Arabian Nights 2
Before the 19th-century, foreign maps of Arabia didn’t include Qatar. That was then. Now, the once-forgotten country has made an almighty comeback – and its glittering…Time in port: 07:00 - 18:00
Today, you’ll exchange skyscrapers for a taste of traditional Qatari culture. Your first stop is in Katara, or the Valley of Cultures. The buildings are newly-built as part of a multi-million pound project to replicate traditional dwellings. You’ll find an amphitheatre at its hub, as well as an opera house, libraries and art galleries. Next, it’s off to the Pearl-Qatar – a manmade island built on a former pearl diving site. It’s as glamorous as it sounds, and you’ll drive past Venetian-style canals, plazas and a marina full of restaurants. Your final stop is at Souq Waqif. Here, you can wander the ancient alleyways with their mud-rendered shops selling spices, perfumes and incense.
Hold on to your sunglasses – you’re in for a bumpy ride. Today, you’ll be heading out into the desert to tackle the sand dunes. You’ll hop in a 4x4 for a rollercoaster-like ride, up and down the steep slopes. After some dune bashing, you’ll stop at Khor Al Udeid – dubbed the inland sea. It’s the natural border between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, and you can see all the way across. Qatar is also one of only two countries where sand dunes meet the ocean – the other being in Namibia. You’ll have time to snap away on the beach, which is framed by huge dunes. If luck is on your side, you might even spot a rare dugong in the see-through waters – they’re similar to manatees. Once you’ve finished marvelling at the other-worldly view, there’s a quick stop at a traditional campsite, before you head back out over the dunes.
Kora La serves Asian dishes, with interiors that echo the exotic menu. Just so you know, a cover charge applies.
When it comes to extravagant dining, this place is a real gem. Pick the likes of lobster thermidor and lamb rack from the à la carte menu, and enjoy attentive waiter service in contemporary surroundings. Just so you know, a cover charge applies and you’ll need to make a reservation.
There’s a laid-back and friendly feel to this self-service buffet restaurant, which has an indoor and an outdoor dining area. It offers a huge choice of hot and cold meals, from full-cooked breakfasts first thing in the morning to lunchtime carveries and curries for late-night munchies.
The ancient walled city of Muscat is wedged into a mountain-cocooned bay, just 20 minutes’ drive from Port Sultan Qaboos. It’s only 250 miles from king of the Emirates,…Time in port: 07:00 - 18:00
You’ll tour some of Oman’s highlights on this trip, including an enormous mosque, a bustling souk, and Muscat old town. The first stop is the Grand Mosque. Outside, it’s completely white, but on the inside, it’s filled with intricate murals and big crystal chandeliers. A single Persian carpet covers the 4,000-square-metre floor, making it one of the largest ever made. Next, you’ll have an hour’s haggling time at the Muttrah Souk. This indoor marketplace is the oldest in Muscat and its stalls are packed with colourful jewellery, pottery and spices. After you’ve picked up some souvenirs, you’ll head off to the Bait Al Zubair Museum for an insight into Omani heritage, before a tour of Muscat old town. Two enormous forts and the Al Alam Palace dominate the skyline here. The latter is the official residence of His Majesty, Sultan Qaboos.
From a mosque to a market, you’ll see some of Muscat’s best bits on this full-day tour. Your first stop will be one of the world’s largest mosques, called the Grand Mosque. Inside, it’s really elaborate – one single handmade Persian carpet covers the entire floor space of the huge prayer room, while massive crystal chandeliers hang from the ceiling. From the tranquillity of the mosque, you’ll be taken to the Barkha Fish Market, where locals haggle for the catch of the day. Next, you’ll stop off at the Al Thowarah hot springs and the Nakhl Fort, an enormous castle that sits on a rocky outcrop surrounded by palm trees. Then a buffet lunch is served at the Al Nahda resort before heading back to the ship.
This morning tour ticks off a busy market, a beautiful mosque, a museum and a palace. The tour starts with a quick stop for a photo at the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, a huge sandstone building topped with a 50-foot dome. In fact, it’s one of the largest mosques ever constructed. Next, it’s onto the rainbow-coloured Muttrah Souk, which is packed with stalls selling fabrics, ornaments and glittering jewellery. There’ll be time to do a little shopping before you head to the Bait Zubair Museum for an insight into Omani heritage. Last up for the morning is a chance to snap a couple of photos of the gold and blue Al Alam Palace, the ceremonial home of Sultan Qaboos of Oman. Then it’s time to head back to the ship – right in time for lunch.
Get past the port and the town of Khor Fakkan has a lot to offer, from sandy beaches to coral reefs and manicured gardens. It sits at the foot of a massive mountain range,…Time in port: 07:00 - 14:00
Today’s tour is like a porthole to the past. The first stop’s at Fujairah Heritage Village. This living museum gives you a glimpse into 16th-century Fujairah, thanks to reconstructed houses and locals dressed in traditional clothing. Next, you’ll cross the border to neighbouring emirate Sharjah for a look at Kalba Fort. There’s also time to stop at Bait Sheikh Saeed Bin Hamad Al Qasimi. With carved wooden doors and decorative walls, it’s considered one of the country’s prettiest museums. The next sight’s a natural one, as you swing by the protected mangrove swamps of Khor Kalba. After, another manmade marvel’s on the agenda. You can admire the 100-metre-tall minarets and snow-white domes of Fujairah’s Sheikh Zayed Mosque – it’s the second-biggest in the UAE, behind its namesake in Abu Dhabi. Your final history lesson takes place at Fujairah Museum, which is packed with artefacts dating back to the early Bronze Age.
