Avid Cruiser Voyages: Dubai and the United Arab Emirates

Our next installment of Avid Cruiser Voyages focuses on a destination that is unique in its own right, yet frequently lumped into a much broader geographical term that can describe cruises to nearly a dozen different countries.

Typically marketed as a Middle East cruise, voyages departing roundtrip from Dubai, United Arab Emirates are the focus of this installment, and there’s good reason why this fascinating section of the world should be on anyone’s “must-cruise” list.

Silver spirit dubai 2
Three times the height of the 300-meter (984-foot) Eiffel Tower, Dubai’s Burj Khalifa soars to a stratospheric 828 meters (2,717 feet), situated at Dubai Downtown (Dubai Mall). © 2011 Ralph Grizzle

In an age where “Middle East” can claim a number of negative connotations, Dubai is a veritable pearl in the desert. Located along the Arabian Peninsula in the Persian Gulf, Dubai has seen unprecedented growth to the point where elaborate skyscrapers and streets filled with shopping centers have become the city’s trademarks. Witness the Burj Khafika (you can’t miss it) as you begin your descent to Dubai International Airport.  Soaring more than 2,700 feet in height, the “Burj” is an unmistakable landmark that you can’t miss seeing.

Dubai is also noteworthy for having an indoor downhill ski course in the desert, and the Dubai Fountain, a 30-acre man-made lake in the center of Downtown Dubai. It spans 902 feet and can shoot water some 240 feet in the air that is then lit by 6,600 lights and 25 colored projectors.

Coming ashore in Muscat, Oman.
Ashore in Muscat, Oman. © 2011 Ralph Grizzle

There are plenty of voyages operating roundtrip from this vibrant city during the so-called “winter” months, when temperatures are far cooler than during the summer months. As a result, tourism here functions largely as if it were located in the Southern Hemisphere, with December to March being some of the most popular months for these roundtrip voyages.

On weeklong roundtrip “Middle Eastern” sailings from Dubai, the Emirate of Fujairah is the only one in the entire United Arab Emirates to feature a shoreline that exists solely on the Gulf of Oman. It is also home to the oldest Mosque in the entire country; a structure built in 1446 purely from mud and bricks.

The Sultan's Palace in Muscat
The Sultan’s Palace in Muscat. © 2011 Ralph Grizzle

Many itineraries offer an overnight call on nearby Muscat, Oman. If you’ve ever wanted to see the desert — the storybook, fantasy-sort of desert — Muscat is the place to do it. With its ancient city walls and gates, not to mention the nearby beaches and searing heat during the day, it’s also a history buff and sun-worshipper’s paradise.  At night, gaze upon the Sultan’s Palace or the Royal Opera House Muscat for some gloriously lit architecture.

Most of these Emirati sailings also pay a visit to legendary Abu Dhabi. The capital of the United Arab Emirates, this city lies on a “T”-shaped island jutting out into the crystal waters of the Persian Gulf. Here, witness the sixth largest Mosque in the world, and the largest one in the United Arab Emirates.

Another major attraction that you can’t help but notice is the Corniche, Abu Dhabi’s spectacular waterfront promenade. Stretching for miles, this truly comes alive in the late afternoon through to the evening, when the locals come out for a stroll along this pristine walk. If you can, see it at night: The vistas of Abu Dhabi under artificial light are breathtaking and memorable.

Experience a different world on these unique voyages.
Experience a different world on these unique voyages. © 2011 Ralph Grizzle

So how hard is it to get to Dubai from North America? It’s actually easier than you think: Emirates, one of the best airlines you could ever ask to fly, operates non-stop service between Dubai and many hubs in North America. Who wouldn’t relish the opportunity to fly to Dubai on the five-star Emirates? Even getting to Dubai makes this one Avid Cruiser Voyage that you won’t want to miss.

Read about Ralph Grizzle’s troubled flight on Emirates. It’s a story with a happy ending.

Also check out Departing Dubai: Silver Spirit Sets Sail For Athens & Beyond

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