Cities of Gold 2
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: 11:00 - 19:00
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 visit the welcome centre and the main grand stand.
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.
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 - 17:00
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.
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: 10:00 - 18:00
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
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: 07:00 - 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 it’s time for a little refreshment over at the W hotel on Yas Island, before continuing on to Abu Dhabi Corniche, to snap a couple of photos. The sightseeing doesn’t end here, as 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.