was able to log in and start over with a new test and a new person, and my phone worked throughout her test so we were finally able to get it done and obtain the third necessary negative result. Hers probably took the longest of all after having had to restart several times due to technical issues.

Copyright My Cruise Stories 2021

 

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Flying to Boston

sunset from an airplane

After not having gone anywhere out of my home state since covid started, it was finally time to start traveling again. October brought the first cruise I had booked in a couple years that didn’t get cancelled, preceded by a trip to the northeastern USA. Planes have already stopped keeping the middle seats open and started flying full. Other than the required masks everyone wore, the airports didn’t really seem much different than pre-Covid. They’re pretty crowded and even if you check in on an app, there’s still a visit to the dirty kiosk everyone touches if you want to print out luggage tags or boarding passes.

looking up in Quincy Market, Boston

The airport arrival time has increased from the previously recommended hour early for domestic and 2 for foreign to 2 hours early for domestic and 3 for foreign flights, and that increased time could be needed to get to the gate on time. When checking in for our flight to Boston there was a long line at the regular TSA security check, and a shorter one for pre-check. The three people ahead of us in the pre-check line got to the end for their turn only to have the guy there say that one of them needed to go to the regular line as their ticket did not say pre-check. Apparently they must have not all shown their tickets to the person who checks them on the way in for the one without it to get that far. One of them had already gotten through, the other who had pre-check kept saying they would miss their plane if the one had to go through the other long line, but they can’t send someone through pre-check if their ticket doesn’t say so. Finally they gave up and both went to the other line. They could have saved themselves some time had they looked at the ticket and gone there first, or if the person who is supposed to check them all had caught it. Hopefully they made their plane. We got through without any trouble and got to the gate in plenty of time for our plane.

t-shirt for sale at Quincy Market

Flying out a couple weeks later for my cruise was not so easy. We booked through Alaska, and the first flight was on an Alaska plane, but the second though labeled as an Alaska flight was on an American plane. Perhaps this was the reason the kiosk could not find our flights, but regardless of whether or not that was so, it couldn’t find them. We had to go wait in a long line for a live person, who had no trouble at all finding our flights. She set us up with boarding passes and took our luggage. Then we had to go through security and I did not get pre-check that time so both my sister and I had to wait in the very long regular line. We had gotten to the airport about 2 hours and 15 minutes early and had only 45 minutes left by the time we got through security, which was still plenty of time to get to the gate, but at the old hour early arrival time we’d have missed the plane. Last minute cancellations have plagued a lot of travelers lately, and we were nearly among them when our connecting flight to Miami from Dallas almost didn’t go. It finally took off 2 hours late, much to our relief because if that flight had been cancelled and we couldn’t find another that would get us there in time we’d have missed the first cruise in the last couple years I’ve booked that didn’t get cancelled. These days flying is not nearly as dependable as it used to be. There also were no meals available even for purchase on all but one out of 5 flights, and those only if they were ordered in advance.

carousel in Boston

As we entered the plane to Boston the flight attendants had a basket of disinfecting wipes to hand out to anyone who wanted them. Cleaning the seat and surrounding area before sitting down is a new thing common among quite a lot of passengers whether they brought their own supplies or used the ones the flight attendants gave out. That was the only flight where they handed any wipes out though. All the rest it was bring your own or do without so come prepared if you want your area clean. The planes were definitely not cleaned much if at all between flights. You know that for sure when you find crumbs on the seat and spills on the tray table.

USS Constitution

Another difference was that out of 5 planes I was on recently, only one of them still had screens on the back of the seat ahead of you. The rest you had to use your own phone, which could be connected to in-flight wifi for the movies and things that used to be available on those missing screens.

