When people think cruising, the Middle East does not at first come to mind.
The fact of the matter is though, that the Middle East, which is generally defined as those Arabic countries bordering the Arabian and Red Seas and the South-eastern Mediterranean Sea, are enjoying a resurgence as a cruise destination, especially for the more adventurous been there, done that sort of traveller.
Most Middle Eastern itineraries are two-week or longer affairs and thus they appeal to the older, more experienced travellers. There are plenty of sea days since several Middle Eastern ports are off limits.
A land of distinct deep history merged with a culture of wealth and prosperity
There are also several cruise lines that now operate out of ports such as Dubai or Abu Dhabi. 7 night itineraries, often with an overnight are perfect to add on a further 3 or 4 days to explore or relax.
A Middle Eastern cruise itinerary will not appeal to everyone, but it will offer lots for fans of history. Highlights include visiting some of the world’s most ancient sites, including Egypt’s pyramids and Jordan’s lost city of Petra, as well as such modern sites as Dubai’s over-the-top luxury hotels and beautiful beaches.
Middle Eastern itineraries will also often include a stop at the bustling port city of Aqaba, with its many outdoor cafes and quaint eateries.
Adventures that can be had on a Middle Eastern itinerary include shopping in the old souks (markets), especially those selling gold and rare spices in Dubai and the colourful pashmina scarves in Muscat. One can also visit a local fish market in Aden and even arrange for a desert safari, if time permits.
Ultimately, though, what is especially fascinating about a Middle East cruise is the chance to be immersed in the Muslim culture and lifestyle, which is so important in world affairs today and is a subject about which most of us have little understanding or awareness.
The best way to visit these far off lands would clearly be by cruise ship since it offers the opportunity to experience the local cultures of various ports while at the same time being pampered with the modern conveniences and indulgences available on a luxury cruise vessel.