The Zanzibar Buffet is relatively quiet when we arrive for breakfast. We pick a table with a view over the gulf and the many flat islands dotting the horizon. We later learn that over 200 islands make up what is the largest of the 7 Emirates, Abu Dhabi.
We head to the aft bar to collect our tour stickers and then head outside to pick up the tour. We board coach number 4 and meet our tour guide, Marshall. He’s very knowledgeable and chatty, explaining the history of Abu Dhabi as we make our way towards our first stop The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. Not the biggest mosque in the world but pretty sure it is the most impressive. We spot the gold-topped domes from a few miles away and although I had seen plenty of pictures beforehand none did the place any justice. The white marble domes looked spectacular beneath the blue Arabian sky.
They are extremely strict on the dress code for people entering the mosque. Especially for women. Apart from the fact that they must cover their heads, there must be no flesh on show and nothing must be too tight fitting or revealing. There were a couple of officials pulling people aside that did not meet the criteria and they were exclusively women. However, they weren’t turned away but simply provided with loose fitting robes or suitable attire before allowing entry.
Once through security, we proceeded into the mosque. It is breathtaking. Not being a religious person I was less interested in that side of things and more so in the architecture and design of the mosque. It has the worlds largest chandelier and the world largest, handmade, carpet. All the many marble columns are inlaid with Mother of Pearl in intricate floral patterns. The walls are created with fancy geometric shapes and the carpet is indeed very large.
From the mosque, we head through the suburbs of Abu Dhabi towards the Emirates Palace and Emirate towers. We stop a lot for photos as we drive through the city. The Date Souk was fascinating where the wholesalers and retailers meet to buy and sell dates along with many other fruits and vegetable. We try some chocolate dates which are delicious and back at the cruise terminal we even buy some although I think we get ripped off as we are useless hagglers.
Back onboard we lunch and spend the afternoon relaxing. Still tired I snooze for a few hours. We enjoy a couple of drinks on our balcony as the sun sets. The transition from day to night happens quickly here. The Abu Dhabi skyline twinkles into life as the myriad of skyscrapers and apartment block light up.
We dress and head to Il Transatlantico, our favourite bar where we enjoy G&T’s and Jack&Diets. Abu Dhabi is also an embarkation port and so the people that joined the ship today need to partake in the muster drill and so for 45mins all the bars close. Once over it is almost time for dinner and so we head to the dining room.
The Oswaldtwistle family are not here tonight but we have two new guests on our table. Greg and Maureen from Ayrshire in Scotland. There are only 6 of us tonight. The solo guy turns up with his head bandaged. He fell off a bar stool but is ok but wanted to let us know is eating in the buffet.
Service is better tonight. They remember which wine we like. Food good also. I have a prawn/seafood cocktail. Mahi Mahi for main and a nice retro Black Forest gateaux for dessert. We finish just in time for sail away and head up to deck 14 to watch as Fantasia slips her mooring and heads out of Abu Dhabi.
I recall we ended up in the nightclub at some point but I don’t remember what time we got to bed though.
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