The 20-night Mediterranean voyage in May, will be followed by a second longer 44-night grand cruise from Dubai to Papeete, the capital of French Polynesia on the island of Tahiti.
Nautica’s Dubai to Barcelona voyage will depart May 30th, 2023, with prices for the 20-night itinerary starting at $6,799 per person sharing for an inside cabin.
The cruise sails from Dubai around the Musandam Peninsula and through the Strait of Hormuz to Muscat, the capital of Oman. The city sits amid the Hajar mountains, with a plethora of Indian Ocean beaches and a history that includes influences from Asian, African and Arabic civilizations.
The old port area, enclosed by gated walls, is where visitors will find the Sultan’s Main Palace, while two well-preserved 16th-century Portuguese forts, Al Jalali and Mirani, guard the entrance to Muscat. The city walls contain the original beautifully carved gates.
Beyond the city natural freshwater pools in the mountains, parks, and nature reserves on the edge of the desert, and unspoilt, soft sandy beaches.
From Muscat its a two-day hop over to Salalah, Oman’s lush seaside resort city. Salalah is popular for its tropical wadis in the mountains, and its collection of Carribean-like beaches backed by palm trees and filled with power white sand.
Al Mughsail Beach, for instance, is a quiet and remote stretch of sand, full of caves and blowholes, while in the city itself the Museum of the Frankinscence Land provides a taste of Salalah’s history.
The museum is set within the ancient ruins of the trading port of Zafar, from which frankinscence was shipped to India, in return for spices. The on-site museum documents the history of the port as well as the area’s settlement since 2000 BC.
For a taste of the local culture and cuisine, visit one of the many markets and bazaars. Al-Husn Souq is one of the best, offering cotton headdresses, jewellery and heady incense. Further inland, visitors can discover the papaya, coconut, and banana plantations of the region.
After Salalah, Nautica spends four days at sea bound for Safaga in Egypt, the gateway to Luxor. For this reason, Safaga is an overnight port call, so that guests have time to travel inland to the site of the Ancient Egyptian city of Thebes.
Luxor is regarded as the “world’s greatest open-air museum”, as the ruins of the Egyptian temple complexes at Karnak and Luxor stand within the modern city, but this port call is about more than just the ruins of Thebes.
Oceania Cruises invites guests to “cross the Nile to the famed Valley of the Kings with the long forgotten tomb of Tutankhamun, the nearby mortuary temple of Queen Hatshepsut and the enormous Colossi of Memnon”, while other shore excursions include a jeep safari into the desert to a Bedouin settlement amid the dramatic beauty of the vast sand dunes.
Nautica then sails overnight to Aqaba in Jordan, the last port call in Arabia proper and another gateway city, as beyond the desolate yet majestic Wadi Rum lies the ancient ruins of Petra, a rose-coloured city hewn into the rock of the Jabal Al-Madbah mountain range.
The city dates back at least 2,600 years and was the capital of the Nabataean Kingdom. It’s accessed through the dramatic Siq gorge, at the end of which lies Petra’s most elaborate ruin, popularly known as Al-Khazneh (“the Treasury”), hewn into the sandstone cliff.
The Treasury has been one of the New 7 Wonders of the World since 2007, and the whole city of Petra has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1985, described as “one of the most precious cultural properties of man’s cultural heritage”.
Another modern wonder of the world lies beyond Petra and Aqaba. When Nautica departs that evening she’ll sail overnight for the Suez Canal. There’s no port call associated with the Suez transit, but the experience is on the bucket list of many an intrepid cruiser.
The 120-mile canal connects the Red Sea with the Mediterranean, creating a direct route from the Indian Ocean to Europe. Before it was built, ships would have to sail around the southern tip of Africa, and while this was great for the UK’s colonial port cities like Cape Town, it added weeks to the journey.
Although the canal in its current form was built by French and Egyptian engineers between 1859 and 1869, the dream of connecting the two great seas goes back much further. There’s evidence that from at least 1848 BCE, Egyptian Pharaohs had attempted the feat.
Nautica will spend two days undertaking a leisurely transit of the canal, before turning east for Ashdod in Israel, the gateway to Jerusalem, one of the holiest cities on earth for all three of the Abrahamic religions (Islamic, Jewish and Christian).
Jerusalem has been settled since the 4th millennium BCE and the City of David section is the oldest, although all the landmarks and holy sites, from the Dome of the Rock and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the walled Old City of Jerusalem to the al-Aqsa Mosque date back centuries.
Jerusalem has been destroyed at least twice, besieged 23 times, captured and recaptured 44 times, and attacked 52 times and remains highly controversial to this day. This portion of the cruise is known as the Holy Land port calls, with Haifa the following day also serving as a gateway port.
“Visit the land of miracles – Galilee, the Jordan River, the Mount of the Beautitudes and Tabgha,” says Oceania Cruises. “Venture to Nazareth, home of the young Jesus. See the largest hanging gardens in the world at the Bahai Gardens of Haifa. Or visit the Nahalal Moshav, a commune established in 1921 by Jewish immigrants.”
Nautica spends a night in port here in Haifa before sailing for La Valetta, the indomitable port capital of Malta, and the final port call before Barcelona. The island is famous to many for its bravery during the Second World War when the Axis forces did all they could to break the spirit of its residents, but Malta has been of geostrategic significance for millennia.
It has been inhabited since approximately 5,900 BCE and long been an important naval base and trade hub.
Almost all the great powers of history have contested and ruled the islands as a result, including the Phoenicians and Carthaginians, Romans, Greeks, Arabs, Normans, Aragonese, Knights of St. John, and the French and British.
The island is a layered tapestry of cultures and influences, with prehistoric temples at Tarxien, the beautiful walled medieval Mdina, and nearby Marsaxlokk, a colorful fishing village.
On June 19th, Nautica concludes the cruise in Barcelona, the cruise capital of the Mediterranean, home to the magnificent Gothic cathedral and the La Sagrada Familia, Antoni Gaudí’s unfinished masterpiece. Oceania suggests guests explore the charming squares of the old Gothic Quarter and the Ramblas, Barcelona’s famed downtown promenade after disembarkation.