Around the Arabian Peninsula: Dubai to Amman - 2021

Dubai • 13-night expedition cruise with Khasab, Sur, Salalah, Safaga (Luxor), Hurghada, Eilat, Aqaba • Amman
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  • 30
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Join us on the inaugural season of Vantage's brand-new luxury expedition vessel, the five-star Ocean Explorer, for a unique cruise around the Arabian Peninsula — and a whirl through time. 

On this all-inclusive tour, you will discover five nations — UAE (United Arab Emirates), Oman, Egypt, Israel and Jordan — where the wonders of 7,000 years of continuous civilization culminate in dazzling cities whose innovative architecture and wealth speak more of the future than the present. From the deck of the elegant Ocean Explorer, you’ll sail in the wake of Sinbad alongside vast, undulating deserts that were once primeval seas. Then, step ashore to discover the rosy red, Lost City of Petra … the pharaonic tombs of Egypt’s Theban Necropolis…the timeless Frankincense Land of Oman … the sparkling seaside resort of Eilat … and the Jordanian capital of Amman.

Along with 30 included excursions and Cultural Discoveries, you'll relish an included overnight excursion to Luxor, the site of ancient Thebes, whose vast Valley of the Kings and Valley of the Queens constitute the greatest repository of pharaonic treasure in the world. You’ll be surprised by the diversity, and touched by the gracious hospitality, that is part of the Arabic world’s nomadic tradition. 

Dubai to Aqaba

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Abu Dhabi & Dubai

FROM: $1399 PER PERSON | 4 DAYS | $350 PER DAY
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DAY 1:

Fly to Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Your magic carpet ride begins today! Today you’ll fly overnight from the U.S. to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

DAY 2:

Arrive in Dubai

If you purchased your airfare from Vantage, upon arrival at the airport a Vantage representative will meet you and arrange transfer to your centrally located hotel. Settle in, relax and take the rest of the day to enjoy a veritable treasure trove of luxurious pools, beaches, shops, spas and fine restaurants in and around your hotel. It’s located in the Deira neighborhood, which is Dubai’s historic center, near the waterfront Corniche. Dinner is on your own tonight.

DAY 3:

Welcome to Dubai

This morning you’ll meet your fellow travelers at a Welcome Briefing, then enjoy a panoramic Dubai city tour. Two of the most iconic landmarks will be the Palm Atlantis on its crescent-shaped man-made island, and the Burj al Arab, a sailboat-shaped hotel that stands more than 1,000 feet high, which you'll be able to see from a distance. But it’s not the tallest structure in Dubai…That honor goes to Burj Khalifa. Spiraling 2,717 feet into the air like a giant twisting needle, it is the tallest building in the entire world. You’ll also see the Frame, a giant, picture-frame shaped structure built to provide unique city views from each of its four sides. The marvels of Dubai are not limited skyward. You’ll also see some of the amazing, man-made luxury islands that have been created in the Persian Gulf, such as Palm Jumeirah, shaped like a palm tree. It’s studded with elegant villas, marinas, parks, and malls selling interesting jewelry, artwork, Islamic calligraphy, and more.

Lunch will be on your own in downtown Dubai and then the afternoon is free. Perhaps you’ll do some shopping at the Dubai Mall, replete with it own shark tank; get an eyeful at the Museum of Illusions; or get a nose full of beautiful floral aromas at the Dubai Miracle Garden. This evening you’ll convene with your fellow travelers for a Welcome Dinner at the hotel.

Included Meals:

Breakfast & Dinner

DAY 4:

Be dazzled by Dubai, and the Ocean Explorer

After a leisurely breakfast you’ll check out of your hotel, and enjoy a Dubai Cultural tour.

Unforgettable Moment: Get a feel for Dubai’s roots as you explore some of its historic icons. You’ll pause for photos at the magnificent, modern Jumeirah Mosque, before visiting the Dubai Museum, housed in the 18th-century Al Fahidi Fort; the Old Town with its gypsum and coral houses; and the wealthy mercantile Bastakia neighborhood. On Dubai Creek you’ll take a traditional abra water taxi to the Gold Souk, where you won't believe your eyes; and the Spice Souk, where you wont believe your nose! You’ll have time to enjoy lunch here on your own.

This afternoon you’ll transfer to the pier at Port Rashid, and come aboard the Ocean Explorer where the luxury continues. Get settled into your cabin, then check out the ship's many amenities, including a multilevel lounge, spa, fitness center, and more. Cultural Discovery: The captain looks forward to seeing you at tonight’s Welcome Dinner, featuring live local entertainment!

