Abu Dhabi is currently experiencing a successful cruise season with a significant increase in international passengers. AD Ports Group reports show that over 130,000 visitors arrived at the Abu Dhabi Cruise Terminal ports in January alone. Zayed Port welcomed around 88,000 passengers, while Sir Bani Yas Island saw over 42,000 visitors, making it the highest number of international cruise passengers the capital has seen in five years. In Dubai, officials predicted that nearly one million passengers would arrive this season.
Here are six of the best UAE cruises still available to book this year, with at-sea adventures to destinations including Oman, the Seychelles and Singapore.
The MSC Opera offers a week-long journey throughout the Middle East.
MSC, an Italian cruise line, offers various journeys departing from ports in the Middle East, such as a seven-night cruise on the upgraded MSC Opera. This itinerary consists of five ports of call, starting from Abu Dhabi and heading to Sir Bani Yas Island, where travellers can explore the local marine and wildlife. The ship then sails to Muscat, the capital of Oman, which offers traditional markets, museums, and more. The MSC Opera has room for up to 2,579 passengers, and its features include upgraded cabins with balconies, new play areas for children, and a Teatro dell’Opera, which hosts nightly live performances. The next stop is Khasab, a port city in the Omani exclave of Musandam, known as the Norway of the Middle East for its inlets and towering cliffs. Finally, the MSC Opera docks in Dubai, offering excursions to the gold souq, camel racing, and a tour of the city’s famous landmarks.
From $309 per person; next sailing March 20; www.msccruises.com
Luxury sailing from Dubai to the Seychelles with Silver Sea
Silver Sea, a luxury cruise operator known for its all-inclusive tours, is launching a trip from Dubai in November. The Silver Spirit will embark on a journey to explore the Middle East, starting in Dubai and traveling to Abu Dhabi, Doha, and Bahrain. From Manama, the cruise heads to Saudi Arabia’s Dammam, where passengers can experience local culture by visiting the King Abdulaziz Centre for World Culture, recognized by Time magazine as one of the “World’s Top 100 Places to Visit.” The itinerary also includes Muscat, with opportunities for dolphin spotting, dhow cruises, and visits to museums, mosques, and markets. After two days at sea, the cruise reaches Mumbai, where guests can explore landmarks such as the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya museum, the Gateway of India arch, and the colourful flower market. The itinerary continues towards Cochin for an overnight stay, followed by four days at sea to enjoy Silver Spirit’s eight restaurants, spa, and observation library. Finally, the cruise sails to the Seychelles archipelago, stopping at La Digue and Praslin islands before arriving at Mahe on December 13th.
Rates from $6,450 per guest, all-inclusive; next sailing November 24; www.silversea.com
Costa Cruises offers a five-night tour to explore Arabia.
Costa Cruises offers a five-day cruise aboard the Costa Toscana, with numerous amenities such as 11 restaurants, 13 swimming pools and hot tubs, and 19 bars and lounges. The journey departs from Dubai and includes stops at Doha, Muscat, and Abu Dhabi.
Passengers aboard the Costa Toscana will first head to Doha, Qatar’s capital, where a variety of on-shore activities are available, including a hop-on, hop-off bus tour, a sightseeing and shopping tour, or a visit to the Katara Cultural Village and Souq Waqif.
After a full day at sea, the ship will dock at Muscat, the capital of Oman. Here, passengers have the opportunity to explore the city with excursions such as 4×4 drives across Wadi Al Arbeieen, dolphin-spotting boat tours, and sightseeing tours that include some of the city’s highlights, such as the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque and Mutrah Souq.
On day five, the ship arrives in Abu Dhabi, where passengers can take part in a walking tour around Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, illuminated by the light and shadows of sundown, or visit Saadiyat Island.
Dubai to Singapore on an Exotic Eastern Spices cruise with Oceania
If you’re looking for a luxurious journey, Oceania Cruises offers the Exotic Eastern Spices itinerary. This 20-day trip departs from Dubai and takes travellers through the ancient lands of Indochina, passing through India and Sri Lanka.
Passengers will board the Regatta-class ship Nautica, which offers a variety of amenities such as restaurants, swimming pools, a running track, and a wellness centre. The journey starts with a visit to Fujairah, the only emirate located on the Gulf of Oman.
After two days at sea, passengers will arrive in Mumbai, where they can explore Gharapuri Island and the seventh-century rock-cut temples of the Elephanta C
Seven nights Arabia-intensive cruise with Azamara
Azamara provides a luxurious seven-day cruise that begins in Dubai, where travellers can explore the city and settle into their cabins on the first day. The itinerary then proceeds to Abu Dhabi, where passengers can enjoy high tea at Emirates Palace, visit Yas Island, and take guided tours of Louvre Abu Dhabi and the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.
The ship also stops at Sir Bani Yas Island, where travellers can go on nature drives across the protected reserve and snorkel in the surrounding waters. On the fifth day, the ship sets sail for Doha, offering culinary demonstrations from professional chefs, live entertainment at the Cabaret Lounge, and spa treatments at The Sanctum Spa.
Upon docking in Qatar’s capital, the ship stays overnight, providing opportunities for kayaking through Al Thakira Mangrove Forest, visiting the Mall of Qatar, and embarking on a desert safari. Finally, the ship sails back to Dubai, where passengers can participate in activities such as a helicopter tour of the city or a private safari tour to a Bedouin camp in the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve
Rates from $929 per person, next sailing November 13; www.azamara.com
A 22-day voyage from Dubai to Cape Town with Regent Seven Seas
Experience 22 days of ultra-luxury travel with Regent Seven Seas from Dubai to Cape Town, aboard the Seven Seas Mariner – the world’s first all-suite, all-balcony cruise liner, with unlimited shore excursions, private butler service, and stops at stunning destinations such as Abu Dhabi, Seychelles, Madagascar, Mozambique, Zululand, and Cape Town, with an optional four-day post-cruise exploration to game drives, Cape Winelands, and the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve.
Fares from $13,449, all-inclusive, next sailing April 16; www.rssc.com