Cruising:Bridging the gap 3 week Suez cruise for under £1300...
Ships have been built at a blistering rate over recent years meaning cruise line companies have had to look at appealing to a wider audience to keep passenger numbers up. The cost of cruising has also come down in real terms, making cruising more accessable to more people. Jason Harris writes about his recent honeymoon cruise onboard Royal Caribbean’s Voyager of The Seas.
The wedding was now pretty much organised and now it was my job as the groom to find that perfect honeymoon location which would provide those unforgettable memories, so my search began in earnest...
We wanted a really relaxing holiday where we'd be well looked after and spoilt! We love the sun but also like the opportunity to soak up some culture whilst on holiday and we were hoping for at least two weeks so we could fully relax and unwind, plus, we didn't want a really long flight where we'd be tired for the first few days of the holiday.
I stumbled on a fantastic offer of a 15 night Royal Caribbean cruise from Barcelona to Dubai with an extra 3 nights at a luxury 5 star hotel in Dubai before we flew back home for only £995 each including flights and transfers and even an extra £75 to spend onboard!
Most Cruise Lines tend to levy a gratuity on all onboard accounts at the end of the holiday which is then given to the restaurant staff and cabin stewards who look after you during the cruise. These gratuities can add as much as £400+ to the holiday and can be an unexpected surprise so I opted to pay the discounted gratuity package upfront which added an extra £180 but avoided any nasty suprises. I'd also opted for the onboard flexible dining option called 'My Time Dining' so that we could have Dinner whatever time we liked rather than being tied into the standard first or second sitting dining arrangements.
The pool deck under the stars
We met 'Voyager of the Seas' in Barcelona late morning, freshened up in our cabin and went back ashore to experience the delights of cosmopolitan Barcelona with it's stunning architecture and talented street entertainers. After rejoining the ship for dinner, we later waved goodbye to Barcelona and Europe as the ship sailed into the night.
The first thing that hits you when onboard a modern cruise liner is the sheer size of the vessel, which in turn offers almost anything you could desire on a holiday including some impressive top class restaurants. There were six different restaurants on board from Johnny Rockets American diner serving luxury cheeseburgers to the very intimate, romantic surroundings of Portafinos Italian Restaurant, serving an array of mouthwatering seafood and steak dishes. The ship also had an ice- skating rink, a mini-golf course, a rock climbing wall and a luxury spa, not to mention the 1000 seater theatre showing top class shows.
Unforgettable landmarks 6 Life Begins
After three days at sea and feeling the weather getting steadily warmer as we travelled south, we arrived at Alexandria, Egypt, giving us the opportunity to embark on one of the many trips organised by the ship, from shopping excursions to visiting some of the ancient Eygptian landmarks.
We took the Pyramid tour which really has to be experienced 'in the flesh' to be fully appreciated. It was difficult to believe that these were built by humans some 4700 years ago.
Back on board in the evening, we were excited to be travelling down the Suez canal the next day. This man-made canal was built by the Egyptian government to help facilitate the easier transportation of goods from around the world. It's construction meant that in many cases weeks could be shaved off transportation times with ships no longer having to go around Africa to get to Europe. The canal is some 120 miles long and takes about 14 hours to travel. It was a strange experience to travel it in a luxury liner with land either side of the ship and people waving at you from their farms!
Once we reached the Red Sea we sailed onto Jordan and arrived early morning at Aqaba. The weather by now was extremely hot with temperatures into the late thirties (approx 100f). We braved it and went into town to browse for unique gifts. The people of the middle east were all very welcoming and were pleased to see us. Arabic people are very proud of the fact that hospitality is ingrained in their culture.
Boarding the ship early evening, we enjoyed a formal night (most evenings the dress code was just 'smart casual' but on two or three occasions there are smart/formal nights), giving us the opportunity to dress up in evening dresses and suits -although this is not obligatory and some people chose not to. After seeing the Best of Broadway show and experiencing a gala dinner we topped the night off in the ships 'Vault' night-club until the early hours. Everything on the cruise was included in the price apart from alcoholic drinks which were a similar price to what one would expect to pay in a pub back home.
The ship then cruised to Safaga in Egypt where we took an excursion out into the dessert in 4x4s to visit a Bedouin tribe and experience their culture. We even sampled some of their black tea which was delicious before returning to the ship for the long trip to Dubai
As we approached Dubai through the Gulf of Oman, the weather got noticeably warmer still, with the humidity so high that when we hung our towels on the balcony to dry they actually ended up wetter than when we put them out! We were determined not to complain however, knowing our friends and family in England were suffering cold winds and driving rain.
Once we reached Dubai we were transferred to our luxury spa hotel for the final 3 nights enjoying a villa right on the beach where we'd sip cocktails and watch the sun set over the water. Who could ask for more for a honeymoon? Perhaps a cruise is a possibility for our first anniversary next year...
Bedouin tribe welcomes us to their camp
Main picture: View of the Suez Canal from the Bridge
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