pirates of the gulf of aden

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April 3rd 2019
Published: April 3rd 2019
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today the arcadia is leaving the gulf of aden and heading into the red sea. for the past few nights we have been traveling at top speeds of 21 knots making sure to outrun pirate ships. these pirates are not like jack sparrow, they are from somalia. we all had to partake in an anti-piracy drill. everyone with outside cabins had to go into their corridor and sit on the floor away from their cabin door. and if you had an inside cabin they were to stay inside with the door locked. it was a chance to see who all of your neighbours are. we have had armed guards on board and are being escorted by the royal navy. at dusk the promenade deck is closed until dawn with the guards keeping watch. they have rigged up water hoses all around the ship on deck 3 to hose off any attempted attackers. yes, here on the arcadia we don't use cannon balls, we use water. all of the curtains on the ship are drawn closed at night, and boy does it make for an amazing dark night when the ship is in total black out. each evening i sit on my
balcony gazing up at the stars. there are so many and so bright. you feel like you can reach up and touch them.

in mumbai most of the crew got off to visit with their families. i thought aten had only 2 hours leave but he had a full day with his family. my cabin steward janice is married to a man from mumbai and he works on the aurora, which is another p&o ship, so she went off to have a visit with her in laws. i asked aten how it went and he said his belly was so full with all of his mom's mumbai street food. he was very happy. he is only 21.

mumbai, formerly bombay, is actually built on a small island joined to mainland india by an artificial causeway. there are over 12 million people in the city and, with an enormous amount of homeless and jobless arriving daily there is a severe problem of overcrowding resulting in slum areas growing up on the outskirts of the city, like in the great film slumdog millionaire.

i wasn't sure what to expect when we got to mumbai, but i was quite pleasantly surprised. sure it was busy and noisy and hot, but i couldn't believe how many beautiful old victorian buildings there were. the streets were very clean and the city was so green! lots of large old trees lining all of the main streets providing welcomed shade, and some beautiful city parks with nicely arranged flower beds. the first stop on our tour was to a hari krishna hindu temple. very beautiful inside with lots of gold and crystal chandeliers. the worshipers were all singing and dancing when we first arrived. then it was off to the outdoor laundry facility. laundry men collect working peoples laundry then bring it to this mass area and wash it all by hand. then they rinse it and bang it against the walls of the cement tubs. afterwards it is hung on rows and rows of lines to dry. everywhere we stopped we were approached by young street urchins, barefoot and grubby. we were told not to give them anything because if you give to one then there would be 20. the soles of their feet must be like leather to be able to stand on that hot pavement with no shoes. their parents send them out to work the streets. next we went to some very pretty hanging gardens. there was a nice view point there but because of the heat and smog it was too hazy to see anything. i had to use the toilet there which was just a porcelain hole in the ground. i had to squat over it with nothing to hang on to. my knees aren't as strong as they used to be. ok pants up and off to ghandi's home where he lived from 1917 to 1934 which has been made into a museum. then to the prince of wales museum where we only had half an hour to browse. not enough time. so i just went to the natural history section to look at all of the tigers and bears and birds. our final stop was to see the gateway of india. this monument is mumbai's main landmark. it was built in 1927 to commemorate the visit of king george V and queen mary. i thought i'd see more cows on the roads but only saw 2. i would go back to mumbai but only with a local to show me around properly.

