6 DELIGHTFUL CABINS ON BOARD AMBER.

We named our dahabiyya Amber to evoke the scent of a strange and precious substance. formed in the stomachs of whales. Amber (ambergris) the perfume, is often confused with the gemstone of the same name, which is in fact a vegetal fossil.  These two very different substances share only the unusual ability to float in sea water. This buoyancy, coupled with the intoxicating sweetness of amber perfume, inspired us to choose the name for our ship.

Finding amber is no easy feat.  Football-sized lumps are expelled by the whales and washed up on beaches in locations worldwide.  The crude ambergris is refined to become a prized perfume. People have traded in amber for thousands of years, for use as perfume or incense, but it is also eaten since some believe it to be both an aphrodisiac and a means of curing infertility.  In Morocco they serve amber scented tea; in the souks of Cairo not only the perfume but amber-scented-cigarettes are still sold.

Amber is the source of many rich and fragrant traditions whose memory we revive aboard our dahabiyya. There, you may choose from six cabins, each named for a special scent, each associated with our region.

Amber Cabins

Orange Blossom (citrus sinensis)

Egypt is one of the world’s top ten orange producers, and when its orchards are in bloom a soothing, uplifting scent fills the air. Some associate orange trees with the sun, because of the shape and color of the fruit, but its delicate white blossom is also said to bring good fortune, and for this reason often used in bridal bouquets.   The water distilled from orange blossoms is a refreshing eau de toilette that relieves stress and calms the senses.  Orange blossom water is an ingredient in oriental cooking, especially for pastry delicacies. Likewise, the honey derived from this flower is prized for its fragrance and exquisite taste.


Lemon (citrus x limon)

Perfume and cosmetic manufacturers have long valued lemon’s tingly scent and astringent properties, but it is here in the Middle-East that its qualities were first documented.  A 12th century treatise by the physician of the great Saladin, sang the praises of lemons, and lemon trees have been used for centuries as ornamental plants in Islamic gardens. Although lemonade is considered an all-American summertime drink, in 11th century Egypt, bottles of the sugared beverage were made for both local and export markets. The lemon’s therapeutic values were also recognized, though not as clearly as today.  We now know that lemon juice is rich in vitamin C, a powerful anti-toxicant, an intestinal purifier and cardiac tonic. Be sure to enjoy Egyptian lemonade during your cruise!
 
Mint

This versatile herb has been an integral part of our lives since antiquity.  Its essential oil serves as a stimulant, a powerful local anesthetic and disinfectant, not to mention as one of the world’s most popular and refreshing flavors. The herb figures in the early  history of perfume as an ingredient in the pharaonic favorite kyphi, while today it adds a bright top note to many fragrances.  Mint’s medicinal properties are almost too numerous to mention. It’s provides relief for countless ailments including rheumatism, neuralgia, throat affections, toothache and indigestion. Fragrant, beneficial, fresh and lovely, mint grows year-round in Egypt and millions of Middle-Easterners like to crush the green leaves in their sugary brown tea.  Try some on your cruise!

Marjoram (Origanum Marjonara)

Marjoram grows abundantly in Egypt, its crushed leaves emitting a woody, balsamic scent admired by the pharaohs who used it for their perfumes. Sprigs of marjoram have been found in mummy garlands dating to the first century AD.  These days, marjoram is more likely encountered in the kitchen, and figures prominently in Mediterranean cuisine.  But this delicious herb (applied as an essential oil or taken as an infusion) has numerous therapeutic applications well-known to the ancient Greeks and Romans. Marjoram eases muscular pains, digestive disturbances, rheumatism, headache, insomnia and painful cough. Perhaps marjoram’s many benefits account for a tradition linking it to happiness – in this world and the next.  The Greeks customarily crowned newlyweds with marjoram and believed that if marjoram grew on a grave, it meant the occupant had found heaven.

Iris

The iris comes in many varieties and colors, which explains why the origin of its name means ‘rainbow’.  The elegant and stately flower grows wild in Egypt, where the ancients used it as a symbol of power and majesty. It was represented on the brow of the Sphinx and the scepters of kings, its three petals signifying faith, wisdom and valor.  The iris’s fragrant root was used in a perfume that was dyed red and said to reach its prime after twenty years. The flower figured in medieval heraldry, the fleur de lys, pictured in the crest of Florence, Italy.  Today iris root is used in aromatherapy as a sedative, but also as a violet-scented flavorant. Because of its beauty as an ornamental plant, the iris is cultivated in parts of Europe, Morocco and India.

Lily

There are a hundred species of lily, a plant cultivated for several millennia.  The Chinese were the first to describe the lily that for them signified eternal love. Ancient Egyptians used lilies in perfume, and the flower is depicted in frescos dating to 500BC.  In the early days of Christianity the white lily was dedicated to the Madonna because of its significance as a symbol of purity. The lily bulb (root) possesses a range of healing powers, and is an ingredient in traditional remedies to this day.  Used mostly externally, it heals burns, wounds, warts, boils and a variety of skin irritations while helping to prevent scarring. The lily is not only beautiful but remarkably beneficial, yet -another example of nature’s unique and wonderful gifts.