We had taken an overnight flight, and arrived in Boston around 6am. Not having anywhere else to go, we went to our hotel hoping we could at the very least drop our bags. We got lucky though and they had a room available for us to check in right away, which was pretty awesome since we were there by 7am.

hop on hop off bus in Boston

We stayed at the Marriot Courtyard near Boston Logan Airport for that first night, The room was nice and they have free shuttle service to the airport and subway. There is no free breakfast, but there is a restaurant in the hotel. There aren’t a lot of choices on the menu. They had no gluten free bread at breakfast, but did have gluten free buns available at dinner which was good since the majority of the dinner menu was burgers. Throughout our recent travels we have found that gluten free breads are not as readily available as they were pre-covid and a lot of places that used to offer them can’t currently source any.

horse carriage in Boston

My biggest complaint about this hotel is that you could only opt for heat or cool and could neither adjust their pre-set numbers nor turn the unit off. It was set to heat only if the room got colder than 42 degrees F or cool only if it got above 69 and the room was freezing. I don’t know if the unit in that particular room was broken so those numbers wouldn’t change or if all of them were set that way. It did have arrow buttons where they should have been able to be reset, but pushing those buttons did absolutely nothing – at least in our room anyway. The other bad thing about that room was the outlets of which some didn’t work at all and others only part of the time so it was a bit difficult to charge devices. Perhaps that particular room was available so early because it was a room they don’t use if they don’t have to. There also was only coffee at the coffee maker, no tea. Which may not bother most people, but I never could stand the taste of coffee.

sailboat tour in Boston

There’s a lot to do in Boston, and though we just spent the one night there since we arrived so early we had a full day and fit in a lot of stuff. Boston is a place full of history, having been the site of the Boston Tea Party and other revolutionary acts. Interesting tidbit about the tea party we learned from a sailboat captain, that the actual site of it is now on land. Back in the day they had a very long dock leading out to the harbor where there’s just a short dock now, all the area between having been filled in to increase the amount of land. Some of the historical buildings on the Freedom Trail that are well inland now were near that dock in revolutionary times.

the Freedom Trail goes through a lot of different areas in Boston

Besides the Freedom Trail and historical sites, Boston has other things to see like the bar from the TV series Cheers. Boston is the capital of Massachusetts as well as not only the most heavily populated city in Massachusetts, but in all of New England. It’s one of the oldest cities in the USA having been founded by Puritan settlers in 1630.

Boston duck parked by the aquarium theater

Some of the many things to do in Boston include harbor tours, whale watching, harbor walk, horse carriage rides, duck tours, aquarium, riverboat tours, hop on hop off  bus tours, trolley tours, historical tours, museums, and shopping.

subway in Boston

Boston has a great subway system. Lines of different colors go to different places, but there are stations where more than one line stop so you can transfer to a different line and get to where you want to go even if the one nearest you doesn’t go directly there.

subway station at Boston Common

At the end of the trip we came back to Boston and spent a night at the Hyatt Regency Boston Harbor, which is literally right next to the airport. From our room we could see a bit of the harbor off to the side, but the main view straight out the window was of the airport where we could watch planes taking off and landing. Off to the other side we could see the taxi queue where rows and rows of taxis lined up before getting sent off to pick up incoming airline passengers. This hotel must have had some pretty good soundproofing as we didn’t really hear the planes much in spite of how close they were. The same can not be said for the one where I stayed in Seattle with my sister the night before flying out to Miami for our cruise.

Copyright My Cruise Stories 2021
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Muscat, Oman Cruise Ship Port

coming into port in Muscat

MUSCAT, OMAN

view residences above a little cove near Muscat

Oman’s capital and largest city sits on the Gulf of Oman surrounded by mountains and desert. The climate is hot and arid with hot summers and warm winters. Annual rainfall is about 4 inches. Arabic is the predominant language, but there are people who speak English and a number of other languages.

roadside decor

Muscat has lots of traditional architecture, but also modern skyscrapers and upscale malls. There are 16th century Portuguese forts and the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque that holds 20,000 people. Alcohol consumption is not allowed in public. Currency in Oman is the Rial. It takes $2.60 USD to equal 1 Omani Rial.

fort by the harbor in Muscat

MUSCAT CRUISE PORT

Lirica coming into port near Aida Prima

The port is near the old-town area. It’s an industrial port with container ships so walking through the port is prohibited, but free shuttles take passengers to the gates and Mutrah is walkable from there. Shuttles may also drop people off at Mutrah souk, a traditional market. Dress conservatively as this is a traditional Arab country. Taxis are available at the port gates, and maybe a HOHO bus. They ran on cruise ship days pre-covid, but hop on hop off bus service got suspended due to the pandemic and is currently still suspended until further notice. There is wifi in the terminal building, but it is not always open.

