Unusually, we arrive in daylight and having had a reasonably comfortable crossing we approach the port of Muscat, distinct white buildings in the shadow of a barren, brown landscape. It must be the fastest docking we have had for a while, from starting my GoPro to turning it off, 27 minutes flat 🙂
As we arrived in the evening, many guests take advantage of going ashore to enjoy the night market and sights of Muscat in the evening. We, on the other hand will go ashore the following morning. A shuttle-bus takes us from the ship to the seafront stop, conveniently next to the Muscat Souk(or Market). We have been here before of course and nothing seems to have changed; the same stalls, the same goods and the same prices.
After a brief interlude while the ladies shopped, we jumped into a 6-seater and headed for Qurum, a district of Muscat, near some of the beaches to the west. Somewhat disappointed really, long stretches of sand, mainly deserted, with cafes and restaurants. I could not pass the Costa coffee shop without having a Latte; Costa is well known in the U.K. and their coffee is superb. While I waited for this, the ladies were off into a hotel lounge, sipping Turkish coffee and, when they saw gentlemen enjoying flavoured tobacco in their hookahs, found the temptation to try too much, a mild strawberry flavour, which they found delightful.
I returned to the ship, having left the ladies to a 2nd raid into the Souk, me carrying the first foray’s swag; a bad move on my part, as it meant they could refill without having to carry the first ones. 🙄
We were meant to depart at 5 p.m. however, as fate would have it, 2 trucks, loaded with stores decided to turn up. We needed their contents and we eventually left the berth just after 6 p.m. The pilot displayed no wish to join us and so it was a reasonably fast exit.
We are now on our way to Aqaba, Jordan and the purpose of our call, Petra. Our route takes us south-west, paralleling the coast of Oman to a waypoint at the eastern end of the IRTC, (International Recommended Transit Corridor). This is a routing system for vessels going to, or from the Red Sea, regularly patrolled by warships, these also provide a convoy system for slower vessels and escort them down the IRTC. My ‘hotspot’ is Yemen, passing within 1½ miles at our closest approach, as we use the Traffic System lanes. We will be going through at 23+ knots and in daylight. More on that one later……..