Included Meals:

Breakfast & Dinner

DAY 5:

Dhow cruise to Oman’s Musandam Fjords and Telegraph Island

After breakfast you’ll disembark in Khasab, Oman, to see something you most likely have never imagined to find in this part of the world . . .

Unforgettable Moment: A wooden dhow awaits to take you along the Straits of Hormuz to a spectacular, fjord-fringed region that is known as the “Norway of Arabia.” The Musandam Peninsula is carved by a series of inlets called khors, lined by mountainous jebels and sheer cliffs that plummet into the turquoise waters below. You may have an escort of seabirds or dolphins as we sail into the awesome Khor Al Sham, heading towards Telegraph Island, so-called for the telegraph cables that the British laid here in 1864. Bring your bathing suit in case you want to go for a swim in the clear cool waters, or just sit back with an iced tea as you admire the backdrop of 2,000-foot Hajar Mountains rising in the distance.

You'll return to the ship for lunch and an afternoon at leisure as the Ocean Explorer sets sail — grab a book and head to the sun deck for the ultimate relaxation, or perhaps you'll get in a workout at the gym.

Cultural Discovery: Later, head to the lounge for an illuminating talk from the onboard lecturer before dinner on board. 

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 6:

Discover Oman’s maritime heritage in Sur

Enjoy a leisurely morning on board as you sail to Sur, on the Gulf of Oman, arriving in the early afternoon. Cultural Discovery: Join the onboard lecturer for another scintillating talk highlighting the culture and history of your destinations. 

After lunch, you will embark on a tour of ancient Sur, first stopping along the way to see hilltop Sunaysilah Fort, a square castle with round watchtowers that was constructed in 1648. It overlooks Sur below and the gulf to the east.

Chances are Sinbad the Sailor made most of his seven fantastical voyages on board a wooden dhow made right here in Sur, which has been a premier shipbuilding center for nearly 2,000 years. An example of the city’s shipbuilding prowess is the Fatah al Khair, a restored, 70-year-old dhow that weighs 220 tons and now stands on dry land as a monument. It was made by hand without nails, using handmade ropes to shore up the joints. Cultural Discovery: Many dhows are still made this way and you will see several under construction as you tour the shipyard. Before heading back to the ship you’ll also enjoy a walk around the old fishing village of Al Ayjah, with its lighthouse, fort, and old merchant houses with intricately carved doors.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 7:

Cruising the Arabian Sea

Enjoy a full day to relax on board. Perhaps you’ll enjoy a workout in the gym, followed by a swim in the infinity pool. Relax with a cocktail in the multilevel lounge, or take in the expansive sea views from your very own balcony. Feel like browsing? There are dozens of books you may borrow from our library, or get a massage or facial treatment at the spa. Later in the day you will enjoy a port talk.

Cultural Connection: Enjoy another eye-opening discussion with our guest lecturer.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 8:

In the Land of Frankincense: Khor Rori or the Frankincense Trail, your choice of included tours

Spend the morning sailing towards Salalah, enjoying breakfast on board. Cultural Discovery: Another informative talk with the lecturer will contextualize your discoveries today. 

Salalah is the capital of Dhofar province and has been long associated with the production and trade of frankincense. This aromatic resin of the native boswellia sacra tree has been prized for centuries for its medicinal and fragrant properties. Several sites around Salalah were important to the incense trade that began flourishing between the Middle East, Mediterranean, India and China around the 4th century BC. For that reason, they are collectively designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site called The Land of Frankincense. After lunch on board you’ll have a choice of two included sightseeing tours showcasing different aspects of it. Both tours conclude at the Haffa souk, but begin as follows:

Khor Rori & East Salalah begins with a visit to the pretty white fishing village of Taqah, famous for the dried sardines produced here. Cultural Discovery: Visit Taqah Castle, the former governor’s residence that is filled with art and household artifacts reflecting the traditional Omani way of life. From here you’ll visit the ancient ruins of Sumhuram, also known as Khor Rori, the name of the freshwater lagoon that was Sumhuram’s vital link to the sea. The ruins here include smooth limestone blocks that once lined the city’s gate, fort, well, and storage rooms.

