The Sultanate of Oman is a cruise stop that many will find surprisingly appealing. A pristine and picturesque city on the Arabian Sea at the base of mountains, the port Muscat, the capital, is Omani’s biggest and most modern city, nicely balancing the need to maintain tradition while also keeping pace with the 21st century.
Arriving cruise visitors will notice the three forts the Portuguese built on the rocky shoreline during their 16th century occupation. Oman’s distinguishing feature, however, are its wadis, which are lush oases of palm trees, colorful flowers and green grasses. Some wadis have year-round running water, with deep, cool pools where you can swim if currents are slow.
Museums worth the visit include, the history-heavy Oman Museum, the Sultan’s Armed Forces Museum and the Natural History Museum displaying native specimens.
Optionally, it would be easy to spend a full day browsing the fish market and shopping in the souk, where you’ll find woven palm fronds and silver. Silversmithing has a long proud tradition in Oman, with its intricately handcrafted silver products, such as jewelry and coffee pots that could be heirlooms as well as souvenirs.
If your ship is staying late in port, make a point of getting a nighttime view of the sultan’s palace, which is lit spectacularly.