Karachi to Dubai Dream Cruise – A Review

Gulf Dream CruiseYesterday I had the opportunity to have dinner on the ‘hype of the town’ Dubai Dream Cruises. Before I begin, I would like to issue a disclaimer more so to make you aware of the frame of mind I had while walking up the gangplank to enter the Gulf Dream Cruise vessel. I have previously taken a cruise to the Caribbean upon the Celebrity vessel managed by Carnival Cruise Liners, it was a superb experience with excellent food and amazing entertainment. At the same time many Pakistanis have been relating the ship to the amazing footage they saw in the movie Titanic which in its time captured the heart of millions. Despite my experience, and the splendor of the Titanic I will attempt to review this experience with neutrality leaving my own critique to the end.

The ship was located on a berth at the West Wharf and one could easily see the ship in the distance if you were to drive on the Keamari Bridge and gaze in the general direction of the West Wharf, the ship was well lit in the darkness with a stream of fairy lights. Directional signs led us to the KPT yard from where we were shuttled to the berth. We were dropped on the aft of the ship and walked our way to midship where a gangplank extended upwards about four stories high, during the walk alongside, the ship was a mid-size vessel and apparently a little old with as the hull condition showed signs of many adventures in the high seas around the globe. The walkway I assume was provided by the KPT as it was a flimsy staircase of thin metal sheets unsteady on each step for those who dared to walk the plank, all concerns were put to ease as we reached the entrance of the ship where the boarding party greeted us with amazing smiles and the tornado draft of much needed air conditioning to soak up the dampness that was lingering in the Karachi air.

Once inside the ship we were free to walk and explore the vessel without any restrictions, the maze of corridors and passageways was confusing to say the least and everyone around was lost, occasionally in the maze you would bump into someone you happened to know and have a few words then commence into the never ending maze of corridors, it was fun. The crew, predominantly Indonesian and Russian was stationed around in strategic locations to help the ‘very lost souls’ on board. Communication with the crew would have to be predominantly be in rustic English (as the Indonesians and Russians cant be said to have impeccable pronunciation – so as they say tooti-phooti english chaal jayie gee) even then there should be a sizable crew to cater to our Urdu speaking community also, which I think might be a problem

Gulf Dream Cruise CasinoOf all the luck, the first place we walked into was the Casino (maybe the casino Gods were at work – though I have never gambled) which was lined with slot machines enough to satisfy the gambling urge in all Pakistanis, generally I saw a noticeable absence of Black Jack, Roulette or even Poker tables, which are an essential component of a casino but in a cruise ship man power is generally kept to a bare minimum with many multi tasking individuals on board. Casino is probably the main entertainment available for the five-day cruise, for many it could very well be the sole purpose to spend 35,000 for a room (consider it as an entrance fee to heaven [or hell]).

Walking through the casino we entered the main dining restaurant called ‘King & I’ where a wide selection of buffet awaited us to be served a little later in the evening, the restaurant was impressive to be able to cater easily for two seatings (early and late) with some elegant table settings bringing the overall dining experience comparable to a buffet at PC or Sheraton. The close proximity to the casino served a very interesting purpose if I might add, strategically positioned to attract customers while they take a casual stroll to the restaurant every lunch or dinner.

Beyond the dining area was the spacious entertainment auditorium called ‘My Fair Lady Salon’ located towards the extreme front of the ship, where a musical band entertained the guest on stage in front of a with a brightly lit dance floor while waitresses scurried around to serve drinks luckily todays menu was limited to only fizzy drinks on the house, but later the cork popping alcoholic beverages await the open seas

The other end of the ship was a cinema which at this time was playing an Indian flick starring Shahrukh Khan, the overall seating seemed to comfortable but I feel the projector could have been better as during the day it would easily be drowned in the sunlight despite heavy drapery. The cruise faring passengers can enjoy a few outings to the big screen as an added entertainment value on this cruise.

