In December 2019 I began a cruise in the Arabian Gulf. The ship visited two cities of the United Arab Emirates and followed that up with a day in Muscat, the capital of Oman. Although we think of this area as centered on the petroleum industry,  Arabian traders were historically brokers of the spice industry and brought products of their commerce - spices, minerals, textiles - into and through the Gulf. It seemed obligatory that the shore excursions would stop in at at least one spice market, one gold market, and one textile market, as well as the live fish market.

Sabang is an island city on the north coast of Sumatra. It's a lovely place to wander through and a friendly photo stop. Sabang and Kuala Lumpur each has contributed several photos to the gallery.

The cruise is an experiment. It's another approach to travel that I've been considering as an alternative to the rigors of a tour or of independent travel. The advantages: there is plenty of time to rest and breathe the sea air while the ship chugs along, the stateroom is very comfortable, the bed is clean, the hot shower is so refreshing, the food is good and safe to eat, you can engage in the many activities or not - in other words, I was not worn out two days in.

On the downside, I'm not comfortable with fermentation consciousness - either my own or in those I have to engage with - and drinking as the companion of meals and entertainment seems to be a trait of cruise passengers. The approach to shore excursions is likewise not particularly appealing. They seem to be designed for people who want merely a taste and not a morsel more. You can get used to that (and I did) but it is limiting - formal shore excursions are, however, dispensable, and my most entertaining days were when I went off on my own.

Another experiment on this trip was the camera I used. The ten pounds of full-frame Canon and three big lenses plus carrying cases would be fine if I were younger or had a porter. I tried a new, high pixel count, crop-frame Canon with one light zoom lens - two pounds, maybe two and a half, good looking, small, easy to carry and use. The photos it takes, however, are not close enough in quality to the full-frame photos to justify the trade off.