Cruising the Arabian Peninsula

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I’ve always wanted to explore Arabia. Magic carpets, genies in bottles, magical kingdoms and desert crossings on camel’s back. Idyllic as it may sound, this is the ancient Arabia that you can still find today if you’re eager to find it.

But first of all, some fast facts to set the scene. Arabia (or more tamely known as the Arabian Peninsula) consists of the following countries: Oman, Yemen, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait and some parts of Southern Iran and Jordan.

Of course this might instantly cause some concern for travellers, given the ongoing outbreaks of civil war and unrest in some parts of the Middle East, of which the Arabian Peninsula is a part of. But fear not! I was on a very safe journey through Arabia as I cruised from port to port on the 7 night Arabian Peninsula Cruise with MSC Cruises. Besides, its important to note that when a region is undergoing periods of unrest, it does not mean the entire region is unsafe to travel to. Moreover, a particular country may be pitched in the media as ‘unsafe to travel to’, however it is still important to note that the unrest in any given country is likely to be contained to specific areas, not the country as a whole.

Politics aside, this would be my first ever cruise (of which I will write another blog post on very soon), an experience in and of itself. As a solo female traveller who, despite some outbreaks in neighbouring Yemen at the time of travel, REALLY wanted to travel to this part of the world, this was undoubtedly the safest and most comfortable way to see and experience these countries. There are also very strong cultural differences between what I know in the Western world and what is acceptable and even lawful in the Islamic world, so as a solo (and particularly solo female) traveller, joining a pre-arranged group tour or cruise is by far the best way to have peace of mind when travelling to this part of the world.

The Itinerary

Dubai – Abu Dhabi – Khor Al Fakkan – Muscat – Khasab

Dubai, UAE

The cruise departed from Dubai, one of the world’s fastest growing cities that has literally popped up out of nowhere on the Arabian Peninsula. Ask any traveller who has been to Dubai in their travels some years ago and returned in the present day – this city is constantly changing at a rapid pace. I had already visited Dubai a few times prior to this trip, so I instead chose to arrive on the day of departure – a few hours before boarding time in order to get comfortable on the ship before departure. Once checked in to my 10th deck balcony suite, I wasted no time in checking out the panoramic casual dining on deck 13 – also known as the open-20-hours-a-day buffet. A.k.a where you’d find me throughout the journey if I wasn’t on shore exploring.

abu dhabi grand mosque

Abu Dhabi, UAE

On day 2 we arrived in Abu Dhabi, a city I had only been able to explore once before two years prior. We arrived in the early hours of the morning and I wasted no time hopping in a taxi and heading straight for the Grand Mosque. On my previous visit I was unable to enter the Mosque as I was in Abu Dhabi during Ramadan – the ninth month of the Islamic Calendar, which Muslims worldwide observe as the month fasting. The pictures tell more than words ever could, so I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether you will place this on your bucket list – though I would highly recommend you do! It is by far one of the most impressive religious sites I have had the pleasure of visiting. Be advised that strict dress codes apply, however if you are not covered correctly (particularly women need to cover the head, wrists and ankles), then there is the alternative option to hire an abaya free of charge. After the Mosque I spent the afternoon at the Emirates Palace indulging in high tea as one of the prearranged onshore excursions with the cruise line.


Khor Al Fakkan, Sharjah, UAE

I had one thing in mind when I arrived in Khor Al Fakkan: dune bashing. As an iconic desert experience that you can only enjoy in a few places around the world, I knew this activity would have to be on my Arabia bucket list. The day was pretty straight forward: drive to the desert, drive around the dunes, stop for some photos, return to the ship later that afternoon. Needless to say it was a lot of fun!

Nakhal Oman

Muscat, Oman

The capital city of Oman, Muscat, has for a long time been on my travel radar — and I’m glad to say it didn’t disappoint! With just one day to explore the city, I again chose to hit the ground running and embark on an 8 hour city tour that would also venture into the desert to see the Nahkal Fort, a 3rd Century pre-Islamic Fort that sits 60 metres above ground. Impressive.

Oman Khasab

Khasab, Oman

The final port we docked in was the coastal town of Khasab. Because I knew I would probably only visit this town once in my life, I shook off the tiredness from the jampacked itinerary I had experienced thus far and jumped in a 4×4 bound for stunning views of the fjords and Oman mountains. Better known as the “Norway of Arabia”, this location completely took me by surprise and I’d go so far as to say it is one of the best views I have ever experienced in all my travels. One for the bucket list!


At the end of the cruise I had one further day to enjoy Dubai. I chose to spend this doing one of my favourite things: eating Arabic pastries. In the evening I enjoyed a ‘Dinner in the Dunes’ night adventure and was lucky enough to get caught up in a sandstorm (I say lucky because after all its all a part of the experience!!!).

