Silversea Cruises has released its full selection of cruise itineraries for 2023 and 2024, with 280 voyages to 690 destinations in 125 countries, including maiden calls in Arabia and Africa.
With Saudi Arabia continuing to blaze a trail onto the global cruise destination stage, Silversea will be calling in the kingdom’s Farasan Islands for the first time, as well as Djibouti in East Africa.
Both destinations will feature on Silver Cloud’s 13-day Muscat to Jeddah voyage, departing April 20th, 2023 from the Omani capital.
“Dive into another world in the Farasan Islands, where vibrant wildlife awaits. Just 40 kilometres (25 miles) off the coast from the city of Jazan, this protected marine sanctuary of 84 coral islands is a must-see destination for wildlife enthusiasts,” the cruise line says of the new addition.
Silver Cloud will be calling in the islands during the music and dance of the Harid Festival, which celebrates the island’s tastiest resident, the longnose parrotfish.
The islands feature untouched coral reefs with abundant fish species as well as larger animals like manta rays, whale sharks and turtles.
Ashore, passengers can go kayaking in the mangrove forests or explore inland to see the endemic Farasan Island gazelle.
The town of Al-Qassar features narrow streets lined with stone-walled and palm-thatched buildings that form part of a summer resort that dates back thousands of years with Roman era-inscribed stones.
While the Farsan Islands are part of Saudi Arabia, which opened up to the cruise industry for the first time just last year, and has already attracted MSC Cruises as a regular seasonal homeport line, the other maiden destination on the itinerary, Djibouti, is far less established.
“Virtually unheard of as a tourist destination, Djibouti was formerly an important trading link between Africa and Arabia, and later of strategic importance with the opening of the Suez Canal,” says Silversea.
“With this background the country has become a veritable melting pot of peoples and cultures. Modern day Djibouti reveals itself through this rich cultural heritage, sun-drenched beaches and some of the most wonderful geological landscapes imaginable,” it adds.
Shore excursions will include Moucha Island near the capital, a popular beach destination that boasts great snorkelling and SCUBA diving. Exploring further into the country however, passengers can find the northern end of the Great Rift Valley and the deep Edayle Canyon on the southern shores of Ghoubbet Lagoon.
A short distance further on is Lake Assal, situated where the Somali, African and Arabian tectonic plates diverge, creating the lowest point in Africa at 155 metres (508 feet) below sea level.
The salt-crusted shore and salt pans give it a somewhat lunar feel, and contrast strongly to the milky-turquoise waters, all amid desert surroundings that are some of the harshest on the planet.
These maiden calls are among several extraordinary locations featuring for the first time in Silversea’s 2023 and 2024 itineraries.
Others include Muroran in Japan on Silver Muse’s 17-day Vancouver to Yokohama cruise, Paphos on Silversea’s 24-day Athens to Venice cruise and Kalajoki in Finland during Silver Wind’s London to Helsinki 24-day cruise.