Gulf Dream Cruise PoolHeading upwards we landed on to the pool deck, ample to accommodating a good evening crowd which can take it easy on the abundant deck chairs around the pool. The pool sadly would not & should not be called a swimming pool at all, I would compare it to any paddle pool with one shallow end and the deep end measuring 2 meters the hilarious part was the unsuspecting pool had a sign plastered on the side warning stating ‘No Diving’ brilliant I thought, I’d be lucky to get a place even if 7-10 people decided to jump in. The pool had nothing for the over-tanned brown-skin Pakistanis who are not sun bathing freaks so I think the sun deck will generally remain deserted during the day with a few sparing individuals who may choose to brave the winter sun fully drenched in SPF-100.

Gulf Dream Cruise SukhbirWe wandered around a bit more to discover that there was another bar cum dance floor to the aft of the ship, along with a few scattered massage parlors, a gym and a baby sitting center somewhere in the two happening decks of the cruise liner. The evening hosted by Geo and Jang was supposed to end with a concert by Sukhbir on the Sun Deck after a buffet diner at King & I. We did not stay long after our tour as the buffet paled against a tempting offer for dinner at Sakura (PC).

The only part we were unable to inspect were the staterooms which were closed to the public, but a look around in the corridor gave an impression of neatness comparable to a hotel room but a little cramped for space. The Rs. 55,000 suites are located on the Main Deck, within easy access to all amenities, the lower classification of rooms were situated on the floors beneath with a small pot hole offering a breath taking view of the ocean. One important aspect to even the pricey suites was the apparent absence of a private balcony which can be an added advantage to the long hours between ports. With or without balconies, this cruise can be great for honeymooners who may avail the services before its last sailing date scheduled for February 27, 2007.

Critique: Apparently it appeared to be a neat and clean ship but was undoubtedly an old vessel, it was considerably small as to the one we used to tour the Caribbeans. The cleanliness was decent but found lacking in certain areas specially a very strange smell around the casino areas.

If you happen to have no qualms with drinking and the quick get-rich temptation of slot machines then five days may seem too short for the crore-patti within you, but if you are far from these temptations then plan accordingly, take books and the works, I assure you TV entertainment is usually nothing to write home about, and once on the ship the only way off is to take the Leonardo de’Caprio route in the Titanic.

Bottom line is that for a ticketed price of Rs.35,000 – Rs 55,000 I feel its not a bad deal, the overall experience can be comparable to entering a three-star hotel like Carlton or Reagent Plaza (in Karachi), as they say ‘you get what you paid for’ and being the first modern-day cruise out of Pakistan its not bad to start as the economics of a higher price tag would have kept the majority away.

Gulf Dream CruiseThe biggest problem I see if that the 8-10 hours stay in Dubai is too short for our Dubai-crazy Pakistani people. A day or so in port at Dubai would have been the icing, as one could enjoy two days on the ship going into UAE, relax while enjoying the sights and sounds of Dubai and return home with the fanfare of Dubai Dream Cruise. Maybe another venture capitalist could plan along these lines maybe next winter and again become the star attraction for Pakistan more on a permanent basis. Should be a great experience for those who have not been on a cruise, report back here and update us on where I was wrong, as my 2 hours on board will surely be different to actually living the five days.

Larger images can be found on my blog Teeth Maestro

29 Comments so far

  1. Kumail (unregistered) on November 8th, 2006 @ 2:12 am

    Is it going to be functional between the nov – feb months every year or is it just for this one season?

  2. IllusionFS (unregistered) on November 8th, 2006 @ 4:50 am

    A very good effort Doctor sahab, excellent detailed review.

    But I dont know why I am put off by the review, and this whole idea seems boring. Weird.

  3. Mona (unregistered) on November 8th, 2006 @ 5:18 am

    Out of curiosity, how much does it cost?