The Frankincense Trail Tour begins with a visit to Nabi Ayoub. It is reputed to be the tomb of the biblical Job, who is considered a prophet in Islam and is also revered for his patience and devotion to God. It is set in the lush green mountains of the Salalah plains, a land of plantations. Cultural Discoveries: You’ll stop to taste a fresh coconut water drink at one of the fruit stalls lining the road. Also included is a visit to the Museum of the Frankincense Land at Al Baleed Archaeological Park. If you’re wondering what frankincense smells like, you’ll find out when your tour concludes with a visit to the old Haffa souk, the best and largest in town. The scent of frankincense fills the air as you wander among the many colorful shops selling different grades of the resin, essential oils, decorative burners, and jewelry, handicrafts and more. Riding back to the ship you’ll have a photo stop at Salalah Sultan Qaboos Mosque, as well.

You'll return from your half-day tour in time to re-embark the ship for dinner on board as the ship departs Salalah.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAYS 9-12:

Cruising the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea

Enjoy the next few days relaxing on board your floating resort at sea. This is the perfect opportunity to indulge in some spa treatments, do laps in the infinity pool, watch a movie under a canopy of stars on the sun deck, or meet friends for drinks in the lounge. But that’s just the start:

Cultural Discoveries: During your time on board there will be an ongoing schedule of enrichment programs featuring cooking classes with special guest chefs, expert lectures on a variety of topics relevant to your exploration, classes, games, and more. Your days ahead will be filled with plenty of discoveries, so think of these sea days as necessary downtime before the excitement to come. 

Included Meals:

4 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches, 4 Dinners

DAY 13:

Arrive in the Land of Pharaohs

Today you will continue cruising through the Red Sea, arriving around dinner at Safaga.

Cultural Discovery: Prepare for your overnight journey tomorrow into Egypt’s pharaonic past as our expert lecturer delivers a fascinating talk on ancient Egyptian culture.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 14:

Overnight stay in Luxor, the site of ancient Thebes

You’ll get an early start as we ride across the desert to Luxor, the modern city that straddles the Nile and was once the ancient Egyptian capital of Thebes. Inhabited since about 3200 BC, it is still defined by its antique treasures, which include the temples of Karnak and Luxor, and the vast Necropolis of Thebes. Together, they comprise a UNESCO World Heritage Site and you will see them all today, with an expert Egyptologist to guide you.

Unforgettable Moment: As you approach Luxor you will enter the Necropolis and explore its most famous section, the Valley of the Kings. Here, for some 500 years, more than 60 pharaoh’s temples and burial chambers were cut deep into imposing rock cliffs, decorated with elaborate hieroglyphics, and filled with treasures and royal household implements. You’ll enter some of these magnificent tombs, including those of the powerful King Ramses and the famous boy-king Tutankhamun. You’ll also visit the Valley of the Queens, where archaeologists have unearthed more than 90 tombs of pharaohs’ wives and children.

Perhaps the most beautiful monument of all is the elegant Temple of Hatshepsut at Deir al-Bahri. Carved directly into a rock cliff, it is flanked by symmetrical, colonnaded wings and entered via a long, terraced processional walkway. Hatshepsut was Egypt’s longest-reigning female pharaoh, whose mostly peaceful rule was characterized by prosperity, prolific building, and the establishment of new trade routes. She is considered one of Egypt’s most successful rulers. Leaving the Necropolis you’ll stop at the famous Colossi of Memnon, two gigantic sandstone statues that served as sentries before the (now destroyed) tomb of Amenhotep III. Legend has ascribed oracular powers to them and they have been known to emit a curious whistling or moaning sound under certain conditions. From here you’ll return to the hotel for lunch and respite before the tour continues this evening. 

Unforgettable Moment: Achieve another travel milestone this evening when you explore the Temple of Karnak, the world’s second-largest religious structure. Built over 2,000 years, it is still being excavated and of its four known sections, only one is open to the public and that alone encompasses some 61 acres of temples, avenues, obelisks, pylons, sanctuaries, lakes and more. Among its highlights is the Great Hypostyle Hall, supported by a forest of 134 79-foot-high columns set in 16 rows. From here you will check into your deluxe hotel, where dinner will be served.

Cultural Discovery: Learn the history of Karnak, and the fascinating legends of the kings, queens, gods, and goddesses it was dedicated to, at tonight's spectacular Sound & Light show. You’ll wander among the beautifully illuminated temple grounds and the sit beside the Sacred lake as the past comes alive through light, music, story and imagery.

After, you'll enjoy an evening off the ship as you check into your hotel and enjoy dinner there. 

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 15:

Luxor Temple, travel overland to meet the Ocean Explorer

Check out of the hotel after breakfast this morning, and then head to the fascinating Luxor Temple.

