Lose yourself in the immersive decorative art of the Qaboos Grand Mosque and the Qsar Al Watan Palace, in the view from the Sky deck of Dubai's tallest skyscraper, or in the eyes of a falcon. Cruise the desert fjords of Oman in a dhow, explore labyrinthine street bazaars, centuries-old castles, and a wildlife preserve on a desert island. Tour the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque and Royal Opera House in Muscat. Spectacular wealth has transformed the Arabian Peninsula, creating new worlds to explore, and your small ship is made to go to out of the way places.
Sail the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman to fascinating destinations in the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Oman on this unforgettable 12-day trip, with an 8-day cruise, two hotel nights in Dubai, UAE, and one night in Muscat, Oman. Tour the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque and Royal Opera House in Muscat … In Sur, visit a boat factory where traditional dhows are still built by hand… Enjoy a private dhow cruise on the desert fjords of Musandam … Discover Qatar's capital, Doha, with visits to a cultural village, the Qatar National Museum and a choice of more sightseeing… visit a Falcon Hospital in Abu Dhabi, the Presidential Palace, and the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque… Enjoy an Arabian wildlife safari on the Sir Bani Yas Island nature preserve… and on a 2-night stay in Dubai, get to know the UAE's largest city, famed for its iconic architecture, with a walking tour of Bastakia Quarter and a Q&A and private lunch at the Sheik Mohammed Cultural Center; an architectural lecture; a visit to the top of the Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building; a Desert Heritage Safari, and more.
Experience Dubai's rich cultural traditions on a private Heritage Desert Safari aboard vintage 1950s Land Rovers, and dine at a Bedouin camp in the desert
Sail the fjords of Khasab on a private dhow cruise in the "Norway of Arabia"
Visit a wildlife preserve on Sir Bani Yas Island, created as a refuge for endangered species, now home to thousands of animals, including giraffes, Arabian antelope, cheetahs, jackals, and more
Visit the world's largest falcon veterinary hospital where you will learn about the magnificent birds and their importance to Arab culture and have an opportunity to observe their care
All gratuities to Tauck Directors, ship staff and local guides
Tauck's private shore excursions and distinctive inclusions valued at $3,183
8-night cruise, 1 night hotel stay in Muscat, Oman; 2 nights in Dubai, UAE
Explore Qsar Al Watan, the new presidential palace in Abu Dhabi, stunning in scale and artistry, lavish with domes, Mughal arches, and steeped in decorative art, a cultural landmark
Arrive Dubai, UAE
Tour Begins: Dubai. Transfers are included from Dubai International Airport to the Palace Downtown, a luxury hotel overlooking the Dubai Fountain and Burj Khalifa Lake, just a 5-minute walk from the Souk Al-Bahar shopping and entertainment area. Join us this evening for a welcome reception and dinner.
Dubai's Iconic Sites & Special Evening
Dubai is an architect's dreamworld. A tour of must-see sights this morning includes the Sky Observation Deck at the Burj Khalifa, Dubai's signature skyscraper, 2,717 feet high; an express elevator rockets you to the deck for breathtaking 360-degree views of the city. Then cruise the Sheik Zayed Road, 8 lanes wide on each side, through a canyon of eye-opening commercial towers. Photostops include three of the city's flamboyant landmarks: Ain Duba, the world's tallest observation wheel, Burj Al Arab, a hotel that resembles a ship with a billowing sail, and Palm Jumeirah, an archipelago of islands shaped like the fronds of a palm tree; like the Burj Khalifa, that takes its shape from a desert flower, much of the ultra-modern architecture here is inspired by the ancient local culture. Enjoy free time to explore downtown your own, then join us for a desert safari in vintage Land Rovers; at a Bedouin camp you'll ride a camel, learn how to make Arabian coffee and bread, and enjoy dinner with traditional music and performances.
Al Fahidi Fort / Embark Ship
Take a walk back in time today with a visit to the Al Fahidi Fort, home of the Dubai Museum; built in 1787, the fortress is Dubai's oldest building, housing archaeological artifacts, old weapons, boats, and galleries that tell the story of the city's rise from a pearl-diving and fishing village to a global financial center. Lunch at Al Dawaar, a revolving restaurant on the rooftop of the Hyatt, with panoramic views of the city and the sea. Then visit the traditional bazaars in Deira, including the aromatic spice market and the dazzling Gold Souk, with over 350 dealers of gold, silver, platinum, diamonds, and designer jewelry. Embark your Ponant ship, settle in, and join us for dinner onboard this evening.
Dubai – Al Fahidi Walking Tour
Visit the Al Fahidi historic district for a walking tour of its centuries-old houses, streets, and winding alleys, preserved as a tribute to Dubai's old way of life; at the heart of the neighborhood, a visit to the Sheik Mohammed Bin Rashid Cultural Center offers more insights into Emerati traditions, religion, art, – and also lunch. Return to your ship, where a local expert will lecture on Dubai's dramatic architecture and urban development. Dine onboard tonight as you sail the Persian Gulf to Abu Dhabi, capital of the UAE.