  4. Haseeb A (unregistered) on November 8th, 2006 @ 5:57 am

    Thanks for the review :)
    Now we are waiting for someone who has experienced the full 5 days

  5. casino (unregistered) on November 8th, 2006 @ 6:26 am

    Nice review! Thanks!
    Any idea how the slot machines are supposed to work? Do passengers need to buy tokens? If so, how much? How big are the prizes?

  6. Captain's Log (unregistered) on November 8th, 2006 @ 6:43 am

    Dr. Sahib, you are full of self appraisal :-). Typical Pakistani attitude. Would not ever forget to mention dinner at Sakura given a chance :-).

    Any how, how did you end up there? Was there some sort of party there ?? The price is too low by the way so it means that you would have to pay for even water bottle at cruise I guess.

  7. xia (unregistered) on November 8th, 2006 @ 8:55 am

    how dare they bring gambling and alcohol near my city?

    I wish this was our attitude to this type of khurafats. But then we would be labeled as fundamentalists/hardliners/islamists etc. etc.

    [2:219] They ask you about intoxicants and gambling: say, “In them there is a gross sin, and some benefits for the people. But their sinfulness far outweighs their benefit.” They also ask you what to give to charity: say, “The excess.” GOD thus clarifies the revelations for you, that you may reflect,

    [5:90] O you who believe, intoxicants, and gambling, and the altars of idols, and the games of chance are abominations of the devil; you shall avoid them, that you may succeed.

    [5:91] The devil wants to provoke animosity and hatred among you through intoxicants and gambling, and to distract you from remembering GOD, and from observing the Contact Prayers (Salat). Will you then refrain?

  8. Abdul Sami (unregistered) on November 8th, 2006 @ 10:23 am

    i dont have much knowledge bout cruises, do all of them work only in the winter season?

  9. Teeth Maestro (unregistered) on November 8th, 2006 @ 12:20 pm

    @Kumail – I think for the time being its only for 4 months – a future venture will dependent a lot on the success or failure of this cruise liner

    @Illusion – Yep, I too think its not worth it. but thats my personal opinion

    @Mona – ranges from 35,000 – 55,000

    @Captains Log – I was going to delete the reference but then I had to justify my skipping out on the dinner and Sukhbir

    @Abdul Sami – technically no they generally do work year round but for the Pakistan market they choose the cooler months, which I think is better as no one would head out into the heat of summer

  10. Adnan Siddiqi (unregistered) on November 8th, 2006 @ 3:03 pm

    Doc it seems that you have screwed the main CSS theme of the site.

  11. Abdul Sami (unregistered) on November 8th, 2006 @ 3:20 pm

    I think they could better earn in summer vacations but then who will take their children to casino, boozes & dances etc is another question.

  12. llama (unregistered) on November 8th, 2006 @ 8:45 pm

    Thank you for the detailed review. If before i was contemplating it, now i am decidedly against it and will advise anyone still wanting to take the cruise to read this review first.

  13. Fikarmand (unregistered) on November 8th, 2006 @ 10:00 pm

    How is fahaashi and BayHayaee at the Cruise as our Gunahgaar eyes saw in Titanic??

    Would we see wall chalking for MQM AND Jammatis at the Dream cruise?

    What if there is a fight over girls and boys throw the girl’s brother/Aashiq in the ocean. How can we save em to be shark’s dinner?

    consider the fact that 30,000 to 55,000 RS. paid by passengers, telling robbers the set of folks are rich, there will be no robberies, phone snatchings and kidnappings in the dream cruise?

    What if we are in middle of ocean and KESC stop the electric supply or workers union has to go on strike.

    What if there are pathans on the cruise?

  14. JAY (unregistered) on November 8th, 2006 @ 10:09 pm

    Teeth. Super review.

  15. IllusionFS (unregistered) on November 8th, 2006 @ 10:32 pm

    Adnan: I saw that coming :D

    Fikarmand, u worry too much.

  16. IHATEBURGERBACCHAY (unregistered) on November 9th, 2006 @ 12:05 am

    So are they planning to have a cruise that actually the avg. non-secular fundamentalist joe in Pakistan could enjoy?

