The cruise departs Bahrain on March 16th, 2023 and at the time of writing is the only cruise scheduled from Bahrain between 2021 and 2023.
Dubai is the Middle East primary cruise port and although there are some itineraries with other ports in the region as embarkation ports, they’re few and far between.
Crystal Cruises has a reputation for cruising to lesser-known destinations and operating more unique itineraries compared to other cruise lines and Crystal Symphony’s Bahrain departure is a perfect example.
The ship will depart Bahrain on March 16th, 2023 at 2pm in the afternoon, sailing overnight to Kuwait City, the capital of Kuwait. She’ll be one of just two cruise ships to call in Kuwait City in 2023, the other being the German cruise liner Artania of Phoenix Reisen.
Kuwait City isn’t a global tourist destination like Dubai or Abu Dhabi, but its home to a first-class aquarium, some excellent museums and an atmospheric souq, according to Lonely Planet.
A particularly under-rated museum is the Al Qurain Martyrs’ Museum, which commemorates a cell of young Kuwaitis who tried to resist Iraqi troops during the 1991 invasion.
Crystal Symphony will depart Kuwait City at 6pm on March 17th and sail for Doha, Qatar. She’ll spend a day at sea in the Arabian Gulf, arriving in Doha on the morning of March 19th.
Unusually for most cruise ships, Crystal Symphony will stay overnight in port, giving passengers plenty of time to explore the modern shopping malls, heritage sites and traditional souqs that characterise the city.
The Museum of Islamic Art, National Museum of Qatar, Souq Waqif and Falcon Souq will be of particular interest to cruise tourists.
While Doha is not yet as established as Dubai and Abu Dhabi when it comes to cruise tourism, it has a fast growing cruise sector and Crystal Symphony will be one of 63 itineraries calling in the city in 2023 (most of them by cruise ships homeporting in Dubai).
Crystal Symphony will depart Doha late on March 20th, sailing overnight to Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE and the country’s cultural and heritage hub.
The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, one of the largest mosques in the world, and the Louvre Abu Dhabi, with its globe-trotting collection covering the breadth of humanity’s artistic achievements, are two of the most famous landmarks in the city, but there’s plenty of hidden gems as well, such as pearl journey dhow trips and the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital.
Yas Island just outside the city is Abu Dhabi’s playground quarter, home to the famed Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, where tourists can take an F1 car around the track, and Ferrari World with its famous Formula Rossa roller coaster, as well as Warner Bros World and its thrill-seeker rides.
Crystal Symphony will stay overnight in Abu Dhabi as well, departing on the evening of March 22nd for Sir Bani Yas Island, the only cruise beach island destination in the Arabian Gulf.
She’ll anchor off the island on the morning of March 23rd, giving passengers a full day to enjoy tropic sunshine, pristine blue waters, kayaking amongst the islands mangroves or wildlife safaris into the interior.
The ship will spend the final night of the cruise sailing for Dubai, where she’ll arrive on the morning of March 24th, 2023, docking at the Dubai Cruise Terminal in the heart of the old quarter of the city, adjacent the storied Dubai Creek and historic Shindaga and Bur Dubai neighbourhoods.
There are a plethora of activities and attractions for cruise tourists in Dubai, from shopping in malls styled like Italian palazzos or a Persian palaces to climbing to the top of the world’s tallest tower, to dining at the highest and most luxurious hotel in the world and more.