view of the city from the port

The Corniche is a 4-mile long seaside walkway with access to one of Muscat’s main tourist attractions, the Mutrah Souk. A souk is a market, and this is a large one with numerous alleys winding through the market stalls. It’s one of the oldest souks in Oman having been there for about 200 years. Al Jalali Fort is visible on a hillside across the harbor.

fancy light post in Muscat

If you are coming into Oman by cruise ship you may not need a visa even if the country you are from is generally required to have one. We had 3 ports in Oman on our cruise on the MSC Lirica. At each one people were given landing cards as they exited the ship, which substituted for visas for cruise ship passengers who are just coming ashore for a few hours. The cards were collected upon return to the vessel. If you do need a visa to visit Oman, be sure to get it from the official Oman Royal Police evisa website because the price if you get it directly from them is a fraction of what it costs through visa assist sites.

Sultan’s Palace

THINGS TO DO IN MUSCAT

flowers near the Muscat Opera House

Old town, Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque (to enter the Grand Mosque conservative dress is required including covering ankles, wrists, neck, head, and most of face for women. Open 9-11am)  Mutrah souk, museums, Muscat Corniche (seaside promenade), dolphin watching cruise, beaches (Qurum Beach allows western style swimming suits), scuba diving, forts (Muttrah fort is open to the public), hotels (you can go inside even if you aren’t staying there. Some have restaurants or beaches.) Al Qurum Park (greenery in an otherwise desert landscape) Sultan’s palace (outside views only), water activities (tours available for diving, snorkeling, wake boarding, dolphin watching, or rent kayaks or jet skis).

Oman

Copyright My Cruise Stories 2021
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Gluten Free Nutella Sandwich Cookies

Nutella Sandwich Cookies

Ingredients

1 stick butter (1/2 cup) softened

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla

1 1/4 cups all purpose gluten free flour (I used Namaste)

1/4 cup cornstarch

1/8 teaspoon salt

2-5 tablespoons milk

almond flour

Instructions

Heat oven to 375 degrees and line cookie sheet with parchment paper

Cream butter, sugar, and vanilla together in mixing bowl. Add all purpose flour, cornstarch, and salt. Stir in by hand. Add one tablespoon of milk and stir. If dough is still too dry and floury add another tablespoon milk and stir again, repeating until flour has blended into the dough.

Put a pile of almond flour on a piece of waxed or parchment paper. Pat a small ball of dough down on the almond flour, then flip it over so almond flour coats the top and the bottom of the ball sits in the pile of almond flour. Pat down and flip, repeating several times until the dough is fairly flat. Adding almond flour to top and bottom as needed, cover with a second piece of waxed or parchment paper and roll until very thin. Cut rounds of dough with a small glass or cut shapes with cookie cutter as desired. Using almond flour for this prevents the cookie from becoming tough and floury as it tends to with other flours, especially if you use coarsely ground almond flour.

Place cookies on prepared pan. They don’t rise or spread so they don’t need a lot of space between them. Bake at 375 degrees until cookies brown around the edges, about 7-9 minutes. Cool completely.

Put a blob of nutella on the bottom of one cookie place bottom of a second cookie on top. Gently squish cookies together so nutella spreads to the edges.

Cookies should turn out crispy. If they are chewy instead they are either too thick or underbaked.

Other filling options include peanut butter, frosting, or melted chocolate if nutella isn’t your thing. I like using it to frost things because it is delicious and less unhealthy than actual frosting.

It is not necessary to chill the dough before rolling. It is actually preferable not to as chilled dough is more likely to end up with air pockets in the baked cookies. 

