What could be better than a few more days of sunshine in the cold month of December? So we started thinking about where we could go. When planning our trip, it was important to us that the time difference was not so big for our little daughter, as we only had 10 days in total. Therefore, long-distance destinations such as Thailand or the Caribbean have unfortunately been omitted. Other destinations like the Canary Islands or Egypt can get quite chilly in December – especially in the evenings. So we decided to spend some days in Dubai with a subsequent cruise in the Orient. Dubai has only three hours time difference, the flights are still ok with six hours and there is actually almost always a sun guarantee. But first we spent three days of our vacation in the All-Inclusive Hotel RIU Dubai.
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Our flight with Emirates from Frankfurt to Dubai
The flight with Emirates from Frankfurt to Dubai went smoothly and was on time. We estimate that the flight also only to max. was 50% full, so there was plenty of room on the plane. When we arrived at Dubai airport around 7 pm, there was nothing going on there at all. It felt like our plane was the only one that landed at that time, because we actually didn’t see passengers from other flights at all. Immigration was super fast and the suitcases arrived quite quickly.
What we found really mega: all tourists currently automatically receive a free SIM card from local telecom providers upon arrival at Dubai International Airport at immigration, which includes 1GB of mobile data and is valid for 24 hours. This service seems to be quite new, as we had not received it during our last visit to Dubai in 2021. In any case, this is a really good service!
At the airport in Dubai you have free wifi everywhere. After we had our bags, we ordered an UBER to get to our hotel. There are 3 well signposted UBER pick-up zones at Dubai Airport, depending on which terminal you arrive at. For the approximately 11 kilometer and 20 minute ride from the airport to the hotel, we paid a total of 95 AED, the equivalent of about 24 EUR, for an UBER XL.
All-Inclusive Hotel RIU Dubai
Around 8 pm we arrived at our hotel RIU Dubai. The hotel opened in 2020 and is located on the artificially created Deira Islands.
Things to know about Deira Islands
Deira Islands is a 15.3-square-kilometer man-made group of islands just off the Dubai neighborhood of the same name. In the future, hotels, luxury apartments and shopping facilities are to be built here. Among them is the Deira Mall, which is to become the largest shopping center in the Middle East and thus even larger than the Dubai Mall.
However, the island was still quite empty when we visited. Apart from our hotel RIU Dubai and the Centara Mirage Beach Resort next to it, there were only a few ruins of buildings and the Souk Al Marfa, one of the newest shopping centers of the city. It stretches for 1.9 km along the waterfront and is just a stone’s throw from some of Dubai’s oldest and most traditional souks. The indoor mall is fully air-conditioned and houses over 400 stores – you can get everything from carpets and spices to clothing and electronics. We have read that the Souk Al Marfa is still to be expanded and then over 1,000 stores to rummage and bargains should invite. A free daily shuttle service was provided from our hotel RIU Dubai to Souk Al Marfa, departing from the hotel at 4:25pm, 6:50pm and 9:20pm and then picking up hotel guests at the souk again at 7:30pm and 10:30pm and returning them to the hotel.
The RIU Hotel Dubai
The RIU Dubai hotel, which opened in 2020, is located on Deira Island directly on a wide and fine sandy beach. The 750-room hotel is one of the few in Dubai to offer 24-hour “All Inclusive”. This means all food and drinks in all bars and restaurants are included, snacks and drinks even around the clock. The Internet is also free of charge.
We chose the RIU Dubai mainly for the following reasons:
– it is located near the Dubai International Airport (11 kilometers)
– it is close to the Hamdan Bin Mohammed Cruise Terminal (here was the start of our subsequent cruise)
– it is one of the few hotels in Dubai with an all-inclusive offer
– it is located directly on the beach
– it has its own small water park
Our Junior Suite
We had a 52 m² junior suite with side sea view, balcony and two bedrooms, each with a 180×200 cm bed. The drinks in the minibar are free of charge and were refilled every two days. We felt very comfortable in the room and it was also very lovingly decorated with towel animals and flowers when we moved in.
The pool facilities
Really great are the total of 6 pools of the hotel! There are three large pools, two of which have their own pool bar right in the water. And then three more pools in the aqua park for the little ones. Although the hotel was relatively full, the hotel guests distributed themselves well and there were also always enough sunbeds and umbrellas available.
The Splash water park & the RiuLand
Especially for children, besides the beach, the water park “Splash Water World” is the highlight in the hotel. This consists of an area for small children, a climbing frame in the water with various slides and an area with large water slides – also for the adults. In general, really great. However, at our time we had “only” just under 25 degrees during the day in Dubai and the water temperature in the water park was really freezing. Our little one really froze in the water – and that in Dubai. Therefore, at our time, almost no children were playing there or used the slides. That was a real pity and we can’t quite understand it either.
Next to the water park there is also the kids club RiuLand with a small playground and activities for the little ones. Here there is a daily fun and games program with all kinds of activities.
The wide sandy beach is definitely perfect for families (and all other beach lovers). There are hardly any waves here, the sand is super fine and gently sloping. The sea was also much warmer than the water in the “Splash Water World”, so we spent most of our time on the beach. Here we built sand castles, went in search of shells and splashed in the sea. Free sunbeds and umbrellas are available in sufficient number.
We found the food in the main restaurant of the hotel, the Al-Andalus, really great. Whether it’s Asian, Italian or Lebanese, you’ll find a huge selection here for breakfast (7:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.), lunch (12:30 p.m. to 3 p.m.) and dinner (6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.). We love the choice in buffet restaurants and the quality of the food was really excellent. The highlight was the large show cooking station in the center of the restaurant where most of the food was freshly prepared and cooked/fried. Most of the time we left the restaurant round as a ball because we tried so much 😉
A short trip to Dubai Downtown
Even though we have already been in Dubai for 10 days in 2021 and in that time we have seen a lot of the city and its sights like the Miracle Garden, Dubai Creek Harbour or the Frame image frame could see, we were eager to have another short Downtown excursion to the Dubai Mall and the famous Burj Khalifa. From our hotel, we again ordered an UBER cab, which cost 66 AED (17 EUR) one way and let us out right at one of the Dubai Mall entrances.
Die Dubai Mall gehört seit ihrer Eröffnung im Jahr 2009 zu den größten Einkaufszentren der Welt. With over 1200 stores, a 5* hotel (Address Dubai Mall), 22 movie theaters, an ice skating rink, an aquarium and over 120 food and beverage establishments, it is definitely a huge shopper’s paradise. In the Dubai Mall, our first port of call is always the huge aquarium, probably the most famous attraction in the mall. The aquarium houses over 30,000 marine animals and over 140 species. The huge water basin is 51 meters long, 20 meters wide, 11 meters high, extends over three floors and holds an incredible 10 million liters of water. Over 400 sharks and rays live in this tank, including one of the largest collections of sand tiger sharks in the world. And the best thing is: This huge aquarium with all its sea creatures can be marveled at completely free of charge in the Dubai Mall! If you want to dive a little closer into the underwater world, you can buy one of the different tickets to get into the interior as well.
Another highlight in Dubai Downtown is the area around the 829.8-meter Burj Khalifa, currently the tallest building in the world. Here we watched the famous water fountains “The Dubai Fountain” in the evening from 6 pm, a captivating water, music and light spectacle on the 12 hectare man-made Burj Khalifa lake. Right next to it is the Burj Park, where we really liked the dandelion installation. In the evening, the dandelions are illuminated in different colors, which looks really great.
After our stay at the RIU Dubai hotel, we left for a 7-day cruise to the Orient. Here you can find our travel reports about the journey with Mein Schiff.