Authentic Arabia 2
As Jordan’s only port, Aqaba is your gateway to the magnificent ancient city of Petra. Petra, nicknamed the Rose City due to the colour of the stone from which it’s carved,…Departs: 19:00
Walk in the footsteps of Indiana Jones and discover this amazing city that was lost to the world for over 1000 years. Jordan’s biggest national treasure, Petra is one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites with 2000 years of history and 800 monuments still standing. Some archaeologists call it the 8th Wonder of the Ancient World – and it’s not surprising. Put simply, this place is out of this world. Pick a path through steep rocky slopes and craggy mountain tops, admiring the temples, tombs, theatres and stairways that have been carved into the rock. First off, you’ll walk to the entrance of the Old City of As-Siq. As you wander down to Al-Khazneh, also known as the Treasury, you might get a sense of déjà-vu – this place landed a starring role in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Your adventure carries on past the Roman Theatre to the spectacular Royal Tombs, carved into the face of Jebel Khubtha. From here, you’ll head down the Colonnaded Street. You’ll have time to yourself to wander round and take some pictures before making your way back via the same route. Rounding off your adventure is lunch at one of the local hotels.
Ready to kick back and relax? Then come and spend some time on a private beach in Aqaba, at the Movenpick Hotel. This 5 star hotel has got a great pool complex, too, complete with two turquoise swimming pools, roomy sun terraces and an outdoor café. On top of that, the hotel’s got a great range of watersports and activities that you can pay for when you get there. As well as cafés and restaurants, you’ll find souvenir shops and a foreign exchange service at the hotel. And there’s no need to bring a towel with you – you’ll be given one when you get there.
For centuries, people have been fascinated by the Dead Sea. At 400 metres below sea level it lies at the lowest spot on the earth. The water here’s packed with salt and minerals, which means it’s completely devoid of life. But it’s all this goodness that gives it curative powers. These very salts and minerals find their way into products sold all over the world. On this tour we’ll take you to one of the spa hotels situated on the Dead Sea’s north eastern shore. Here you’ll get around four hours to sunbathe, swim and smother yourself in healing minerals from the sea's muddy floor - or just relax in the gently lapping waters. Remember, this is a place where you definitely can’t sink! After a tasty meal in the hotel restaurant you’ll make your way back to Aqaba, refreshed, relaxed and raring to go.
Our signature pan-Asian speciality restaurant makes an appearance onboard Marella Discovery. You'll find dishes created by renowned chef Ian Pengelley such as his duck and watermelon salad. The menu covers off south and east Asia, featuring dishes like Indian spiced king prawns, and Indonesian beef rendang curry. A cover charge applies for dining here, and you’ll need to make a reservation.
Marella Discovery’s main eatery is a big, stylish venue, finished in the colours of the sand and the sea. Daytime meals here come with a side-order of sea views, thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows, and a grand double staircase leads up to a separate eatery.
Festival food stalls and iconic British beach huts provided the inspiration for this grab ‘n’ go eatery. This means you can expect to pick up things like bacon butties for breakfast, and sweet chilli chicken wings, mezze salads and focaccia sandwiches in the afternoon.
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,…ARRIVE IN PORT: 18:30 (DAY 7)
DEPART FROM PORT: 17:00 (DAY 8)
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 Nakhal resort before heading back to the ship.
Dolphins are regular visitors to Oman’s shores so you’re in with a great chance of spotting them during this boat trip. As you cruise along the rocky coastline, your guide will help you to look for pods of spinner, bottlenose and common dolphins as they ride the waves. If you’re lucky, you might even see a humpback or a false killer whale as they come up for air.
This corner of Oman has been dubbed the ‘Norway of Arabia’, thanks to its fjord-like inlets and mountainous coastline. Back in the 17th century, the Portuguese…Time in port: 08:00 - 17:00
This half-day tour introduces you to Oman’s Musandam Peninsula. You’ll start off by driving to Khasab, where you’ll visit a fort built by the Portuguese in the 17th century. Unlike most around the world, this stronghold is close to sea level, so the views of the surrounding waters are second-to-none. Later, you’ll take a scenic drive through the peninsula’s rugged countryside, towards the seaside town of Bukha. This place is home to another sea-facing fort, which provided the town with protection in the Medieval ages. After a visit of the smooth-stoned castle, you’ll head back to Khasab, making a photo stop at one of the area’s grand, domed mosques.