The price for this 7 night cruise is from $649 pp, twin share. Single supplements apply.


I was extremely fortunate to experience this 7 night cruise with MSC Cruises as a guest in celebration of the MSC Orchestra maiden voyage to Australia. My opinion is as always my own.

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    February 23, 2016 at 5:53 am

    You must have visited Salalah in Oman also, which is not only the 2nd largest city in Oman but also known as Jewel of Arabia. Next time do plan a visit in Salalah. Regards from Salalah

    Pedro @travelwithpedro
    February 21, 2016 at 10:58 pm

    That sounds like an amazing cruise! I’m a regular traveller to Dubai and Oman, but for some reason, I haven’t made it to Khasab, yet. And everyone does say that that part of the Arabian Peninsula is unmissable. Time to get my act together for the Norway of Arabia. 🙂

    Newcastle escorts
    January 19, 2016 at 11:12 pm

    That looks really very beautiful

    Alexa Hampton
    May 13, 2015 at 10:12 am

    Wow — these photos are stunning. I’ve spent a lot of time in the Middle East but never made it to the Arabian Peninsula — it is now on my list!! Absolutely love reading your blog, you are such an inspiration!!

    April 1, 2015 at 5:05 am

    Hello Brooke-
    Lovely post!
    I had a question in regards to this cruises. I am thinking of doing it my self, however, when you docked in each port, did you always engage in the organized excursions? or did you go off on your own? If yes, is it difficult/safe to explore with out the organized tours??
    Thank you!!

    March 4, 2015 at 7:17 am

    This sounds like a wonderful cruise! What a relaxing way to see so many places. Thank you.

    February 27, 2015 at 7:11 am

    Breathtaking! These photos are stunning. So happy you’re sharing these adventures with us. Adding some of these places to the never-ending list. xo

    February 26, 2015 at 11:32 pm

    Your traveling in Arabian countries is so fascinating! Love the way you see the life over there! – Daily Travel Inspirations

    Sarah Anton
    February 26, 2015 at 5:12 am

    Love it! I’m planning a trip to Dubai this year, can’t wait to go!! 🙂

    Michelle Marie
    February 26, 2015 at 3:51 am

    I’m chronically terrified of traveling solo as a female, so many, many thanks for this post and for pointing out the option of a cruise. It really does seem like a fantastic way to travel. Beautiful photos!

    February 25, 2015 at 10:49 am

    Amazing photos! Your blog is a big inspiration 🙂

    February 25, 2015 at 8:57 am

    Beautiful pictures! I want to explore Arabia, too!

    February 25, 2015 at 7:41 am

    So beautiful! I knew nothing of this location beforehand but now feel like I have to add it to the bucketlist!

    Brittany Stopa
    February 25, 2015 at 6:20 am

    Such a lovely trip! I loved my time in Arabia, and actually just wrote about experiencing the Arabian Desert in dune-bashing style!

    February 25, 2015 at 3:27 am

    This looks like an incredible experience! I’ve wanted to go to the region for so long and cruising may be the best option for a solo female.

    Silly Medley: Lifestyle and Travel

    February 24, 2015 at 10:22 pm

    Amazing photography! Thanks for sharing your inspiration!

    February 24, 2015 at 9:47 pm

    Sooo coool pics

    February 24, 2015 at 9:46 pm

    P.s. I just wanted to make sure – otherwise, a great trip, and amazing photos, thanks!!!

    February 24, 2015 at 9:42 pm

    Just wanted to make sure – otherwise, a great trip, and amazing photos! Thanks! 🙂

    February 24, 2015 at 9:31 pm

    You mean southern Iraq, not Iran?? Because it doesn’t add up…

    Jasiminne | Posh, Broke, & Bored
    February 24, 2015 at 4:03 pm

    OH WOW, your photos are BEYOND BEAUTIFUL. Everything looks like a dream! I’m having serious travel envy right now!

    Jasiminne | Posh, Broke, & Bored

    Jasiminne | Posh, Broke, & Bored
    February 24, 2015 at 4:00 pm

    OH MY GOSH your photos are BEYOND BEAUTIFUL! x

    Jasiminne | Posh, Broke, & Bored

    February 24, 2015 at 11:41 am

    Wow…some of your pictures look like paintings the colors are so beautiful.

    S. J. Pajonas
    February 24, 2015 at 11:21 am

    Wow! What an amazing trip! I want to go dune bashing. That sounds like a lot of fun.

