Middle East Cruise News

Oceania ship Riviera to sail unusual 10-day cruise from Dubai to Abu Dhabi in 2023

Dubai and Abu Dhabi are just a few hours sailing distance apart on the UAE coastline, but this year Riviera of Oceania Cruises will spend 10 days cruising from one port to another.

Riviera will depart Dubai on December 19th, 2023 and arrive in Abu Dhabi on December 28th (with passengers disembarking on December 29th, because she spends the final night of the cruise in port).

During the 10-day voyage in the Arabian Gulf, Riviera will visit eight of the most popular cruise destinations in the region, with Saudi Arabia the only one of the Arabian Gulf cruise destinations not featured.

MS Riviera of Oceania Cruises

Riviera will cruise from Dubai in the UAE to Oman, Bahrain, and Qatar, visiting two ports in Oman, three ports in the United Arab Emirates and one in Bahrain and Qatar.

The first night of the cruise is spent overnight in Dubai, giving passengers more time to explore the city and the many attractions and experiences it has to offer, from dune bashing and Bedouin dinners in the desert to shopping at Dubai Mall and watching the iconic Dubai Fountains.

There’s also the Ski Dubai indoor ski slope in Emirates Mall, the Burj Khalifa (the tallest tower in the world), the Dubai Frame viewing platform near Bur Dubai, and the impressive new Museum of the Future next to Emirates Towers.

Other experiences in Dubai include Jumeirah Mosque and a stroll through the narrow alleys of old Dubai, or a journey along the Dubai Creek in a traditional dhow or abra.

Riviera then departs Dubai on the second night of the cruise, sailing overnight to Khasab, Oman, a small fishing village in Oman, nestled among the fjords of Musandam.

The village features pristine seas and jagged peaks, but its location makes it particularly popular for dhow cruises along the Strait of Hormuz. There are also humpback dolphin watching excursion in the bay.

Riviera then sails overnight again for Fujairah, the UAE’s only city on the Indian Ocean. Fujairah features fine beaches and excellent deep-sea fishing and snorkelling against the backdrop of the Hagar mountain range looming majestically behind the port. The Fujairah Fort built in 1670 is also nearby.

Muscat is the next port of call. The capital of the Sultanate of Oman, Muscat is home to the colourful Sultan’s palace and the Jelali and Merani forts, as well as a number of old, traditional souqs. Those looking for photo opportunities can also head up the Corniche and out along the scenic Batinah coast where they’ll find desert oases, fishing villages and the historic medieval Nakhl Fort.

Departing Muscat, Riviera spends two nights and a day at sea transiting back through the Strait of Hormuz and sailing across the Arabian Gulf bound for Bahrain’s port of Khalifa Bin Salman. This is where Riviera spends Christmas Day, arriving at 8am and departing at 6pm.

Qalat Al Bahrain

Bahrain has a history that dates back to 2300 BCE, when the ancient city of Dilmun served as a major trading post between Mesopotamia and India.

Remnants of this ancient culture can be found at an archaeological dig near Bahrain Fort (Qal’at al-Bahrain), one of the country’s two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the other being the UNESCO site at Muharraq.

More modern attractions include the Bahrain International Circuit, a major Formula 1 track that’s the site of the Bahrain Grand Prix.

After another overnight cruise, Riviera arrives in Doha, the capital of Qatar, which sits on a peninsula between Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Doha has a broad sea-front corniche lined with impressive, towering, and strikingly modern architecture.

Passengers can view it from the sea with a ride on a traditional dhow, or visit the I.M. Pei-designed Museum of Islamic Art, which houses the largest collection of Islamic artifacts in the world, while the Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani Museum displays one man’s massive collection of everything from cars to stamps and ancient treasures.

Sir Bani Yas Cruise Beach

Sir Bani Yas Island is the penultimate port call before the cruise ends in Abu Dhabi. The island features the only exclusive cruise beach destination in the region, with white sands, clear waters, and an all-day bar and buffet.

The islands’ interior is predominantly a nature reserve established in 1971 by the founding President of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. It’s filled with native and endangered species of Arabian flora and fauna, while half the island is dedicated to the Arabian Wildlife Park. Game safaris are available, as well as snorkelling, paddle boarding and kayaking.

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi.

Like it did in Dubai at the beginning of the cruise, Riviera will stay overnight in port in Abu Dhabi at the end of it. Abu Dhabi boasts opulent hotels, museums, and a yacht-filled marina, as well as old souks, and the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, which is inspired by the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul.

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