There are some situations when I should just trust my gut.
When Dubai Tourism provided us the itinerary for our hosted tour, I noticed that our second evening event was a Dubai Dhow cruise, in fact, a dinner cruise. I am not one for cruising, particularly of the dinner cruise variety. We took a 3 day cruise down the Yangtze River in 2009 and that was fine, although we did not really enjoy it, other than meeting some nice people. I did a Seine dinner cruise way back in 2000 during a study abroad. It was fun, but we were a large drunken group of law students, so you could put us facing a wall and give us unlimited wine and we could have a ball.
But, generally, I do not like the idea of sailing around a river, on a touristy boat, eating sub-par food, and being unable to leave until a specified time. Our friend in Doha suggested a Dhow dinner cruise for our trip to Doha a few days after. So, my thought was that, if it was good enough for him, that we would be okay with it. I should have trusted my gut.
As soon as we exited the car at the dock, I should have asked for an immediate return trip back to the hotel, but my cheapness kicked in and I thought, hey, if nothing else it was a free meal. How bad could it be?
We walked the red carpet onto the gangplank and joined a handful of others in the main cabin of the boat. It was strangely quiet, with an odd feeling. It was just something I could not shake. We decided to order a bottle of wine, which was both crappy and expensive, thinking we would need it to “get through the night.” Once we were underway, I noticed quickly that the boat was running in a very tight loop, which made me a little disappointed and slightly annoyed. This tiny loop was going to get old real quick.
We downed more of the hideous French “red” wine (served in a clear bottle with a twist off, like many of the best French wines). Then, the buffet line opened. It was a collection of some international dishes, like spaghetti bolognese, a chicken chow mein, a chicken and vegetable dish in a cream sauce, and other such items. I tried a little of what seemed promising, and it was all fairly inedible. I was utterly disappointed. Or, perhaps my expectations were met.
After dinner, we brought the rest of our wine and plate of somewhat palatable desserts up to the top level of the boat, to get some fresh air. I had noticed that we stopped circling and were heading out to the sea, down the Dubai creek. The scenery had improved, with many of the buildings lit up nicely. I was thrilled that we could at least enjoy the last hour of the three hour tour on top of the boat, but was also thrilled when the boat turned around and made its way back to the dock.
So, how did the Dubai Dhow Cruise rate on our Dubai itinerary? Definitely the worst part of it, by far. This was due to three primary reasons: 1) we are not dinner cruise people; 2) it would probably be more fun in a group; and 3) this was a budget or value cruise. The tour company that organized the tour also offers higher-end cruises with better food options, so my advice to you is to splurge on something more expensive if you are even remotely a foodie, or used to better quality.
Dubai Tourism hosted us for our tour of Dubai, but all of my opinions are my own.
Amber Hoffman, food and travel writer behind With Husband In Tow, is a recovering attorney and professional eater, with a passion for finding new food and drink destinations. She lives with her husband, Eric, in Girona, Catalonia, Spain. Together they have traveled to over 70 countries.