Our next hosted Grand World Voyage with Holland America Line, January 5-April 30, 2016, will take you to some of the world’s less familiar cruise destinations, including the emerging cruise ports of the Middle East. This region combines a stunningly rich history with surprisingly modern features.
Here, traditional and contemporary ways create a milieu that adds to the fascinating character of countries like the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Oman. These and other Middle Eastern nations have some significant cultural traditions that you should be aware of before you sail there:
The weekend begins early. In Muslim countries, the weekend begins on Thursday, and Friday is the main day off. Accordingly, many onshore restaurants, shops and attractions are closed on Fridays.
It’s important to dress appropriately. Although the weather is often quite hot, the summer clothing you wear at home – shorts, short skirts, capri pants, tank tops, t-shirts, or anything that shows some skin – is not acceptable attire in most parts of the Middle East. To be respectful of local culture and to be granted admittance to mosques and other sacred places, here’s what you need to wear:
- Women: long-sleeved shirts that cover your wrists, and tailored slacks or long skirts that cover your ankles. Look for these items in lightweight cotton or linen. Also, bring a scarf that you can put over your head before you enter a mosque. If you plan to visit a beach, pack a modest one-piece suit; cleavage should not be on display.
- Men: the dress code is a bit less restrictive for men, but to be on the safe side, pack lightweight long-sleeved shirts and long slacks.
Take care where you point your camera. As you capture some of the beautiful architecture and scenery, be aware that it’s considered to be inappropriate to photograph Muslim women in traditional burkas. Tourists are usually welcome to take photos of local men or children, but ask permission first.
So, what can you expect to see on shore in the Middle East?
Our Grand World Voyage, aboard Holland America Line’s ms Amsterdam, will call on:
- Dubai City, UAE. Visit the domes and soaring minarets of Jumeirah Mosque; and, don’t miss the Burj Khalifa, the magnificent centerpiece of downtown Dubai and currently the world’s tallest building (take the high-speed elevator to the observation deck on the 124th floor).While in Dubai, Cruise Specialists’ guests can also enjoy “Midnight at the Oasis,” an immersive experience in Bedouin culture. You’ll travel to the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve for a demonstration of expert falconry and insight into the beautiful, fragile ecosystem of the desert. You’ll have the option to enter the overnight camp via traditional camel caravan! After a BBQ dinner, you’ll relax on carpets and cushions under the starry sky, then sleep in a comfortable furnished tent. (Note that this overnight excursion Involves off-road driving through some rugged terrain.)
- Abu Dhabi City, UAE. The glittering skyscrapers of Abu Dhabi contrast with the traditional beauty of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. You’ll love seeing this architectural treasure, which incorporates art and materials from many parts of the world.
- Muscat, Oman. The sandstone walls of Muscat’s Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque glow in the sun; the inside features cool marble walls and an impressive crystal chandelier. You’ll also want to peruse the artifacts in the Bait Al Zubair Museum.
- Salalah, Oman. Salalah may surprise you with its tropical vegetation: it has a monsoon climate, rare in the Middle East, which enables the growth of coconut, banana and papaya crops.
For more information about visiting the Middle East and many other parts of the world on our next Grand World Voyage, talk with your Cruise Specialists cruise experts.