We got a text from Costa Cruises on Saturday morning to say that our cruise home from Dubai had been cancelled and that we would get a free refund and they would pay for our flight home. It was a huge relief to be honest. I was having increasing anxiety about getting on and then being trapped all the way to Italy and then not being able to get home from there……. We made some calls to them and then Bob went down to the cruise terminal to see them face to face to just make absolutely sure of procedures. Obviously, with it all being so sudden, we wanted to be sure.
Lucy and I went off to get manicures. Priorities obviously……… My nails took a battering in Jordan so I needed to get them cut and sorted out. Job done. Then we went down to the cruise terminal and picked Bob up. The Costa Diadema was right there on the dock, along with about 7 other ships. Hardly any people about. I think all the previous passengers had been disembarked some days ago and many of the incomers had been caught before leaving home. Anyway, the Costa rep. gave Bob two alternatives: they would arrange our flight and it would probably be that night, or we could arrange our own and they would reimburse. We opted for the latter, to give ourselves a bit more time and also to spend a last couple of days with Lu. Not sure when we’ll see her again as she will be unable to leave Dubai and we will be unable to visit.
Bob had already booked us with Emirates to fly back on Wednesday afternoon, getting into Gatwick at 630pm and arranged a taxi to take us home. I have done a Tescos order for Thursday morning first thing. We have quite a lot of food in the house and freezer so not unduly worried about that. We are just obviously short on fresh veg, bread, milk and eggs. Absolutely no problems ordering loads of fresh veg from Tescos and interestingly enough cold and flu meds. I noticed they were out of basmati rice, loo rolls and dried pasta though…… We ordered more flour so we could make our own if necessary. I am very shocked by the photos of people going mad in the supermarkets and buying multiple huge packs of loo roll, decimating the shelves etc. They must be absolutely stupid as well as totally selfish.
Anyway, arrangements made, we drove down to Kite Beach one of the most popular public beaches in Dubai and had a walk along the boardwalk. It was very hazy and overcast today, although extremely warm. Plenty of people on the beach. We stopped at a food truck and got a bit of lunch. Grilled chicken and salad.
We had a dinner booking on the QE2, now permanently moored up in Dubai as a floating hotel/restaurant venue. Originally, because we were not sailing from Dubai till Sunday, we booked this dinner as a farewell dinner with Lucy, thinking we would have checked into our cabin, and would just get off and go. Well, of course, that had changed, but we thought it was still a nice thing to do. We sailed on the QE2 once, into New York, in late August 2001, just before 9/11. Another world changing event we have lived through.
The ship looked spiffy. They have done her up well, although a lot of internal changes to make her a hotel. The ballroom is still there apparently but we couldn’t find it and there wasn’t a lot of staff around. We wanted to eat outside, so instead of the swanky Queen’s Grill, we opted to eat in the Pavilion restaurant which is on the aft quarterdeck. Had a very nice meal of grilled king prawns. I have to say the service was very poor, although friendly, and Lucy said it hadn’t improved since she ate here a few months ago. They will have to improve that if they want to make a success of the ship. Too much competition otherwise. I will confess to being a bit disappointed. I was expecting more of a Cunard level of service and experience (although obviously it has nothing to do with Cunard anymore) and it was far below that. Perhaps we should have tried the Queen’s Grill fine dining restaurant.
As we ate, we heard a ship’s horn sounding and looked up to see Costa Diadema sailing off, empty of passengers, into the night. That will be an odd trip for the crew aboard I imagine.
So, just a few days left here now and then back to the increasingly frightening UK. I read in the papers that those 70 and over are to be confined to the house even if they are not ill. This will impact Bob of course, and therefore me too. I can understand it as they need to try and keep those who are more likely to need acute beds and resuscitators as safe as possible to limit demands on the NHS which is going to be utterly swamped. I hope this will also mean this group will be first to the vaccine when it is finally ready. I am frightened but more about the economic fallout from this disaster than about personal health implications for us. I worry what will be left for many of our young people if businesses are forced to close down for months….. and I worry about what will be the impact on our ever shrinking pension pot too. Only time will tell and we must just take a day at a time and be watchful and do our best.