Thursday 26th of April 2018 until Sunday 13th of May 2018
Oman, Luxor & Israel ex Dubai to Athens - 17 Nights - from $6529 per person (Share Twin).
17 Night Cruise sailing from Dubai to Athens aboard Azamara Journey.
This is the voyage of opposites: modern vs. ancient, desert vs. oasis, but all similarly breathtaking. From Dubai, sail to Oman: high-rises vs. the architecture of the ancients, so there’s still a bit of mystery here. In the port city of Muscat the mystery is in the old town with its ancient city walls and watchtowers. Then to Salalah, more oasis than desert: beautiful beaches, waterfalls, frankincense.
The temples of Karnak and the tombs in the Valley of the Kings leave no doubt as to the opulence and power of the pharaohs. A late stay in Jordan introduces Aqaba, which divers and snorkelers will be thrilled to meet. History buffs will head to the ancient city of Petra, carved into rock. Nature lovers may prefer Wadi Rum, one of the most amazing desert landscapes in Jordan, said to resemble the moon. Shore Excursions in Haifa can include the revered cities of Galilee and Nazareth or a tour of some equally venerable vineyards.
Highlights of this cruise:
Dubai can already be mistaken for a movie set featuring a futuristic metropolis, and there are big plans still in the works. In the middle of the desert where almost nothing existed 20 years ago, there are so many building projects that foreign construction crews vastly outnumber citizens.
Everything is the biggest, tallest, and the first of its kind, including manmade islands shaped like palm trees and the world’s first underwater hotel.
It’s a striking collection of styles, including modern interpretations of Islamic architecture. And if the planet’s largest shopping mall doesn’t appeal, traditional souks do still exist, including a gold souk housing over 200 retail shops.
Meaning “safe anchorage” in Arabic, Muscat has a longstanding relationship with the sea. From its prominence as a trading port in the first century, to its importance as a modern-day commercial center, this elegant town with fine houses has an ocean of things to discover.
Take a stroll along the Corniche and enjoy sweeping views and some of the best shopping in the city at the Mutrah Souq. The colorful maze-like marketplace is filled with treasures like mother of pearl jewelry and traditional Omani handicrafts such as intricately designed shoulder bags and wooden carvings. In the nearby hills, you can also find plenty of frankincense (although we can’t guarantee the number of wise men to be found).
After you’ve shopped to your heart’s content, grab a freshly squeezed fruit juice from a street vendor and climb to the base of Mutrah Fort at the east end of the Corniche for a spectacular view of the city.
Moving uptown, be sure to visit the Sulan Qaboos Grand Mosque. The third largest in the world, it features a massive Swarovski crystal chandelier with over 600,000 crystals and a hand-woven prayer rug with more than 1.7 billion knots. Now that’s a rug knot to be forgotten!
As the capital of Oman’s Dhofar region, the subtropical city of Salalah is renowned for its khareef, the monsoon season from June to September that transforms this “Perfume Capital of Arabia” into an oasis. But this subtropical city has many other year-round natural sights to behold, including the waterfalls, lakes, mountains, and caves of Wadi Darbat, Mughsail Bay, and some of the most beautiful beaches in Oman.
There are also many historic places, like the ancient ruins of Sumahram Old City and the UNESCO World Heritage site of Al Baleed Archaeological Park otherwise known as “The Land of Frankincense.”
And if you’re looking for a little retail therapy, there’s plenty of shopping to be done, especially at Lulu Shopping Center and Haffa Souq, the largest and oldest souq in Salalah.
Safag (Luxor), Egypt
While Safaga has its share of charms, including renowned healing properties of the mineral rich waters of the Red Sea, nearby Luxor is where the main attractions lie. Known as “the world’s greatest open air museum”, the monuments, temples, and tombs found in Luxor are amongst the most impressive in the world.
Nestled in the heart of the city, the Luxor Temple is a great place to start your ancient journey of discovery. Nod to the two massive seated statues of the most celebrated and powerful pharaoh, Ramses II, as you pass en route to the chapel of Alexander the Great. Then, continue on your way to Egypt’s second most visited tourist site, Karnak, the largest religious site in the world. Marvel at the sheer enormity of the Temple of Amun, count all 134 columns in Hypostyle Hall, and then explore the array of smaller temples, sanctuaries, and shrines.
But wait, there’s more! The Valley of the Kings is just a quick jaunt across the Nile. Here, you can see more than 63 tombs of Egyptian pharaohs and nobles, including the infamous final resting place of King Tutankhamen. End your day onboard a felucca (a traditional wooden sailboat) and sail back to the east bank as the sun starts to set over this mysterious land.
Aqaba (Petra), Jordan
The warm, tranquil waters of the Red Sea are perfect for the growth of corals, and the masses of brilliantly colored fish that live amongst them, making Aqaba a prime attraction for snorkelers and divers. Inland is a vast desert of stark beauty that entranced Lawrence of Arabia when he headquartered in its empty canyons during WWI.
