Capital of the oil-rich nation of Oman, Muscat is the country’s political, economic, and commercial hub. Situated between the Arabian Sea and the rocky Western Al Hajar Mountains, Muscat is described in the travel literature as “an exciting mix of medieval, traditional, and modern architecture with an ambiance all its own.” The local pilot is refusing to come on board to guide us into and out of the port, so Captain Lars brought us into Port Sultan Qaboos with an expert and steady hand. The dry, rocky hills dwarf the city below, but impressive forts, mosques, and incredible private yachts can be seen from the ship. Unfortunately, this is just about all we’ll see of Muscat, as this has turned into another “technical stop” where we’ll pick up supplies and fuel. It’s a beautiful day here, so here are a few pictures from the sun deck. It looks like a pretty nice place to visit!
We haven’t posted for a few days for several reasons. First, the wi-fi has been very sketchy through the Arabian Sea. Two days ago, the crew added razor wire to the perimeter of the second floor and private armed security will be with us as we navigate the waters where there is a risk of pirate activity (one more thing!) This is done with an abundance of caution, and shouldn’t raise any more concern than everything else that’s going on in the world. In addition, our itinerary and plans continue to be very fluid, and we didn’t want to share anything until we had a pretty firm idea of what Viking is planning for us going forward.
But before we share the latest, please allow us to reiterate how wonderful Viking has been through all of this. Port after port has denied us entry, and yet the competent, cheerful crew continues to go far above and beyond to ensure our health, safety, and comfort. Overall, the mood is upbeat and people are making the best of it (not really difficult on a luxury cruise ship with a current crew/passenger ratio of about 1.5/1!)
We’ve been through multiple health screenings, and since no new passengers have been allowed to come on-board since Sydney on February 12th, we believe we might just be the healthiest place in the world right now! A wise decision was made several days ago to cancel plans for any more sightseeing ports. And yesterday, another really difficult decision was made, again putting our health and safety paramount. After today’s supply stop in Muscat, we will sail directly to Dubai. All non-US citizens (about 50 passengers, mostly Aussies) will disembark to fly home. We were given the option to fly all the way to the US as well, but quite frankly, given the risks of taking multiple long flights through contaminated airports and rapidly closing borders, we decided to take option B along with about 300 other Americans. After Dubai, the Viking Sun will sail through the Suez Canal and the Mediterranean Sea making technical stops as needed. After that, we will make a trans-Atlantic crossing to a US port on the east coast that has yet to be determined. This, we all believe, will optimize the likelihood that we will reach the US without contamination of COVID-19. Once we reach the US, we’ll see what’s next. Of course, all of this is subject to change, but this is another area in which Viking has excelled. We’re getting frequent updates as circumstances change, and the ship’s executives have been available and accessible, especially when the news isn’t great and passengers have difficult questions.
So that’s the latest! We’re watching the world news carefully, and thinking good thoughts and saying prayers for our loved ones back home. We’re proud of your resilience in dealing with the risks, ambiguities, shortages, and other difficulties you’re enduring in your efforts to flatten the curve. We’re especially grateful to all of our relatives and friends in healthcare and other essential jobs who are putting everything on the line every day so that others can live. Know that you hold a special place in our hearts and prayers. This isn’t the season any of us planned, but it’s the one we’re given while so many around the world, and even in our own communities, don’t have the options we have. We’ll post from time to time so that you know where we are and what we’re up to. And we’ll close this post with the same advice our dear captain has been giving us at the end of each of his messages: Take care of yourselves, and take care of one another!