Fantasia is still at sea when we awake. She is due to reach Sir Bani Yas Island around 9am and it’s now 7.30. I try a continental breakfast this morning as fancied something lighter. The buffet is very busy although we always manage to find a seat. After returning to our cabin Fantasia has reached the island and drops anchor about 1/2 mile offshore. From our balcony we can see a flurry of activity as staff load provisions into the tender boats ready to go ashore. The tenders take about 5mins to make the short trip to the island.
As Black Card members we have priority tender tickets which means we can turn up at anytime to go ashore. Other people have dedicated times in which they can board the small boats. We head down to deck 5 and are soon bouncing across the waves to the Island.
The name Sir Bani Yas Island originates from the Bani Yas tribe, who first inhabited Abu Dhabi. Sir Bani Yas Island is the crest of a salt dome created millions of years ago by natural geological forces and is located 110 mi southwest of Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates.
Once ashore we quickly head to one of the many beach beds laid out ready for guests. However, they are wooden and very rigid and hence not very comfortable. The cruise beach area is basically a very long sand bar that has been transformed to accommodate cruise passengers. It is slightly separate from the main island which can be reached via a causeway.
I stroll along the beach to see what is on offer. There are large eating areas that the ships crew are able to serve food from. There are portable tiki bars dotted here and there serving cocktails, beers and soft drinks. The MSC Yacht Club is located at the far end and is solely for this guests who have paid extra for thenYacht Club.
We retire to one of the Buffet areas for some lunch. The food is very good. Mainly hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken and various salads. The temperature has really risen by now and is pushing 30c (86f). After lunch we decide to explore the area and see what else is on offer. There are plenty of toilet cabins and they are spotlessly clean. We walk as far as the Sheikh Beds which are like a 2 person cabana you can rent for the day. You get a cool box as well that will keep water, soft drink, beers cold. With so many bars nearby though they are not really needed. The beach itself is quite coarse but the sea is crystal clear.
We return to the welcome area. There is free wifi provided and it’s very good. On the opposite side to the beach is a mangrove swamp and people are kayaking and paddle boarding with some difficulty it seems in the breeze that has picked up. Said breeze is wonderfully cooling and belies the suns strength. We make sure we are amply covered in sunscreen.
Mid-afternoon we decide to head back to the ship. Once onboard we get an iced coffee in Il’Cappuccino before wanderng around the ship taking pictures. It’s wonderfully quiet with most people ashore. We head up to the pool deck where there are still plenty of people. The solarium has pulled back the retractable roof and the aft pool looks very inviting in the late afternoon heat.