They’re identical, apart from the embarkation days and overnight stays in port.
Golden Cities and Sands 1 embarks on April 9th, 2020 and spends the first night of the cruise in port in Dubai. This is the only overnight port call (apart from Muscat in Oman) on the voyage.
Golden Cities and Sands 2, on the other hand, embarks on April 10th (skipping the overnight in Dubai) and instead ends one day later in Jordan, allowing passengers to stay overnight in Aqaba instead (on the night of April 23rd).
In its publicity material for these two itineraries (which are essentially the same cruise), Marella Cruises describes Dubai as “a city that needs no introduction”. This is basically true, it is a global tourism hub and fast-becoming the go-to winter cruise destination for cruise lines.
But, Aqaba has something with which Dubai just cant compete, if you’re a history fan or culture buff. In a word: Petra.
“As Jordan’s only port, Aqaba is your gateway to the magnificent ancient city of Petra. Petra, nicknamed the Rose City due to the colour of the stone from which it’s carved, has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site for the last 30 years,” says Marella Cruises.
Found in the middle of a deep valley, carved into the rock and surrounded by craggy mountains, it’s one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world. It was established more than a quarter of a millennia ago and was for centuries a key trade capital on the ancient Silk Road.
No matter which itinerary you choose, the cruise will be 14 nights and will include port calls in Abu Dhabi, Sir Bani Yas Island, Doha in Qatar, Mina Sulman in Bahrain and Khasab, Muscat and Salalah in Oman before arriving in Aqaba.
Marella Discovery is fairly new to the Marella fleet, but isn’t a new cruise ship. She previously sailed as Splendour of the Seas for Royal Caribbean, and homeported in Dubai, sailing roundtrip cruises in the Arabian Gulf, between November, 2015 and March, 2016.
Built in 1996 and with a 70,000-gross tonnage, Marella Discovery is the closest thing the modern cruise industry has to a classic cruise ship.
She lacks bells and whistles like surf simulators and over-sea water parks, but she makes up for it with traditional charm and expansive amenities.
There are five dining options, seven cafes and bars, two main pools, four whirl pools, a Broadway-style two-deck theatre, and extensive facilities for children, from a baby room to separate kids and teens lounges.
Although without hi-tech wizardry like wearable tech or state-of-the-art showstoppers like robot bartenders, she features virtual dance classes and touch-screen booking technology that give the ship a distinctively 21st-century feel.
Categories: Middle East Cruise News