Copyright My Cruise Stories 2021

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Shanghai Cruise Ship Port

view of Shanghai from the Westerdam

Shanghai

Shanghai is China’s largest city as well as a global financial hub and the place where our 4-week Canada to China cruise came to an end. The city’s population exceeds 24 million. The Chinese characters that make up the city’s name together mean upon-the-sea. Shanghai has a 4-season climate with hot humid summers and cold damp winters, often with freezing temperatures at night and very little snow. Spring is often wet while fall is generally sunny and dry. Public transportation includes trains, busses, ferries, and taxis as well as the cruise port and an international airport.

ships disappearing into the smog near the port in Shanghai

Getting Shanghaied back in the 1800’s meant people might get knocked out (usually by alcohol or drugs) only to wake up and find themselves on a boat to China where they had been recruited as crew whether they liked it or not. Unlike today’s large cruise ships with stabilizers, those old wooden sailing vessels would pitch and roll in rough seas, often making seasickness a problem. Being a major shipping port, these unwilling sailors often ended up in Shanghai. Acupuncture has been practiced in China for centuries, and there is a pressure point on the ear that can ease seasickness, hence the penchant of pirates for earrings – often more than one since they may not have found the right spot on the first try. Currently the term Shanghaied means getting tricked into doing some sort of work for someone.

scooters in a narrow alleyway in Shanghai

Probably the most dangerous thing in modern day Shanghai aside from pollution is the crazy scooter drivers. They’re not only dangerous to pedestrians, but also to themselves. They ride in streets with the traffic, against the traffic, and often right through red lights and crowded crosswalks. They also ride on the sidewalks. The scooters are pretty quiet so you don’t always hear them coming up behind you. Scooter riders often neglect to turn their lights on when riding after dark to save the power lights take to run. People park their scooters everywhere. Sometimes the sidewalk is so thick with scooters that there is no room on the sidewalk for anyone to walk so the pedestrians end up in the street along with cars, scooters, and bikes. In spite of all that we did not see any accidents while walking around in Shanghai and we did a lot of walking in the several days we spent there.

parked scooters taking up the whole sidewalk so people have to walk in the street

Chinese people do have some disgusting habits. Some of them spit all over the sidewalks and even on the floors inside sometimes. Something to do with a belief that phlegm must be expelled immediately. They also let their young children pee anywhere. Not just on the sidewalks outside either. We were at a restaurant in a tourist area when a little boy had to go. Instead of taking him to the bathroom like normal people his parents had him pee in a garbage can right at their table in a room full of other people having lunch. In another tourist area, which had restrooms, we saw someone have a little girl go on an open riverbank next to the pathway rather than taking her to a nearby toilet.

night cruise from the Bund

Shanghai Cruise Port

Shanghai’s original cruise port located at the Bund, which in itself is a tourist destination, holds only smaller cruise ships, but the new port farther down the river about 15 miles north of the city holds larger ships. While visiting China normally requires a visa, those passing through Shanghai in 144 hours or less and not visiting anywhere else in China may not need one depending on where they are from. The new port can accommodate up to 3 large cruise ships at the same time. Taxis are readily available at the port. The advice to avoid over-priced unlicensed scam taxis by getting into the official taxi line for a registered taxi may or not work. We walked a long way to get to the official taxi line rather than taking the nearby unlicensed cabs and even there the driver did not turn the meter on and overcharged for the ride into town.

inside the long hallway to get out of the cruise terminal in Shanghai

Disembarking from the Westerdam meant quite a long walk through the terminal, with frequent stops to wait in line for the next line. The official taxi stand was quite a distance from where our ship disembarked, though nearer to some of the other berths. We were approached several times along the way by someone asking where we were going in hopes of steering us to their scam taxi. The licensed ones won’t approach anyone, they just pull into the taxi line, though as we found out having a license doesn’t mean they won’t still scam you. The taxi line had people coming from two different directions because Quantum of the Seas was disembarking that day too with a much shorter walk to the taxi stand and port exit than we had.

cruise port view from the ship in Shanghai

The port shuttle into town was only for people with no luggage (those staying onboard for the next cruise) and even they were recommended by the shore excursion staff to take a taxi because the drive to where it let people off was so far they figured it could take people an hour of wait time before boarding the shuttle since it would take the busses a long time to go to town and back.

canal boat in Zhuijiajao

Things to do in Shanghai

Being a very large city, Shanghai has many options of things for tourists to do. It has museums, parks and gardens, temples, and towers.  There are a couple ancient cities turned tourist attractions somewhat near to Shanghai. One is called Zhujiajiao, which has canals with pole-boat rides somewhat like Venice, though neither the boats nor architecture is the same as that found in Italy. The World Financial Center building is one of the largest buildings in the world, but the Shanghai Tower is even bigger. Shanghai’s Pudong district has 3 tall towers with viewing areas for visitors.

bus tour map of Shanghai

You can ride the 270mph maglev train or go shopping. There are shows to see, food to eat, museums, tall buildings with observation areas on high floors, massages, and more. There are hop-on-hop-off buses from more than one company. The hotel gave us a map from the Bus B tours, which has 3 different routes included in one price, but we saw more busses from one called City Tours around town. We didn’t go on either, but the map was useful.

