March 30, 2016

World Cruise 2016 Day 85

Day 85 – Muscat, Oman. We arrive early and the ship is cleared in short order so passengers are able to disembark a half hour before any of the shuttle buses are ready. The forecast for the day is partly sunny with a high temperature for the day of about 80, humidity is high but the air quality is much better than the last few days. I suspect because the nearby desert here is rock instead of sand as it was in Dubai.

This is another very modern industrial port where passengers either board a shuttle bus to the pier gate, or board excursion buses right at the gangway. Walking on the pier is prohibited. Clearing customs and security is the easiest I have seen anywhere. The bus slows at a gate and is waved on by authorities. The same when I return.

Without a ships tour, I take the hop on hop off bus. It drives around the entire city with about ten designated stops. The city is very clean and modern. All buildings are either white or cream color, the sultan's order. Another interesting characteristic I have seen several times in other cities is that certain types of stores are all grouped together. For example in this city of 600,000 with excellent roads, there are a number of car dealerships. However they are all grouped together in one area about a mile long on one side of the road, not dispersed around the city.

I get off the bus at the Murrah Souk, the next to last stop. The market here is one of the cleanest I have seen, the merchandise is similar in many ways to most other markets, and exactly the same in one regard. There is nothing I need, regardless of the price. Some products are local, while foreign sourced merchandise comes primarily from India, Pakistan, and China.

After strolling the market for about an hour, I board a shuttle bus back to the ship.

The Europa 2 was docked by the time we arrived this morning, and by the time I get back to the ship The Splendour of The Seas is docked in the next pier. There are a few small container ships in port, and several tankers anchored outside the harbor. Oil is the primary export of the country with dates and frank incense also important.

Long over due, a big THANK YOU for all of the kind comments many of you have made about this blog. I do get them, I do read them, I just can't add them to any posts. I especially thank "Anonymous", the most prolific responder.

We leave Muscat at 6:00 this evening to head to Salalah, Oman. There will be the usual sailaway party, but tonight HAL is providing free champagne, wine and beer. If I remember correctly they have only done this twice for a sailaway. About a month ago at the Jakarta sailaway, and three months ago at the Port Everglades sailaway at the beginning of the cruise.

I will try and write this in an unbiased manner. I will also refrain from using names as I know all the parties involved. A lady, that is also a knitter, brings her knitting bag to the party with a partial ball of yarn. At least three times during the party she loads her knitting bag with cans of beer, places the yarn on top, and makes a trip to her cabin and returns for another run. Total take, at least 20+ free beers stashed for future consumption. Are they really free? Or did I pay for them with my fare?

Our entertainer tonight is a ventriloquist, Kieran Powell. He uses several guests from the audience and it is a good show. Tomorrow is a sea day.