Today, you’ll board a traditional Omani Dhow to see why this part of the world is nicknamed the ‘Norway of Arabia’. In Khasab’s port, you’ll swap cruise ship for dhow boat – simple vessels that are seen in the waters up and down the Persian Gulf. The captain will navigate through the area’s mountainous valleys, called khors, which draw comparisons to the fjords of Norway. You’ll anchor-down beside Telegraph Island, a rocky isle where, in 1864, the British laid a telegraph cable that ran from India to Iraq. Keep your eyes peeled while you’re onboard, because dolphins often swim alongside dhows.
Buckle up for a 4x4 adventure to 6,000 feet above sea level. From Khasab, you’ll drive up into the mountains of the Musandam Peninsula, making pit-stops at viewpoints along the way. The village of Sayah is on the cards, too. This picturesque hamlet tumbles down the hillside, and is still occupied by desert-dwelling Bedouin people. The settlement is famous for its ancient petrographs – 3,000-year-old paintings splattered on the rock face. Later on, you’ll drive up near the summit of Jebel Harim, which translates as the ‘mountain of women’. Up here, expect to see more millennia-old petroglyphs, and fossils that are studded into the rocks. Of course, the photo opportunities from these heights are spectacular, in particular the Khawr Najid this stunning view point overlooks the Indian Ocean
Manama perches on the tip of the island of Bahrain, just off the coast of Saudi Arabia. It’s an important business hub, where steel and glass skyscrapers dominate the…Time in port: 09:00 - 17:00
The spotlight shines on Bahrain’s most famous faces on this daytrip. One of them is the Al Fateh Grand Mosque – with a capacity to accommodate more than 7,000 worshippers, it’s one of the biggest in the world. This holy place lays claim to a second superlative, too, having the world’s largest fibreglass dome built on top of it. Later on, you’ll visit Bahrain National Museum for a glimpse of relics that date back millennia. The kingdom’s Medieval fort, built by the Portuguese, is on the cards, as well, before the main event – Bahrain International Circuit. You’ll get to ascend the VIP tower for a 360-degree view of the world-famous raceway. And, if an event is being held on the day, you’ll get to see the track in action.
Be sure to charge your cameras before this tour, because it ticks off some of the most photogenic spots in Bahrain. Al Fateh Grand Mosque is one of them – it’s one of the biggest mosques in the world, and its façades span a number of ornate Middle Eastern designs. Manama Souk is on the cards, too. The bustling bazaar has been around for centuries, and serves as a reminder of the past in a capital city that’s brimming with futuristic skyscrapers. Speaking of which, you’ll also stop for photos outside the Bahrain World Trade Centre. These massive, sail-shaped twin towers were the world’s first skyscrapers to incorporate wind turbines into their design.
As its name suggests, there are three points of focus on this tour. Black refers to oil, as Bahrain was the first country on the Arabian side of the Persian Gulf where oil was struck. You’ll visit the aptly-named First Oil Well, which leaked precious oil for the first time in 1932. Bahrain’s sky-high economy is represented on the ‘gold’ part of the tour. You’ll make a photo stop outside the state’s striking World Trade Centre, as well as the famous Bahrain International Circuit racetracks. The trip’s third section focuses on the camel – an animal that has been important to the livelihood of locals for thousands of years. There’ll be time to take pictures with the humped mammals at a local farm.
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 - 17:00
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 continue on to the Manarat Al Saadiyat arts and culture centre. This dune-shaped building tells the stories of Abu Dhabi’s past, present and future. The third stop is to the Heritage Village, a museum where you can see what life was like in the UAE before the discovery of oil. 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: 08:00 (DAY 13)
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 to visit two shopping centres. The Souk Al Bahar is an Arabian-themed mall, with boutique jewellery and fashion shops. The Dubai Mall, meanwhile, is huge and super-modern. It’s got over a thousand stores, plus an aquarium, an ice rink and a dinosaur museum. 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.