Shanghai subway routes map

Subways are cheap and have stations listed in English as well as ticket machines where you can choose a language before purchasing the ticket so you know what you are getting. Some stations sell all day passes, but not all of them. You have to pay attention to where you enter the subway station if you want to find the same street on the way out. Most of the subway stations are huge, with multiple exits. A lot of them have shopping areas, some have entire malls.

sweets in a shop window

Street signs are also in English as well as Chinese. Massages are readily available and cheaper if you get them somewhere other than a hotel. Even less from a place not on a main tourist street than one in a prime location. They have everything from foot to whole body massages, and some will offer a variety of styles such as Swedish, Japanese, or Chinese.

night view from the Bund

The Bund has boat rides along the river, a ferry across, and a tourist ride that goes under the river. There are walkways along the riverside and eateries, and in the evening light shows on lots of the buildings.

Gucheng Park near the Bund

There are a lot of things within walking distance of the Bund including several parks.

Nanjing Street

Nanjing Street is a famous tourist area with lots of shops and the world’s biggest Starbucks.

smoggy view of tall buildings in the Pudong district across the water from the Bund

Copyright My Cruise Stories 2021
Posted in China, Holland America, Port Cities, Ports of Call, Westerdam | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Royal Princess Hits and Misses

Royal Princess in Seattle

Hits and Misses  on the Royal Princess

Hits and misses are usually my opinion of what I did and didn’t like on a cruise, but this time I have some input from one of my sisters as well. As usual these are a matter of opinion and not everyone who sails that ship will agree since different people like different things.

HITS

The ship itself is quite nice. It’s easy to get around, classy, and tastefully decorated with a variety of options for things to do. Staff and crew were always polite and helpful.

The gym is open 24 hours a day. They post open hours of 6am-10pm, but that is the time it is staffed. The door is always unlocked and passengers can use the equipment any time of day or night.

relaxing in the enclave

The spa has a nice thermal suite called the Enclave. We often take the spa tour on boarding day to determine if that ship’s spa is worthy of paying the extra for the thermal package, and on Royal Princess we decided it was. There is a dry sauna and a couple of steam rooms, a pool with several water features including a rack to sit on and enjoy the jets, heated ceramic benches, and a couple little waterbeds.

almost all the seats in the Royal Princess theater are good seats

Royal Princess has a well-designed theater with no view blocking poles holding up a balcony and most of the seats in the theater are good seats where you have a nice view of the stage.

The showers in the gym and spa locker rooms have rain shower heads.

medallions replace key cards on the Royal Princess

Medalions are used instead of key cards. They have all the functions of a key card like opening the cabin door and charging onboard purchases, but they have additional useful features and some just for fun things. They are also waterproof, which would come in quite useful on an itinerary with beaches or snorkeling opportunities.

surf & turf

The food was good and the staff is quite accommodating for special diets. Besides the standard of ordering dinner on the previous night so the meals can be adjusted to fit people’s individual dietary needs, our waiter brought us off-menu deserts on nights where nothing from the menu fit our needs. Specialty foods are a bit harder to find on the breakfast buffet, but gluten free items are available if you ask where to find them.

Inside smoking is mostly confined to a fully-enclosed cigar lounge which keeps the smoke contained.

The outside smoking area is at the back end of the ship where people don’t inadvertently walk through it.

bar overlooking the piazza

At the past guest party besides having a little stage show, they gave out drink certificates good for any bar anytime during the cruise.

San Diego port photo

They had good photographers who allowed the line of people exiting the ship to move freely by staying out of the way of people disembarking. They were there and available for anyone who wanted photos, but didn’t stuff up the line trying to stop people who didn’t want their photo taken.