    Adventurous Appetite
    February 24, 2015 at 10:55 am

    I REALLY enjoyed reading this post. The Middle East is definitely high on my bucket list, and seeing these pictures puts it even higher. Beautiful captures. Thanks for posting!

    February 24, 2015 at 7:36 am

    What an amazing experience, loved seeing all your photos and hearing about your travels to the middle east. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    February 24, 2015 at 6:55 am

    Ahhh Dubai looks amazing! I’ve always wanted to go
    xo janina

    Alisha | Lolk In Motion
    February 24, 2015 at 6:50 am

    Sounds like a fantastic cruise! I’ve always wanted to travel to Arabia. The Middle East is such a wonderful place and you captured your trip beautifully! Much love xx

    February 24, 2015 at 5:50 am

    Bucket listed!

    February 24, 2015 at 4:12 am

    It looks so beautiful :]

    Marie @ Marie Away
    February 24, 2015 at 3:06 am

    I’ve been desperate to visit the Arabian Peninsula for so long, and it always looks just as gorgeous as I imagine. Your photos really make me long for it even more!

    I’ve never done a cruise, I’m interested to read about your experience. Everyone I’ve spoken to about them tends to either love or hate the experience. It should be cool to see the perspective of such an experienced traveller. Can’t wait to read it!

    February 24, 2015 at 1:22 am

    wow that sounds amazing! i love your pictures!
    i was last december in morocco and really enjoyed it and now i have to go to arabia! the culture is so interesting!

    love from germany xo
    Jasmin from
    (i blogged about my morocco trip if you are interested !)

  • awanderlustblog@OUTLOOK.COM'
    February 24, 2015 at 1:10 am

    lucky you to get invited on that trip, I’ve just got back from a MSC cruise, round the canary islands – had trouble sleeping though in the sailing times!!

    it was great – post here if you’re interested

    February 24, 2015 at 1:01 am

    A cruise like this sounds SUCH a good idea for people wanting to visit this region. I’ve only been to Dubai of the places on your list but would love to see more – maybe this is one to add to the list!

    February 24, 2015 at 12:23 am

    Sounds like an amazing trip! The Middle East fascinates me and I hope I can visit some day. Cruises are a great way to sample destinations, but by no means the best way to see something.

    February 23, 2015 at 11:37 pm

    I think your photos are getting better and better, didn’t think that possible!!! Beautiful captured!

    21 year old backpacker currently in Vietnam

    February 23, 2015 at 11:37 pm

    I think you’re photos are getting better and better, didn’t think that possible!!! Beautiful captured!

    21 year old backpacker currently in Vietnam

    Jake Ryan
    February 23, 2015 at 11:14 pm

    Absolutely incredible. Every single place looks amazing, I have visited Dubai but I’ll definitely be adding the rest to my bucket list.


    Carly @ Let Us Wanderlust
    February 23, 2015 at 11:09 pm

    Your trip sounds incredible and your photos certainly show how amazing it sounds! I have been on one cruise a few years ago and it was one of my best travel experiences. I can’t wait to hear more about the cruise in future posts 🙂

    Carly xo

    February 23, 2015 at 10:52 pm

    Wow! Your photos look incredible! I’ve always been captivated by this part of the world but haven’t been able to visit yet. Definitely one for the bucket list 🙂

    February 23, 2015 at 10:11 pm

    Wow, incredibly beautiful!!!! I want to go there so badly 🙂

    February 23, 2015 at 9:25 pm

    Wow this must have been an incredible trip with beautiful places!!! I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

    Ariana (The Bosnian Aussie)
    February 23, 2015 at 9:04 pm

    I would love to visit one day. Everything looks like a scene from the Mummy haha

    Tessa / Bramble & Thorn
    February 23, 2015 at 8:39 pm

    Wow, these places look absolutely incredible! What a fantastic experience!

    Tessa at Bramble & Thorn

    February 23, 2015 at 7:58 pm

    This is a very good article. Thank you for a great information.

    Michelle | Lights Camera Travel
    February 23, 2015 at 7:46 pm

    WOW what a stunning trip this must have been for you!! It looks so incredibly luxurious and surprisingly affordable!

    February 23, 2015 at 7:08 pm

    This trip looks wonderful!I have been in Dubai twice and it is one of my most favorite cities ever and as you say the difference from my first visit was huge!Abu Dhabi is also on my list especialy because of its mosque.
    Travel notes

    February 23, 2015 at 6:48 pm

    So cool!! I never considered travelling by cruise, but this has certainly changed my mind. What an incredible experience!

    Chalsie | The Workshop Co. x

    February 23, 2015 at 6:29 pm

    These places look beautiful! I would love to visit Abu Dhabi and see the Grand Mosque one day, it looks absolutely breathtaking! xx