The Arabian Fjords
After a poor nights sleep I am awoken by a clarion call of different alarms at 06.15. So paranoid that we would oversleep and miss our excursion we set alarms on both our phones and the in-room telephone. They all went off simultaneously. Today we are in Khasab. Khasab is a city in an enclave of Oman bordering the United Arab Emirates called Musandam.
The Musandam Peninsula has an abundance of sheltered fjords, created by fragmented rock they stretch claw-like into the sea and massive overshadowing cliffs tower above. The coast juts into the Strait of Hormuz and extends some 600 kilometres. These spectacular fjords have given the area a second name “The Norway of Arabia”.
We shower and grab a quick breakfast before heading down to the aft bar to collect our tour stickers (No 1) and wait to be called. Shortly afterwards we are guided to the tender area. Fully expecting to board a tender into Khasab town and then catch a Dhow to the Fjords we are surprised to find the dhows moored 4 abreast at the ship. We board the first dhow and clamber across it to reach the one that is furthest away.
The dhow itself is quite large with a lower level decked with nice carpets and lots of cushions for people to sit and enjoy the view. There is a smaller upper deck which is open air. As the sun looks quite fierce again today we opt to stay downstairs in the shade. We soon set sail heading eastwards toward the rugged mountain chain in the distance. These are the Western Hajar Mountains, the tallest rising to over 2000ft. The sea is a little choppy but once we enter the Fjords it’s a lot calmer.
It’s not long before we sight our first dolphins. The captain turns our boat around to get closer to them but they keeping diving out of view to pop up some 100m away.
We make our way slowly toward Telegraph Island, for a short time (between 1865 and 1868) the site of a manned telegraph repeater station on the cable section between Bahrain and Bombay. We drop anchor here to allow people to swim in the cool waters. There are many colourful fish swimming near and under our boat. One of the deckhands throws bits of banana in which they seem to love. We have a guide onboard but his English is not so good so only catch a few facts that he mentions. This area is mainly inhabited by fishermen who live in the few small villages dotted here and there.
We then leave Telegraph Island and slowly sail along the rugged shoreline. The dolphins make a reappearance but are intent on being as shy as before. Still, it’s always a pleasure to see them, however briefly. We head up top for part of the return journey and Fantasia slides into view as we round a headland. The ship’s tenders are ploughing back and forth to the mainland but there doesn’t appear to be much to Khasab town itself and so we decide not to visit.
We lunch early in the buffet. There is a nice varied choice today. I have moussaka and some lamb kebabs with rosemary roasted potatoes and veg. I then have an hours kip. In my defence, I was up very early. We then head to the pool deck for a beer at the bar situated near the aft of the ship. It’s extremely busy. The sun is not so hot at 4 pm buts it’s still very warm.
We decide to eat at the Tex Mex in the evening again but will do Mex rather than Tex tonight. We begin with complimentary nachos and dips. Peter orders the Tacos to start and I have the Tostados. We both opt for the chicken&beef fajitas for main. We are both so stuffed afterwards we have to skip dessert.
A drink in Il’Transatlantico afterwards and I am feeling tired. Determined not to go to bed just yet we head up to the top deck to enjoy some drinks underneath the starry open air. The pool bar is still open and plenty of people are enjoying drinks al fresco. There is quite a lively playlist playing over the speakers (Rihanna, One Direction, All Saints) which along with the sea air perks us up.
We soon tire though and retire to bed. Tomorrow we are at Sir Bani Yas which is a small island that MSC has recently started to visit. Will be interesting to see how it compares to the Caribbean ones.