In the Persian Gulf states, old and new co-exist in innovative and intriguing ways. Its ambivalence is reflected in the choices available to visitors—from shopping in upscale boutiques and bargaining in a souk to traveling in air-conditioned limousines and riding camels in the desert, to enjoying five-star luxury and sampling Bedouin hospitality.
- Pricing from
- Trip Type
- Group Travel Tour, International Ocean & Sea Voyages
- Departure Dates
- Jan 8, 2021 - Jan 18, 2021
Optional Pre-Cruise Extension Dubai
January 7–9, 2021
Explore “Old Dubai” on this pre-extension. Depart home on January 7 and fly overnight to Dubai, arriving January 8. On January 9, board an abra (water taxi) to cross Dubai Creek and explore the historic Bastakia district. Learn about Dubai’s history at Al-Fahidi Fort and Dubai Museum, and enjoy lunch and a special presentation on Islam at the Sheikh Mohamed Centre for Cultural Understanding. Embark the Crystal Esprit in the late afternoon to begin the main tour. Radisson Blu Deira Creek (1B/1L).
Rates: $790 per person, double occupancy; $990 per person, single occupancy.
Optional Post-Cruise Extension Oman’s Interior
January 18–21, 2021
Explore the Bedouin culture of the desert on this three-night post-cruise extension. Depart Muscat for Oman’s Interior to stay at the Desert Nights Camp and meet a Bedouin family at the Wahiba Sands, a vast, undulating red-and-white sea of sand dunes that rise to more than 650 feet high. Explore forts, date plantations, orchards, and mountain villages from the luxurious Alila Jabal Akhdar Hotel in the awe-inspiring Al Hajar Mountains.
Desert Nights Camp and Alila Jabal Akhdar Hotel (4B/3L/3D).
Rates: $3,390 per person, double occupancy; $5,080 per person, single occupancy.
Barbara Horlbeck, M.A., is an arts and culture professional with extensive global experience. She is a lecturer, writer, independent researcher and adjunct instructor of art history, and has developed and teaches college and university-level art history courses, including “Arts of the Islamic World” and “Arts of the Ancient World.” As Founder of Arts and Influences, Barbara developed the successful Food for Thought Lecture and Lunch Series and created a series of in-depth seminars covering a broad range of topics from “Arts of the Medieval World,” and “Arts of China, India and Japan” to “Collectors, Collections, and the Modern Museum.” As a docent at the Minneapolis Institute of Art for nearly 20 years, Barbara has led tours for educators, specialists and the general public. She has traveled in nearly 40 countries, including five continents and the North Pole, as well as Iran, India, Pakistan and China. Barbara loves helping travelers develop a deeper understanding of our rich artistic and cultural legacy while, at the same time, placing works of art and architecture in their rich historical context.
- day 1 & 2
Friday & Saturday, January 8 & 9 Home / Dubai, U.A.E.
Depart home on an overnight flight to Dubai. Upon arrival on Saturday afternoon, transfer to the Crystal Esprit for embarkation. Crystal Esprit (Meals Aloft, D)
- day 3
Sunday, January 10 Dubai
After a welcome orientation and lecture, explore modern Dubai, including the Burjal Arab Hotel, which stands 1,053 feet above the ground and is located on an artificial island connected to Jumeirah Beach; Palm Jumeirah, the iconic man-made island that’s shaped like an enormous palm extending more than three miles into the Gulf; and Burj Khalifa, at 2,722 feet the tallest artificial structure in the world. From an observation deck on the 124th floor, marvel at the panoramic views over the surrounding city, including two new mega-tall towers set to surpass the Burj Khalifa’s record height. This evening enjoy a welcome reception and dinner onboard the ship. Crystal Esprit (B,L,R,D)
- day 4
Monday, January 11 Doha, Qatar
Doha is the fast-growing capital of Qatar, one of the host cities of soccer’s 2022 World Cup, and an important Middle Eastern financial center. Explore the Museum of Islamic Art, designed by I.M. Pei and located on the city’s Corniche. This architectural gem houses collections of metalwork, ceramics, jewelry, woodwork, textiles, and glass dating from the 1600s to the 1900s. Stroll through Souq Waqif, founded a century ago and noted for offering traditional garments, spices, and handicrafts. Continue to Education City, which covers more than five square miles and houses facilities for pre-school through graduate-level research and education, as well as branches of six U.S. universities and several European educational institutions. Crystal Esprit (B,L,D)
- day 5
Tuesday, January 12 Doha
This morning travel over towering sand dunes in four-wheel-drive vehicles to Qatar’s magnificent Inland Sea, a shallow tidal lake with a narrow outlet to the sea and shores in both Qatar and Saudi Arabia. After lunch in the desert, visit the Al Shaqab Stables, where horse racing is serious business and horses, which have played an important role in the history of the Arab world for centuries, live like royalty. Crystal Esprit (B,L,D)
- day 6
Wednesday, January 13 Abu Dhabi, U.A.E.
Arrive in Abu Dhabi, capital of the UAE and largest of the seven Emirates, and visit the majestic Sheikh Zayed Mosque, a dazzling construction of white marble, gold leaf, semiprecious stones, crystals, and ceramic tiles. The most significant mosque in the UAE, it can accommodate more than 40,000 worshippers daily and boasts what is regarded as the largest marble mosaic in the world. Continue to the Abu Dhabi Falcon hospital, also the world’s largest, where the birds that are revered as proud symbols of tradition and national pride are treated with an extraordinary level of care. Crystal Esprit (B,L,D)
- day 7
Thursday, January 14 Abu Dhabi
Spend the morning at the recently opened Louvre Abu Dhabi Museum on Saadiyat Island. There are 12 galleries curated masterfully in partnership with the Louvre, Paris. The stunning floating dome of light designed by renowned architect Jean Nouvel is a photographer’s delight. Nearby, see other landmark buildings designed by notable architects Norman Foster and Frank Gehry. Crystal Esprit (B,L,D)
- day 8
Friday, January 15 Musandam Peninsula, Oman
The Musandam Peninsula, a region of fjord-like landscapes and traditional small villages, is one of the Gulf States’ last wilderness areas. Board a traditional wooden dhow to access scenic inlets, and snorkel near a coral reef to view butterfly fish, groupers, and even dolphins. Crystal Esprit (B,L,D)
- day 9
Saturday, January 16 Muscat, Oman
Disembark the Crystal Esprit and visit the Bait al Zubair Museum and its comprehensive collection of Omani art and artifacts. Continue to Muttrah Souk, the oldest market in Oman and an exotic, fragrant treasure chest filled with gold and silver, antiques, frankincense, clothing, toys, and spices. Check into the Al Bustan Palace, a Ritz-Carlton hotel overlooking the Gulf of Oman. Al Bustan Palace Hotel (B,L,D)
- day 10
Sunday, January 17 Muscat
Begin the day at the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque. The primary place of worship in Oman, it is the only mosque in the country that allows non-Muslims to enter. The main hall, which can accommodate more than 6,000 worshippers, is crowned by an enormous chandelier of Swarovski crystal and delicate gold-plated metalwork. Continue to the Bait Adam Museum where the founder has turned his lifelong passion for collecting historical memorabilia—with a particular interest in the relationship between Oman and the U.S.—into a personal and intimate museum. Celebrate your journey this evening with a farewell reception and dinner at the hotel. Al Bustan Palace Hotel (B,L,R,D)
- day 11
Monday, January 18 Muscat / Home
Transfer to the airport for flights home (B)
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