Dubai for Christmas!

We flew to Dubai on Thursday 21 December 2017 to join Mike and Gretchen for our first Christmas in a warm climate. Our first non conventional Christmas. We did have one Christmas out of the UK in 2000 when Mike was in his gap year working for Mark Warner in Val d’Isere.

All the Smiths and Holts were there, but the star of the group was Granny Jean, then in her eighties. She had skied as a young lady in the days when you climbed the mountain in the morning, carrying your skis over your shoulder. After struggling to the top, you had just the one run down to the village. Then to the tea dance! There were no ski lifts in those days.

But I digress.

Andy was the driver. A great friend of Brian Kelly. Andy has a big Merc and it was easy to pour Jane into the front seat. Earlier, when I told Andy that I needed his registration number for Virgin check in, he knew it meant we were favoured Virgins. Turn left to Upper Class is the cry. So as we approached Heathrow’s Terminal 3 we watched carefully for that left turn and the ramp which took us straight to check in. Gretchen had done her stuff. We were expected and our luggage was whisked away within minutes.

Assistance arrived rapidly to take us to the Upper Class lounge where we were fed and wined while we waited for boarding. The upgrade must have been as a result of our celebrity. No. It was all down to Gretchen’s influence. We were delighted and when it came to boarding we were on first and seated before the rush.

After 6 hours and some snoozing we were above some of the Dubai sights – the Burj al Arab and the nearby sky scrapers. Soon after landing the assistance personnel did a great job getting Jane from her seat and into the wheel chair and whisking us through immigration. And there was Mike waiting for us.

His smart Audi Quattro awaited us and we were soon on our way to the Le Meridien Hotel on Jumeira Beach.


You thought this was a cruise blog?

On the journey from the airport Mike asked if there were any places we wanted to visit during our stay. In the past we had been to the top of the World’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa; we had had tea in the 6 star Hotel the Burj al Arab. We had been to the souks and the ski slope. We had shopped in the vast Malls.

But of course it was the QE2 that I wanted to see. Jane and I had travelled to Dubai on QE2’s final voyage at the end of 2008 after QE2 had been sold to Dubai for $50million. In 2012 when we were on the new Queen Elizabeth’s World voyage we had a day in Dubai and I tried to get aboard QE2. I walked up the gangway, but was barred by security. I told them that my Dad had once been Captain, but that didn’t work and I was marched off!

So on Saturday Mike drove us to Port Rashid. I knew that after 9 years of inactivity the much loved QE2 had been moved within the port. There were reports that the lifeboats and tenders had been removed. Other reports on QE2 websites hinted at conversion work on the interior, with rumours that at last the ship was to be turned into a hotel with various restaurants.

It was very foggy, but we could see the ship near to the road.

I thought that might be the best we could do, but eventually Mike found a way in and soon we were close to what appeared to be a new terminal building, with QE2 behind it. I took some photos from a distance, but as I got closer the security people pointed at a ‘No cameras’ sign.

There were teams of workmen being bussed in and out and plenty of activity.

We then left the scene and while looking for an exit came across the ‘missing’ lifeboats and tenders. It seems that they are being assembled as some sort of exhibit.

Reports on Christmas in Dubai to follow shortly!