Gluten free desserts were always available at the little cafe in the piazza and at the late night buffet.

people dancing in the piazza

There was always a variety of daily activities in the piazza.

seawalk on the Royal Princess

The ship had a skywalk which was a little walkway with a glass floor. It curved out from the side of the ship so the sea was visible through the floor.

self-serve passenger laundry

Royal Princess has self serve guest laundries, which are always a good thing to have on cruise ships.

MISSES

almost onboard

After showing a boarding time of 1:00pm for over a year from when we booked until a couple weeks before the cruise, they sent an email saying they had staggered boarding by decks and we were to get on at 2:30, which was the very last time slot on the list. The ship was scheduled to sail at 4 which means all aboard would be 3:00 so we would barely get on the ship in time for the muster drill. 1pm was already a pretty late start time for boarding. In those days you could get on most ships in time to have lunch onboard. It was just the email they sent about boarding that was a miss though. The actual boarding process was quick and efficient, done first come first served, and we were onboard by 11:30am. This was before Covid. There’s a lot of hoops to jump through before you even get to the dock now.

after having our ship’s excursion in San Diego cancelled, we took a hop on hop off trolley tour

You can pre-book excursions online before cruises, but apparently with Princess that doesn’t mean you can actually take that excursion. We booked one that was cancelled just before the cruise with no notification whatsoever from Princess. I only knew they cancelled it because I received a refund notice from PayPal, whom I had used to pay for it. Upon calling Princess they said they list all excursions a port has to offer and then cancel the ones that aren’t actually available for that sailing. If that is actually true and not just what one random person answering the phone said it seems like a way to make some very unhappy guests when they could instead just list excursions that are actually available for that cruise so people only book ones they can actually take.

one of 4 unconnected deck sections that are all Royal Princess has for an outside promenade deck

The outside promenade deck does not go all the way around the ship. There’s really not much in the way of an outside promenade deck at all – just a small bit something like a big balcony at each end on each side. So there’s no promenade deck to walk or jog around for those who enjoy doing so (and that’s always quite a lot of people.) Also nowhere where people can position themselves for the exact view they want because the top decks have obstructions.

There’s no dry place to put your things in the gym and spa showers, no washclothes in gym or spa locker rooms, and no hairdryer in the gym locker room. It takes nearly a whole shower to get hot water in gym locker room which makes it hard to enjoy the rainshower. There are no private dressing rooms in gym or spa locker rooms, and some people take up lockers for the entire trip instead of just while they are at the gym even though there are nowhere near enough lockers for every passenger. There’s no indicator on the taps in the locker room showers for which direction to go for hot or cold and since it takes so long for the water to get warm until you’ve used it you have no way to know.

ship art in a public area

As is often the case on cruise ships, the inside areas of the ship were on the chilly side.

Some features of the medallion are useful yet creepy – like the find your shipmates feature which is useful if you want to locate someone, but creepy in that it shows you are being tracked wherever you go on the ship.

Instead of having separate shampoo and conditioner in the showers they had one bottle of a combined shampoo/conditioner, which is just not usable for most women, especially if their hair has any length to it.

balcony cabin

There are no oceanview cabins. None at all on the entire ship. So cabin options are inside, balcony, or suite. Balcony cabins and suites do of course have a view of the ocean, but at a higher price than a room with just a window.

forward view of the Golden Gate Bridge

There are no unobstructed forward facing viewpoints anywhere on the ship.

The directional signs for the rooms in the hallways on either side of the elevator bays/stairwells had microscopic numbers so small that we had to actually walk into the hallway to see whether they were odd or even. The deck numbers were not all that large or obvious either so it could have used better signage.

shops and casino on Royal Princess

The casino smelled of smoke, and smoking may actually be allowed in there at times.

Water was often too cold in the spa thermal suite (enclave) pool – and the rack in the pool was situated about 5 inches too high to really get properly submersed when sitting on it. Of the 4 fancy showers in the thermal suite area, only one was consistently warm. The spa was not on the same deck or even the same end of the ship as the gym that also had issues with getting any hot water in the showers there. So hot water seemed to be an issue in several areas of this ship – though not in our cabin where the shower consistently had hot water right away.

life ring on the Royal Princess

Overall we found quite a lot to like about the Royal Princess. It had more hits than misses and we thoroughly enjoyed our cruise.