Even more awe-inspiring is the ancient city of Petra, carved into dusty pink rock by the Nabateans more than 2,000 years ago. Entering through a long narrow stone passage, you’ll come suddenly upon the massive façade of the Treasury and stop dead in your tracks, mouth agape. “Wow” doesn’t begin to cover it.
Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt
On the tip of southern Sinai can be found some of the world’s most spectacular underwater scenery. Crystalline water, rare and dazzling corals, and an incredible variety of brilliantly hued exotic fish have put Sharm el Sheikh on the map, and the must-do list for the divers and snorkelers of the world.
Those who wish to face inland, toward the historic and spiritual, will enjoy the ride through the stark and beautiful desert, to the foot of Mt. Sinai, where in the 6th century, St. Catherine’s Monastery was built, and over time became a repository for a priceless collection of early Christian art, architecture, and illuminated manuscripts.
Suez Canal Cruising
Experience the breathtaking illusion of sailing through oceans of desert sand as you cruise the 100-mile Suez Canal, the engineering marvel that connects the Mediterranean and Red Seas, and on its completion in 1869 permanently changed the face of maritime trade.
The passage requires no locks, as both bodies of water are at about the same level. Not wide enough to allow two-way passage, three convoys are scheduled to transit the canal on a typical day, two southbound and one northbound.
Ashdod (Jerusalem), Israel
Regardless of your faith, philosophy, or grasp of ancient history, you cannot fail to be moved and awed by Jerusalem. This magnificent and holy city has some of the most revered shrines in the world including the Western Wall, last remnant of the ramparts surrounding the Temple of the Jews, which was originally erected by Solomon; and the exquisite Dome of the Rock atop the Temple Mount, the oldest extant Islamic monument, honoring a stone sacred to both Jews and Muslims alike.
There's also the Via Dolorosa, where you can walk the Stations of the Cross, along a route of narrow, winding lanes, over paving stones some of which were in place at the time of Christ.
Haifa (Nazareth), Israel
Haifa is a modern city and seaport on the slopes of Mount Carmel. Along with the mix of religions that make up the fabric of Israel as a whole, Haifa is administrative and spiritual home to the Bahai faith, which preaches the unity of all mankind, and whose golden-domed world center crowns handsome hillside garden terraces.
Haifa is an excellent base for visiting biblical and archaeological sites. Within easy reach are the Galilee, Nazareth, the River Jordan, as well as Safed, a holy mountaintop city steeped in the mysticism of Kaballah. Today it is also immersed in the arts, and studios and galleries abound.
A fascinating intersection of cultural influences have shaped Limassol, a vibrant city located in the shadow of the Troodos mountains, on Akrotiri Bay on the southern coast of Cyprus. As one of the busiest ports of the Mediterranean, the city is a robust commercial center for tourism and trade, but remnants of Limassol’s intriguing history practically whisper tales of bygone eras. Known as “the town that never sleeps”, quaint narrow streets are filled with Limassol’s lively character and peppered with tavernas, shops, and bars, where you can find fresh local produce, famous wines and fine handmade goods.
Visit museums and archeological sites like Kolossi Castle, a former Crusader stronghold, the Grand Mosque in the old Turkish quarter, and the Archaeological Museum. Venture to the old port to explore the medieval Limassol Castle, built by the Byzantines around AD 1000, and allegedly where Richard the Lionheart married his queen during the Third Crusade.
You could spend a lifetime in Europe’s oldest city and still not see everything it has to offer. Settled over 3,500 years ago, Athens is like a mythological crossroads of the past and present, where modern buildings share the skyline with spectacular ruins like the Parthenon.
To see a veritable “greatest hits” line-up, make your way to Vasilissis Amalias Street for the archaeological walk. Winding through the heart of the ancient city, the route leads to landmarks like the Temple of Olympian Zeus, Ancient Agora, Arch of Hadrian, and of course, the Acropolis.
After all that archaeological digging, metaphorically speaking, you’re probably going to work up quite an appetite. So head to the Central Market for fresh fruit and veggies, nuts, olives, and Grecian cheese like feta, graviera, and aged kefalotyri. (Snacking is not a bad idea since Athenians usually don’t head out for dinner until at least 9:00 PM.)
And if you need a little extra pick-me-up to make it that late, have a frappe—a Greek creation of strong iced coffee with milk and sugar. Neighborhoods like Pangrati, Exarhia, and Petralona feature fantastic tavernas where you can rub elbows with the locals while dining on the sidewalk well into the wee hours of the night. Opa!
Please note, while prices and inclusions are accurate at time of loading they are subject to change due to changes in cruise line policies and pricing and due to currency fluctuations. Currency surcharges may apply. Please check details of price and inclusions at time of booking. Please ask for child and infant pricing if applicable.