Sail away to another world on a 7 night cruise of Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Qatar onboard MSC Opera, a refined and elegant ship, built to take you on the journey of a lifetime.
Your middle eastern cruise holiday begins with you flying into the city of Dubai, where you will board MSC Opera. Once onboard you’ll have two days to go out and explore the exciting city of Dubai. From the city’s traditional roots steeped in Arabic heritage to the bustling souks to the spectacular skyscrapers that line the cityscape and chic, glittering malls and shops.
Back onboard MSC Opera, you’ll sail to Abu Dhabi, a truly extravagant city. Leading attractions include the extravagant Emirates Palace hotel and the even more spectacular Sheikh Zayed Mosque, while the various attractions of Yas Island, home to the vast Ferrari World theme park, lie just down the road. You’ll also spend a day at the MSC Beach Experience on Yas Island, where you can relax on the golden sand, take part in water sports and enjoy the fabulous food and exciting cocktails on offer.
Then it’s on to Muscat, Oman where you’ll step back in time in one of the oldest cities of the Middle East. Pay a visit to some of the top sites, like the fish market, the Portuguese fort and, above all Muttrah’s Souq, a beautiful old bazar of the East located right on the seafront. Muscat is your last stop before sailing back to Dubai, where there will be one more day to experience this fantastic city before its time to disembark your cruise.
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Sir Bani Yas
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Day 1&2 Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Board MSC Opera and then the opportunity to head off and discover Bur Dubai, at the heart of the metropolis of Dubai, on the south side of the breezy Creek. It’s the oldest part of Dubai and it offers a fascinating insight into the city’s traditional roots, where you’ll find many of the place’s most interesting Arabian heritage houses, clustered in the beautiful old Iranian quarter of Bastakiya and the waterfront Shindagha district, as well as the excellent Dubai Museum and the atmospheric Textile Souk. Explore the massive Downtown Dubai development at the southern end of the strip, centred on the stupendous new Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, flanked by further record-breaking attractions including the gargantuan Dubai Mall and spectacular Dubai Fountain.
On your second day in Dubai consider taking an excursion to the bustling district of Deira: the centre of Dubai’s traditional commercial activity, much of it still conducted in the area’s vibrant array of old-fashioned souks, including the famous gold and spice markets. A few kilometres south of the old city centre, modern Dubai begins in spectacular style with Sheikh Zayed Road, home to a neck-cricking array of skyscrapers including the glittering Emirates Towers.
Day 3 Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
The United Arab Emirates’ capital, Abu Dhabi, offers an intriguing contrast to its freewheeling neighbour Dubai. Leading attractions include the extravagant Emirates Palace hotel and the even more spectacular Sheikh Zayed Mosque, while the various attractions of Yas Island, home to the vast Ferrari World theme park, lie just down the road.
The blockbuster attraction at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island is a dream excursion for any F1 fans. The “world’s biggest indoor theme park”, it offers a wide range of Ferrari-themed rides and displays which will appeal both to kids and grown-ups, including the chance to drive an F1 simulator or to ride the Formula Rossa roller coaster (the world’s fastest) or to experience race-day acceleration in the G Force “tower of speed” – as well as numerous gentler family-oriented rides.
Some 15km from central Abu Dhabi, the mighty Sheikh Zayed Mosque dominates all landward approaches to the city, its snowy-white mass of domes and minarets visible for miles around and providing a spectacular symbol of Islamic pride at the entrance to the capital of the United Arab Emirates.
Completed in 2007, the mosque was commissioned by and named after Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al Nahyan, who lies buried in a modest white marble mausoleum close to the entrance. The mosque is one of the world’s biggest and certainly the most expensive, having taken twelve years to build at a cost of around US$500 million. It’s also unusual in being one of only two mosques in the UAE open to non-Muslims.
Day 4 Sir Bani Yas
The MSC Beach Experience on Sir Bani Yas means relax. It includes a delicious barbecue lunch of succulent burgers and other grilled delights, fresh salads and vegetables, pastries and fruit. And you can enjoy cocktails, ice-cold beers and soft drinks from the island’s six bars.
Entertainment options range from beach tennis and volleyball to paddle boarding and snorkelling, not forgetting gym and dance activities and fun beach parties. Meanwhile, the inflatable water park and kids’ play area will keep children happy all day.
Without leaving the beach, you can pamper yourself with a revitalising massage or beauty treatment provided by our expert MSC Aurea Spa personnel. And if you’ve booked an island tour–or decide to join one at the last minute–you’ll find our Excursion Office right there on the beach too.
On Sir Bani Yas, just like on the islands of Dalma and the six nearby Discovery Islands, an enormous nature reserve has been designated to species in danger of extinction, be they from the Arabic peninsula or from Africa.
You can explore a one-of-a-kind island destination. Go horse riding or jeep riding; take your time at wildlife watching hides, then settle down on a traditional dhow for a mini cruise.
On Sir Bani Yas, everyone can enjoy the beach experience of their dreams or experience a safari like no other between the mangroves, the desert and the protected bay areas.
Day 5Arrive at At Sea
Day 6 Muscat, Oman
Stepping ashore in Oman’s capital Muscat, means stepping into one of the oldest cities of the Middle East. This is where incense was shipped to Greece and Rome as far back as the 2nd century. Today it is still possible to find traces of its glorious past in the old centre where, until the latter part of the past century, the gates that separated the various quarters would be closed three hours after dawn. Muttrah, the historic centre of trade and activity of the capital that you will see during the cruise, is one of the most intriguing and well preserved parts of the town centre.
Its commercial vocation is due to its proximity to the large port, where your MSC ship, which is named after its sovereign Qabus, will be waiting for you. Dedicate part of your vacation to Muscat to visit the sites, like the fish market, the Portuguese fort and, above all Muttrah’s Souq, one of cruisers’ favourite destinations.
You can continue along the sea road to the old town of Muscat where, about 200 years ago, the predecessor of the current head of state, built the Al Alam (the Flag), the palace which was restored in the Seventies and has become the Sultan’s official residence. It is a beautiful example of contemporary Arab architecture situated at the centre of the part of Muscat which is still surrounded by its 17th century walls.
Nearby, in the quarter of Bawshar, you find the Great Mosque of Sultan Qabus. About 6500 devotees gather to pray in the main prayer hall which has a single, huge carpet of about 4200 sq.m., made of one billion and 700 million knots and weighs 21 tons. All the halls, which may be visited also by non-Muslims, are decorated with motifs that celebrate Arab culture.
Day 7&8 Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Return to Dubai where you will have another full day to explore the city before one last night on MSC Opera.