Oil was discovered here back in the Fifties. Since then, Abu Dhabi’s been transformed from a fishing village into a modern metropolis. It’s not quite as well-known as…Time in port: 08:00 - 19:00
You’ll get an insight into Abu Dhabi’s history and culture during this half-day tour. It starts with a visit to the stunning Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. Big enough for 40,000 worshippers, it’s the largest in the UAE. Four 350-foot minarets and 82 white marble domes tower above it. For the tour, ladies must wear loose clothes that cover their head and body – you can leave your hands and face exposed. Afterwards you'll head to Al Bateen District where you will find the Heritage Village and Marina Mall. Plus, you'll find the tallest flagpole in UAE here. On the way back to the port, there’ll be a photo stop at the Emirates Palace, a five-star hotel and one of the most extravagant buildings in the world.
This trip ticks off some of Abu Dhabi’s grandest and most historic landmarks, with a couple of new bits thrown in, too. Things get started for a photo stop at the snowy-white Sheikh Zayed Mosque. To give you a taste of its size, it was built using 100,000 tonnes of marble, and has space for up to 40,000 people. Next, you’ll drive through some of the city’s most exclusive neighbourhoods on your way to the Emirates Palace. You won’t be checking in at this luxury beachfront hotel, but the red-hued walls and neatly-clipped gardens make it well worth a photo stop. Once you’ve grabbed a few snaps, it’s back on the bus for a scenic drive along the Corniche – a waterside road which curves around the skyscraper-backed bay. You’ll get the chance to grab a few more holiday shots of Al Marina, an islet connected to the city by a narrow causeway, then it’s back to Port Zayed to board the ship.
Abu Dhabi’s Ferrari World is the largest indoor theme park on the planet. It’s packed with more than 20 rides and attractions that tell the story of Ferrari, all underneath a roof shaped like the classic double-curve body shell of one of their cars. The star of the show is the Formula Rossa rollercoaster. Reaching speeds of 150 miles per hour, it’s the world’s fastest. It’s designed to provide the same g-force that a Formula One driver would get as they whizz around a track and even bursts through the roof into the desert sun at one point. For the more fainthearted, there are attractions like the 4D Speed of Magic, where you can go on a car chase through the desert from the comfort of a sofa.
Dubai is the city that needs little introduction. It’s tossed out the rule book – case in point, the ear-popping 828-metre-tall Burj Khalifa. Throw in the extravagant…ARRIVE IN PORT: 05:00 (DAY 7)
With a reputation as the world’s most luxurious hotel, the Burj Al Arab sits on its own manmade island just off the shore. You’ll have a quick photo stop in front of this 200-metre-tall structure, before a drive-by tour of the Dubai Marina and the Palm Island. Millions of tons of sand were used to form this tree-shaped archipelago, which has luxury villas, restaurants and entertainment venues dotted all the way along its thick trunk and 16 mile-long fronds. You’ll then continue on to Downtown Dubai where you'll find the Dubai Mall. It's huge and super-modern with over a thousand stores, plus an aquarium and an ice rink, but you're not here to shop, you're walking straight to the highlight - you’ll round off the day on the 124th floor of the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa. From its open-air observation deck, you’ll have some free time to soak up the panoramic views of the city you’ve just spent the morning exploring.
Dubai is a unique blend of eastern and western culture, and you’ll see the best of it on this tour. It starts at the Dubai Museum, which is housed in the 18th-century Al Fahidi Fort – the city’s oldest remaining building. Here, you can see inside a traditional barasti hut and get to know the pearl divers that went to extraordinary lengths to collect their haul. You’ll then go to the spice souk and the gold souk, where you can buy jewellery at great prices. Next is a drive to the Burj Al Arab Hotel for a photo stop, this hotel sits on its own manmade island. On the way back to the port, you’ll pause to take a look at the Jumeirah Mosque. Built entirely from intricately-carved white stone, it features two towering minarets that frame a large central dome.
This trip is like a who’s who of Dubai, ticking off the sky-high city’s most iconic attractions in less than a day. You’ll start by driving past the sail-like Burj Al Arab hotel, before making a beeline for Palm Island Drive, where you can see a pair of manmade islets shaped to look like giant palm trees. Your coach will park up at Dubai Marina next, where you’ll swap dry land for a traditional dhow sailing boat. While the skipper steers you along the yacht-lined waterway, tilt your head back and you’ll see skyscrapers in every direction. The boat trip lasts for around an hour, and it’s back on the bus once you return to the harbourside. From here, you’ll head to the powder-white Jumeirah Beach area, then to the Emirates Hills – Dubai’s most exclusive neighbourhood. Before things wrap up you’ll pass the famous Mall of the Emirates, and catch a glimpse of the jewel in Dubai’s crown, the Burj Khalifa.