crossing the
arabian sea was calm and uneventful. we had 2 days at sea before reaching dubai. the captain told us the arabian sea is considered a dead sea because there is no oxygen in the water the deeper you go. some kind of natural occurring phenomenon. so we didn't see any sea life at all, or fishing boats. one of the solo ladies on my table was getting off in dubai so she had a party in her cabin one night before dinner with appies and champagne. other friends were invited as well. now there are only 4 of us at my dining table. mike and tony still, and a new lady from hamilton, scotland named mary. and she has been to white rock! on sundays there is a church service aboard the arcadia. at 9:50 am the church bells are rung over the intercom from the bridge. it is usually the captain or the deputy captain that performs the service. they also do weddings at sea. we have had some more good shows. last night there was a john denver tribute artist performing, and on thursday he is doing a tribute to neil diamond. at 4:15 every day at sea there is a pimm's special. pimm's is a fruity gin drink they serve at wimbeldon. as far as the food goes, i thought i'd ever say this but i am getting kinda tired of eating. my favourite meals have been the great curries and all of the lamb dishes. and on black tie nights they serve a tasty stilton cheese with port in it. i am quite pleased with the location of my cabin. it is nicely situated on deck 4 of the ship, with the promenade deck just below me and all of the shops and bars and services on that deck as well. then on deck 2 more bars and the theater, disco and restaurant. the only time i have a bit of a trek is when i go to the buffet and pool on 9 or the crow's nest bar on 10 with it's 180 degree views.

in dubai the weather was perfect. sunny and only 27 degrees with no humidity. i bought myself a 1 day pass for the hop on hop off open bus tour. they are a pretty good value for the money. before going ashore we were given some guidelines on how
to behave while in dubai. women had to dress conservatively. no alchohol or pornographic material should be found on you. and if you are a couple there was to be no public signs of affection such as hugging or holding hands or kissing. i didn't have to worry about that. 😊

dubai is a city of skyscrapers and malls. i am glad i've seen it but i don't think i would go back there for a holiday. the city oozes wealth. beautiful new wide roads with expensive sports cars racing along. even the police cars are mercedes and ferrari's. plenty of 5 star hotels and designer shopping malls. there were 2 large ships in port with us so the bus was full of americans and germans. my only hop off was at the old souk. i wanted to have a wander through and purchase a few souveniers. boy i hate bartering. i picked up a few things and the souk man gave me a price of $200.00 US. yeah right. i walked out of there with everything paying only $20.00 which was probably paying too much. it was a friday when i was there so the souk was closing
early. fridays are holy days and are spent praying and with family. their call to prayer was blasting all throughout the city. i spent the entire day on that bus and didn't get back to the ship until 7 pm. it's hard to believe that in the 1830's dubai was just a small fishing port dependent on fishing and pearl diving. alongside the ship were dozens of large jelly fish. i saw a documentary on my tv about these jelly fish and how they are destroying the fishing industry along the asian coast and spreading quickly. the fishermen's nets are just bringing in nets full of jellies and no fish.

the next morning i woke up already in muscat, oman. i watched from my balcony the massive german ship the aida dock beside us. it has a few more decks and a lot more balcony cabins. too big for my liking. from what i could see through my binoculars the balconies look smaller, but they do have hammocks strung across them. and i like their balcony doors better. they slide open instead of closing like a door. there was a strong smell of petrol in the air from the oil refineries scattered along the coast. when we were at sea i could see some oil rigs out in the distance. i decided not to get off the ship that day. i'd give my eyes and brain a rest, and it was very hot! muscat is the financial and economic centre of oman. from what i could see from the ship muscat is very rocky and arid. i could also see some medieval forts in the distance. his highness sultan qaboos bin said has been the chief of state and head of government since 1970.

since oman we have been full speed ahead to get out of the danger zone as quickly as possible. i haven't seen one pirate or even the royal navy escort ship come to think of it. however i did spend almost 2 hours on my balcony watching and photographing dozens of beautiful sea birds flying alongside the ship. they came so close to my balcony. once at the front of the ship they would fall to the back and start all over again. they kept this up for hours. not sure what they were. i'm hoping my vancouver friends from the arcadia will know? they were much larger than a gull. i even got pooped on twice. similar to spitting into the wind only sh****ng into the wind. my mother always told me this is a lucky sign and i should go out and buy a lottery ticket. no lottery on the arcadia but there is a casino where i managed to win 6 pounds on the slot machine!

i will try to write my next blog after israel.

cruisin susan x

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7th April 2019

I am really enjoying your blog! I think you are very brave, especially going on your own in the male dominated countries. Thanks for sharing!!
9th April 2019

thank you lisa
yes it has been a great experience and adventure so far. glad you are enjoying the blog. susan :)

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