Copyright My Cruise Stories 2021

 

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Salalah, Oman 4×4 Tour

MSC Lirica approaching Salalah

MSC Lirica glided into Salalah, Oman as the desert view gave way to giant cranes at the container port where the ship docked.  The ship’s thrusters thundered, moving it slowly sideways as the ship neared the dock – aided as always when coming into port by a tug.

4×4 car tour parked near Taqah

We came in on a Friday, which is the holy day in Islamic countries. Not much is likely to be open in town and we did not know about the possibility of local van tours so we booked an excursion through the ship called Wadi Off Road. We expected something that went through sandy expanses of nothingness to Bedouin type camps, but instead the tour took us mostly to developed places with pavement other than a trek through some desert roads that were made up of more rocks than sand. That bit did have some serious ups and downs over the hills, but nothing remote or exciting. We did not go anywhere that we needed 4-wheel drive to get to. You never know what sort of vehicle you will get for a 4×4 tour. We’ve had everything from jeeps to open-sided trucks to a jungle bus in the past. This time it was a fleet of nice new-looking 4×4 cars.

view of Taqah

We first went to a seaside overlook near Taqah, with clifftop views of the town and the sea. There was a slight bit of off-roading to get to that one. Besides great views it had lots of giant dragonflies, but they were too fast to catch a photo of them. Not far from there our next stop brought us to a view across a bay to the walls around the ruins of an ancient castle said to be the home of the Queen of Sheba on the opposite cliff.

distant view of the palace of the Queen of Sheba

We could see people over there, but the viewpoint was the closest our tour got to it. We stood on a cliff high above the sea, the ruins equally high on the other side. In ancient times it was a bustling sea port. A sand bar now separates that bay from the open sea. Without access to the sea for ships it became a quiet place for birds to call home.

school in Salalah that our guide said Sultan Qaboos built

During the tour our guide talked about his country as well as the things we would see. He had high praise for Sultan Qaboos. Over his 5 decades of rule the sultan used his country’s oil wealth to transform Oman from an isolated poverty stricken country with just 6 miles of paved roads where slavery was still legal into a stable and prosperous nation. The sultan worked hard to improve the lives of his people and strived to maintain peace and neutrality with other nations. If our guide was any indication of general public opinion, the people loved him. We would pass by things like schools or hospitals and he would say Sultan Qaboos had built that for the people. (Sultan Qaboos has since died so they have a different sultan now.)

Like most countries, housing in Oman varied from areas that looked like slums to richer developments lined with mansions, and everything in between. The guide said the people living in the mansions often had multiple wives, but the lower income people could only afford one.

camel at Wadi Darbat

Our trek to the next stop at Wadi Darbat was on paved roads. Camels were everywhere. Some of them were friendly. At the bottom there was a small food shack with restrooms our guide described as 1-star, but they were really more like a negative 10, and that’s being generous. You know the restroom is disgusting when the Chinese style squat toilet is the best choice available – because you don’t need to touch anything with a squat toilet and the place was way too filthy to even consider using the hover over technique on the one with a seat. Bringing your own toilet paper is always a good plan when traveling in unknown places. This was not the first place we’ve been to that didn’t provide any – and in this particular place even if it had people would have been better off not touching it.

camels in Wadi Darbat

There were trails up to a very small cave in the rock, and more trails down to a river with camels all along the bank. They went about their business unbothered by the group of tourists in their midst. Our guide said all of the camels belonged to one family, and pointed out the house where they lived as we drove past it. There were camels of all ages and sizes. Some of the big female camels had netting or covers over their udders, presumably to keep their offspring away either because it was weaning time or to limit the time they are allowed to nurse so the mother could be milked.

Waterfall in Wadi Darbat

On the way out of the wadi we stopped briefly to see a small waterfall. It was just a short hike down a steep small trail from where the car parked to the stream.