Falcons in Abu Dhabi
This morning, visit the world's largest veterinary hospital for falcons. Love for the magnificent birds runs deep in Arab culture, since the days when trained falcons were essential for hunting and survival; more than sporting birds, they are symbols of pride and cultural identity. Learn about them up close, and maybe take a turn at feeding them. Next stop is Qasr Al Watan, the new presidential palace, stunning in scale and artistry, a white complex in classic Mughal style so light and airy it seems to float on a sea of polished marble; the palace is not only the headquarters of the President of the UAE and the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi but a cultural landmark. Inside, immerse yourself in the sumptuous Great Hall, the Presidential Banquet Hall, and the Library, showcasing artifacts, maps, books, and manuscripts from the Arab Golden Age. Return to the ship for lunch, then visit the Sheik Zayed Mosque, a modern masterpiece inspired by the great mosques of Egypt, reflecting the diversity of the Islamic world in its Persian, Moorish, and Mughal influences, big enough to house 41,000 worshippers. Dine aboard ship tonight.
Sir Bani Yas Island
Visit a wildlife park on Sir Baniyas Island, home to giraffes, cheetahs, gazelles, flamingos, golden jackals, oryx (Arabian antelope), caracals, and more, which you'll get a chance to see on a safari drive with a naturalist guide; the park began in the 1970s as a sanctuary for endangered species; not only were the first animals imported, the lush grasslands and forests were all planted by hand. The island is also home to luxury resorts, archaeological sites – including the ruins of a 7th-century Christian monastery – and glorious palm-lined beaches, where you can spend time on your own. Return to the ship for lunch and set sail for Qatar.
Qatar / Katara
Arrive in Doha, a metropolis bristling with skyscrapers. Take a scenic drive along the bay, with a brief stop at Katara Cultural Village, where you can see examples of traditional Qatar dwellings and artists' communities. (Katara is the ancient name of Qatar.) Steep yourself in art, artifacts, and natural history at the Qatar National Museum, housed in a jaw-dropping complex designed by architect Jean Nouvel; its state-of-the-art exhibits walk you through Qatar's story from its earliest days to the discovery of oil and rapid modernization. Lunch at the city's oldest souk, where you can find everything from diamonds to spices to falcons. Alternatively, visit Al Shaqab, an equestrian center dedicated to the breeding and training of Arabian horses. At the Museum of Islamic Art you'll explore 1400 years of art from three continents in a building (designed by I.M. Pei) with panoramic views of the Persian Gulf. Dine aboard ship tonight.
A day at sea
Spend the day enjoying the amenities aboard ship, which include a lecture on the culture and history of the region. On the way you're sure to notice the numerous old castles and forts that decorate Oman's cliffs and coasts, a fraction of the 1,000 of them found throughout the country.
Khasab Fort & Desert Fjords
In the 17th century, the Portuguese built a castle on the Musandam Peninsula to control the Strait of Hormuz; but the Omanis soon took the castle and used it to defend themselves from the Portuguese. Today you'll visit the Khasab Fort with its impressive towers and strongholds, exhibits of traditional boats, and outstanding views of the bay. Then take a private cruise in a dhow on the captivating desert fjords of Musandam, often called the Norway of Arabia, where inland sea lanes wind among barren cliffs and mountains; the area is popular for swimming, snorkeling, and the dolphins that frequent there. Lunch aboard ship as you set a course for Sur.
Coastal delights & Fujairah Fort
Spend a leisurely morning aboard ship as you sail to Fujairah on the east coast of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Disembark after lunch for a drive to Khor Fakkan, where the mountains kiss the sea, and visit the little town of Masafi, inviting with colorful wares. View the oldest and smallest mosque in the UAE before seeing the iconic Fujairah Fort and visiting the museum. Dine aboard ship tonight.
Muscat Sights / Disembark
Disembark ship and set out for a morning of sightseeing. The Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque is one of the few in the world that allow non-Muslim visitors, and it is worth the visit, grand in art and scale, big enough for 20,000 worshippers, with an ornate central dome 160 feet high; the stunning Persian carpet in the prayer hall is the largest in the world, and took four years to weave by hand (inside visits are not allowed on Fridays). Depart next for the Royal Opera House, elegantly designed and equipped with cutting-edge technology. Explore the indoor maze of streets, alleys and bazaars at the Muttrah Souk, where you can find anything from fruits and spices to frankincense and myrrh. Pause for a photo-op at Al Alam Palace in Muscat's historic Old Town. After lunch, check into your tranquil, palatial resort overlooking the Gulf of Oman, with its own private beach, and spend time on your own. This evening, join us for a farewell dinner.
Tour ends Muscat, Oman. Fly home anytime. Transfers are included from the Shangri-la Al Husn to Muscat International Airport. Allow at least three hours for flight check-in.