Middle East Cruise News

Cunard Line announces 2023 Dubai to UK cruise aboard Queen Victoria

Queen Victoria will cruise from Dubai for the UK at the tail end of the 2022/23 cruise season, departing the city on April 3rd for a 20-night voyage to Southampton.

The cruise can also be booked as a 22-night itinerary ending in Hamburg, Germany instead of Southampton, and is one of two Cunard cruises available from Dubai during 2023. Prices start at £3,209 per person sharing an inside Britannia cabin.

The other is a 12-night voyage from Dubai to Singapore aboard Queen Mary 2, the flagship of the Cunard fleet, and the only remaining ocean liner in cruise service.

Queen Victoria

Like P&O Cruises’ Dubai itinerary in 2023, Queen Victoria will channel the ocean liners of the previous century with a port-lean point A to point B itinerary that calls in just four ports between Dubai and Southampton.

The first three days of the cruise will be spent at sea as Queen Victoria makes for the Indian Ocean, rounding the Musandum Peninsula and transiting the Strait of Hormuz to sail down the coast of Oman for Salalah, one of the greenest cities in the whole region.

Salalah benefits from the khareef the period of time between June and September when monsoon rains cause the landscape to explode into lush green vegetation. For this reason, the city is popular for its tropical wadis in the mountains, and its collection of beaches, which feel almost Caribbean.

Al Mughsail Beach, for instance, is a quiet and wild-feeling 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.

Street fruit stalls in Salalah

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 departing Salalah, Queen Victoria spend four days at sea heading for Aqaba in Jordan, the last Middle East port on the itinerary, and the gateway to the iconic ancient city of Petra.

Aqaba in Jordan is the gateway to Petra.

“Looming like a mirage that melts into the copper sandstone hills of the desert, [Petra] is a rare and magnificent delight,” says Cunard Line.

The red-rose city, carved into bare rockface and famously described as “half as old as time” is entered via a mile-long winding gorge known as the Siq. Visitors then stroll among the carved sandstone buildings that date back to at least 300 BCE, when the city was a major trading metropolis for the Nabateans, an Arab Bedouin tribe indigenous to the region.

In 312 BCE it was attacked by Greek Empire, marking the first reference to Petra in recorded history. Although the Greeks were defeated, the Roman Empire annexed the region 200 years later and ruled over it for 250 years, until an earthquake destroyed many of its buildings.

By the beginning of the eighth century CE, Petra was largely abandoned and no longer a significant location commercially, politically or culturally, and was largely lost to time until it was rediscovered by the explorer John Lewis Burckhardt in the 18th century.

There’s more to Aqaba than just Petra though. The city is a popular seaside tourist town, backed by burnt orange mountains and fronted by the Red Sea, with the Mars-like landscapes of Wadi Rum beyond.

Camels in the desert of Wadi Rum.

Its restaurants are lively with fresh fish and beautiful coastal views while shopping in the Old Town’s souks provides ample opportunity for bartering. The majestic Sharif Hussein bin Ali Mosque, Aqaba Castle – originally built in the 12th century – and the Great Arab Revolt Plaza, commemorating the revolt against the Ottoman Empire, are among the cultural highlights.

From Aqaba, Queen Victoria sets sail for the Suez Canal, one of the modern wonders of the world and an unparalleled engineering feat that was centuries in the making. It takes a full day to transit the 120-mile route between the Mediterranean and Red Sea, with a dramatic pass under the El Ferdan Railway Bridge, the world’s largest swing bridge.

Then Queen Victoria calls in Naples, sailing by the Capri and Ischia islands, and giving passengers the opportunity to explore the wide choice of beautiful buildings, stunning parks and appetizing Italian eateries.

Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, is the final port call before the ship’s arrival in Southampton. The city is home to impressive ancient sites over the seven steep hillsides that overlook the Tagus Estuary and River.

“Lisbon is one of the oldest cities in the world, its origins traceable to 1200 BC. Among its rooftops, Gothic towers and decadent domes burst from a sea of red-tiled buildings, while at ground level you’ll see elegant shops, graceful palacios and ancient ruins,” Cunard Line says of Lisbon.

Queen Victoria arrives in Southampton on April 23rd, 2023, and while this is a port-lean itinerary, the ship itself has plenty to offer as well, from her 5 restaurants and 9 cafes and bars, to her three pools and 4 Jacuzzis, spa, gym, theatre, casino, and her many lounges.

Queen Victoria is a modern cruise ship, but she retains the feel and traditions of an ocean liner with a Commodore Club observation lounge overlooking the boy, and a Winter Garden lounge, which invokes the memory of Cunard Line’s original Winter Garden cafes which began the trend of offering specialty dining experiences at sea.

There’s also a Midships lounge, Admirals lounge, and Chart room lounge, where guests can attend destination and history lectures, dance to a live band, watch various entertainment offerings and chat and meet fellow passengers.

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