Next year, we're embarking on a voyage through the Arabian Gulf and Emirates, round trip from Dubai. Members of our Loyalty program, Azamara Circle, voted for this incredible itinerary to be a special loyalty cruise. The voyage is open to everyone, and there will be exclusive perks and experiences only for LCV members! We're already looking forward to this experience, and hope you'll join us for this once-in-a-lifetime adventure.
There are countless reasons to cruise to this fascinating part of the world, but we managed to narrow our list down to the top five.
Dubai may be a futuristic, man-made metropolis, but the Arabian Gulf is also home to rich history. Muscat, Oman was a prominent trading port in the first century. Today, visitors can explore historic prisons that now serve as museums, as well as forts, palaces and mosques. The Bahrain Fort in Al Manamah is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with excavations that date back to 3,000 BC!
Middle Eastern cuisine is delicious, and with so many overnight stays and late-night departures during this voyage, we'll have plenty of time to indulge onshore.
Qatari cuisine features traditional Arab and Levantine dishes, with Iranian and Indian influences. Machbous is a popular local dish - a combination of spices, basmati rice, pine nuts, raisins, and either mutton, chicken or fish. Try assorted mezes, fresh hummus and vine leaves stuffed with rice, as well!
Try Omani Kahwa, coffee mixed with cardamom powder and served with dates and sweets. In Bahraini cuisine, look for fresh local fish, Khubz flatbread and Qoozi - lamb stuffed with rice, onions, spices and boiled eggs.
Foodie fanatics will really enjoy "Cooking Bahraini Cuisine" Azamara Shore Excursions tour, which includes an excursion to the markets, followed by culinary instruction at a local restaurant.
Three major museums are due to open in Abu Dhabi in the coming years, as part of Saadiyat Island's cultural district. The Louvre Abu Dhabi, Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, and the Sheikh Zayed National Museum will all live on the island, showcasing the city's commitment to celebrating art and culture. In Muscat, art and culture lovers won't want to miss the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque. It's the third largest mosque in the world, and features a hand-woven prayer rug with over 1.7 billion knots, as well as a chandelier with over 600,000 Swarovski crystals.
Not only is Doha, Qatar home to some of the best Qatari cuisine in the country, but the city is also a cultural hub. The Museum of Islamic Art showcases art from three continents, spanning 1,400 years. Visitors will see paintings, ceramics, jewelry, textiles, glassworks and more. In Muscat, Oman, our "Mystical Muscat" Azamara Shore Excursions tour will take guests to the private museum of His Excellency Mohammed Al Zubair, to view historic books, photos, weaponry, artwork, clothing and jewelry. The museum offers a fascinating look at the vibrant Omani culture.
Step foot inside one of the many souks of these great cities, and you won't be able to resist picking up a few souvenirs. Plan to spend some time exploring the Corniche in Muscat, Oman, and browsing the colorful Mutrah Souq. Pick up some pearl jewelry and woodcarvings for friends and family back home - and for yourself! In the larger cities of Abu Dhabi and Dubai, you'll be able to browse both souqs and shopping malls. In fact, Dubai is home to the largest shopping mall on earth!
One of our favorite things about this itinerary is the diversity it offers. We'll see soaring skyscrapers in Abu Dhabi and experience the pinnacle of extravagance in Dubai. Khasab, Oman is known as "The Norway of Arabia" thanks to striking fjords and massive cliffs. The best way to explore is via a traditional dhow boat ride - you might even spot a dolphin! Bahrain is perfect for lounging on the beach, or journeying to the Tree of Life in the midst of a stunning desert.
The Arabian Gulf and Emirates is a unique and multi-faceted region. Our enriching Azamara Shore Excursions tours will help expose guests to all sides of this AzAmazing place. We can't wait to explore! Our 10 Night voyage onboard the Azamara Journey embarks on October 24, 2016. Our only question is, will you join us for the adventure of a lifetime?