  17. Kar-Achi Battian (unregistered) on November 9th, 2006 @ 1:30 am

    @ Fikarmand, you spoiled the whole posting at the end. Your comments about “Pathans” are have the racist stench. It is totally uncalled for.

  18. ash (unregistered) on November 9th, 2006 @ 1:45 am

    non secular fundos dont need a cruise to get their kicks. I think they generally cross the border to catch a good stoning or hanging. cruise 35,000 dollars, watching exhibits in cruelty priceless.

  19. IllusionFS (unregistered) on November 9th, 2006 @ 5:15 am

    Ash, its rupees. lol

  20. Mariam (unregistered) on November 9th, 2006 @ 6:13 am

    Hopefully, there will be others and competitive prices may able to cater middle class masses too.

    I’m surprised that there are no negative comments on the mention of alcohol and gambling. Is it because the owners are fellow Muslims :D.

  21. Mariam (unregistered) on November 9th, 2006 @ 6:18 am

    Any way I hope in the future Pakistanis businessmen too able to benefit from this industry by introducing some local cruises.

  22. ash (unregistered) on November 9th, 2006 @ 7:02 am

    rupees, rupees of course :)

  23. ash (unregistered) on November 9th, 2006 @ 7:05 am

    rupees, rupees of course :)

  24. Arsalaan Haleem (unregistered) on November 9th, 2006 @ 2:03 pm

    A brilliant review. A beautiful and a quite a relevant post as compared to what we were getting during the last few days.

    As always, Dr. Awab, your posts are always a treat to read….keep it up.

  25. WASIQ (unregistered) on November 10th, 2006 @ 1:37 am

    thankgod we finally have something to save us from the mother-in-laws…..,

    personally,iam not into drinking as it will only complicate things for the security and the protocol,and gambling…well i cannot handle winning large sums of easy money because no matter how much you win its always a little short of what you could have done with it…..so the only reason why i might want to take a cruise to a place of which iam not very fond off,is watching black tie (american) and ball gowns….the formal dresses which are not even rarely seen here in karachi since the lawn party culture began in the early eighties….iam not sure why maybe to save on airconditioning/electricity…..iam sure sir you have seen how people of karachi show up dressed in their night suits at dinners in five star hotels and clubs….as well now….

    The ticket range of Rs 35-55 000 seems very reasonable to me….

    I hope everybody have a safe and memorable journey on this cruise…THANKYOU.

  26. abbas halai (unregistered) on November 10th, 2006 @ 7:09 pm

    denying the fact that alcohol and gambling are non-existent in karachi is pretty lame. just because it is illegal, doesn’t mean it’s not as rampant as it always has been.

  27. ayesha (unregistered) on November 13th, 2006 @ 3:47 pm

    it was on dubai’s intv news last night…the first cruise was a fiasco..went very unorganized,people getting off were complaining,and commented it as ” waste of money,not worth it!!””

  28. Demi (unregistered) on November 16th, 2006 @ 12:13 pm

    What’s with so much Mullahpun here. Look at Malaysia . They have open bars and discos and those Muslims indulge in neither (been and lived there so i can talk with some authority). It’s only in Pakistan that we have these problems. If someone wanna do, than let em do it. If it’s open, than it loses it’s charm. Otherwise, an Absolut Vodka bottle goes for Rs.2000 each in Black. You’re wasting double your foreign exchange and still not stopping anything.

    Islam should be a personal thing. Not a thing to be subjected on each and every person you know.

  29. sarmad (unregistered) on November 23rd, 2006 @ 11:21 am

    the review is a bit show offy on the authors part though
    “OOOH they are so low class and im too high society”
    annyways will take the cruise regardless the only problem is that i fear me and the wife will be surrounded by a bunch of rich and middle class pakistani lossers who either will be trying their best to act as total snobs or for the remainder ” drunk loosers “.

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