Arabian Gulf

The calm, warm waters of the Arabian Gulf have traditionally been the home of ancient Arab dhows and vast merchant ships, plying between its oil rich nations and the rest of the world. It is more recently that there have been regular cruises within the area. Culture and history are the pride of the Gulf States and there's much to see in each of the popular ports of call.

Arabian Gulf

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The calm, warm waters of the Arabian Gulf have traditionally been the home of ancient Arab dhows and vast merchant ships, plying between its oil rich nations and the rest of the world. It is more recently that there have been regular cruises within the area. Culture and history are the pride of the Gulf States and there's much to see in each of the popular ports of call.

Dubai is the main turnaround port and ships often offer overnight stays in this city. This buoyant and progressive city, like its neighbours, is relatively crime free, spotlessly clean and home to some of the world's finest shopping opportunities. The warm weather of the Gulf region provides ideal cruising conditions on calm seas from December until April and many people find the opportunity to escape the British winter for a couple of weeks too good to miss. Linking a one week cruise with a week at a five-star hotel in Dubai is not unusual.

Many of the extravagant mosques are open to non-Muslims and the ancient markets are full of colour, charm and atmosphere. Spice, gold and textile souks provide a style of retail therapy that has not changed for decades, whilst the modern air-conditioned malls rival any to be found in Europe. Prices are much lower than in most European cities but bear in mind that sizes are often targeted at the rather petite frames of Asian shoppers. The holy month of Ramadan is strictly respected in the Arabian Gulf and some visitors may prefer to avoid this period.

Dune safaris, mountain trips and dolphin watching are also on the agenda as well as cultural trips which offer an insight into an area that is fairly new to tourism..

The Red Sea

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On the other side of the Arabian Peninsula lies the popular destination of the Red Sea. This tiny region, surrounded by the shores of Egypt, Israel and Jordan, has increased in popularity and in spite of the occasional unrest in the area, cruises to the Red Sea continue to be popular and attract those seeking a healthy combination of history, water sports and relaxation.

Sharm el Sheikh is the main port of embarkation in the region although many itineraries involve a route which starts or finishes in the south east corner of the Mediterranean, usually at Larnaca or Alexandria. This involves a transit through the Suez Canal and crossing Egypt's Great Bitter Lake. As the point of entry from the Indian Ocean  to the Mediterranean, this area is also a popular destination at the end of many round the world cruises, and can also be accessed on itineraries departing from Eastern Mediterranean ports.

The hot summers of the Red Sea resorts are not to everyone's liking and so most operators who frequent the area provide itineraries in the spring or autumn months. At these times the days are sunny and dry but with temperatures more appropriate for exploring the archaeological sites on offer.

Some shore excursions from the Red Sea ports require relatively long journeys by road if the more interesting sights are to be seen. Fortunately, most itineraries provide an overnight stay in port, which enables plenty of time to travel inland and even stay overnight near the places of interest. Fantastic opportunities like St. Catherines Monastery near Sharm el Sheikh, Petra and the Wadi Rum in Jordan and Karnak and the Valley of the Kings from Safaga however make this an opportunity not to be missed.

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