Ain Hamran

Next we went to a place called Ain Hamran with large trees, flowers, birds. While we were there a herd of goats came down one of the surrounding hills to go to the spring at the bottom for a drink. The water there ran through cement lined ducts into a cement pond. The guide said that area was a popular picnic spot for the locals, but it was fairly deserted other than our tour group while we were there. Between there and the next stop we went off-road through the desert. Well off the paved road anyway. It was a rough rocky desert road with lots of steep ups and downs. Far from a 4×4 only road though. The local van tours went through there just as easily as the 4-wheel drives.

small cave by the parking lot at Ain Razat

Our last stop was at Ain Razat with a natural spring and a cave. The guide just said we were going to a cave. He stopped the car and everyone got out. There was a pond surrounded in trees at one end of the parking lot and a cave on a little hill above it. We went up to the little cave, which was just an unimpressive hole in a rock that maybe people are living in or maybe they were just picnicking there.

The main cave at Ain Razat

Back in the car as we left the parking lot and started down the road we saw a stairway going up a hill on the other side of the street – with a cave entrance at the top. We had apparently missed the main attraction, which could not be seen from the parking lot through the trees. Too bad the guide didn’t mention we needed to leave the area and go across the street because the cave we were there to see was not the cave we could see from there. I love caves, particularly the sort full of stalactites and stalagmites. I looked for photos online to see what we had missed and from them it appeared this cave was just a sort of room with a view, but I still would have liked to see it. Nobody from our car went up there, but a few of the other guides must have been more specific since some of the other people did find it. Not all of them though as there were enough people hanging around the parking lot area not to notice that others had left.

inside the main cave at Ain Razat (internet photo)

After that we went back to the ship. The cars must have been required to stay in line according to the number they were assigned because when our driver passed some of the other cars from our tour he got a phone call following which he slowed down until some of the others passed and we fell into our original place in line.

bay near Taqah with the entrance blocked by a sand bar

In spite of a 4×4 not actually being necessary and missing the cave, we did enjoy the tour. We got to see quite a lot of the area and learned interesting things from the guide.

Copyright My Cruise Stories 2021

 

Posted in Lirica, Middle East, MSC, Ports of Call, Shore Excursions | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Advantages and Disadvantages of a Do-It-Yourself Cruise

small private boat vs cruise ship

Taking a cruise on your own rather than booking passage on a cruise ship requires access to a boat – and at least one person who knows how to operate it. Owning your own boat is of course the easiest way if you happen to have one, and boat rentals are available for those who don’t have any boat, the right sort of boat, or a boat available in the location where they want to cruise. Once boat access is secured, the cruise is yours to plan.

you can bring pets on your own boat

Advantages of cruising on your own

You can plan your own itinerary. You can stay as long as you like in each stop and the boat will never leave without you. You can choose your own food and eat it whenever you like so long as the boat you are on has a sufficient means of storing and cooking the food. There’s nobody on board but you and your own party of people so you can do what you want when you want. You can wear what you want and don’t need a variety of clothes for attending different events. You can bring your pets along if you want to. You never have to wait in line for anything.

Carnival Vista
There’s lots to do on a cruise ship

Advantages of booking passage on a cruise ship

Cruises of various lengths are available from many ports with stops in many places. You aren’t responsible for any work throughout the voyage. If you want something to eat or drink you just go get it. There’s lots to do onboard too since cruise ships are basically floating resorts. Cruise ships have a much broader range of places they can go and can get there more quickly than smaller boats. Somebody else does all the cooking and cleaning and entertainment is provided for you in a variety of forms. The ship is large enough that there are a variety of places to go.

private boats are often small and have no crew

Disadvantages of cruising on your own

You have to do all the work yourself. There’s nobody to make your meals or do the cleaning for you. Somebody has to drive the boat. Smaller boats don’t generally have much to do while underway other than just sit. Nobody plans entertainment for you. Unless you have a big yacht, there’s not a lot of space to put things so there’s a limit to what you can bring.

cruise ships can get crowded

Disadvantages of booking passage on a cruise ship

Port stays are limited to the amount of time scheduled by the cruise line. If you don’t make it back to the ship on time it will leave without you. Itineraries are determined by someone else. There are a lot of strangers on the ship with you. Some places can get crowded and you may have to wait in line for some things – like getting on and off the ship. Onboard events you may wish to attend are per the ship’s schedule rather than at your convenience. You have to leave your pets at home.

Sasebo, Japan
cruise ships sail to exotic places – like this one in Japan

Overall, while it’s fun to go out in a smaller boat on your own, you can see and do a lot more and travel greater distances on a cruise ship.

Copyright My Cruise Stories 2021

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