Unforgettable Moment: More compact than Karnak, Luxor was mainly built by Amenhotep III and the great Ramses II, but also boasts shrines built by Tutankhamun and Greece’s Alexander the Great. Later it served as a Roman legionnaire fortress. Luxor was once connected to Karnak by a long, ceremonial avenue lined with sphinxes, many of which still stand.

After exploring the temple you’ll enjoy lunch en route while traveling overland back to our ship, which awaits in the seaside resort of Hurghada. Cultural Discovery: This evening you will be our dinner guest at the Alf Leila Wa Leila, and enjoy its popular Fantasia 1001 extravaganza. Set in a grand theater, this celebration of Egyptian culture covers thousands of years of history through elaborate costumes, music, dance, lights, water works, acrobatics and more. There’s even a display of whirling dervishes and Bedouin horsemanship!

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 16:

Eilat Israel Kibbutz experience or Dolphin Reef

Scenic Sailing: Enjoy breakfast this morning as you sail through the Red Sea. Cultural Discovery: Another interesting lecture preludes lunch on board today. 

Cruising into the Gulf of Aqaba, you’ll disembark at Eilat, the Israeli seaside resort known worldwide for its desert beauty, clear waters, and excellent diving and snorkeling. You’ll have the chance to enjoy the best of it with a choice of two afternoon sightseeing tours:

Your Kibbutz Yotvata & Hai Bar Safari option takes you into the Negev Desert and the Arava Valley’s Yotvata Hai-Bar animal reserve. Here, endangered and regionally extinct species are being bred and reintroduced into their native habitat. You might see Arabian oryx, Nubian ibex, red-necked ostriches, wild ass, Arabian leopards, griffon vultures and more. Next, ride to Kibbutz Yotvata and experience a slice of life one of the communal settlements that was vital to the formation of modern Israel. Its main industry is a dairy that is famous around Israel for its high-quality yogurt, milk, and ice cream, which you'll get to sample.

If swimming with dolphins is on your bucket list, choose our Dolphin Reef option. You’ll ride to a secluded, horseshoe-shaped lagoon where bottlenose dolphins maintain their daily routine of hunting, playing, courting, and socializing. They are friendly and curious about humans and you can swim and snorkel with them, or watch their antics from various observation piers and platforms. Other denizens of this turquoise lagoon include angelfish, cuttlefish, butterflyfish, and blue- or black-spotted stingrays.

You’ll be back on board in time for the Captain's Farewell Dinner and a relaxing evening.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 17:

Discover the “Rose Red City” of Petra

After breakfast this morning, you will disembark the Ocean Explorer in Aqaba — we hope you enjoyed your time on Vantage's first small ship ocean cruising expedition vessel!

Then it's time to accomplish yet another travel milestone. It begins as you step foot in historic Aqaba, where T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) led local Bedouin tribesmen in a historic revolt against their Turkish occupiers. Then, crossing the beautiful desert wadis, you will come to the town of Wadi Musa, home of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Petra that was built by the Nabataen civilization around 300 BC.

Unforgettable Moment: Imagine walking along the Siq, a winding, sandy pathway flanked by red rock walls so high and curvy, they nearly block the sky. Suddenly, you approach a large, keyhole-shaped opening that reveals a broad plaza and Al Khazneh, the elaborately carved, tiered Treasury building hewn into a cliff wall. Like the other ruins you will see here in Petra its color shifts from fiery red to soft coral to amber gold depending on the light. In addition to a guided tour of the ruins you will enjoy a horse-drawn carriage ride, and lunch inside the park at the lovely Basin restaurant, set among the ruins.

From Petra you will transfer to Amman via the King’s Highway, which traces the ancient route followed by Moses, the Israelites, Crusaders, and more. Then, check into your hotel and enjoy the rest of the evening at leisure, with dinner at the hotel.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 18:

See the best of Amman, capital of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan

Enjoy breakfast, then set out on a morning city tour. Though it is one of the most modern capitals in the Middle East, Amman is also one of the oldest, with a human history that dates as far back as 7250 BC. Amman was once conquered by King David, and ruled by Assyrians, Persians, Greeks, Egyptians and Romans. Its multicultural heritage is on display at the hilltop Citadel, with its blend of ancient Greek, Roman, Byzantine, and Islamic ruins. You’ll also see the 2nd-century Roman Theater and lovely Abu Darwish Mosque. Your tour concludes with a stroll through the Gold Souk, named for its concentration of jewelry shops selling unique local items.

After lunch at a local restaurant, the afternoon is yours to rest or explore on your own. This evening, you’ll toast the expedition at our Farewell dinner. Depending on your home city, you may be departing for home this evening on a late flight, or some time tomorrow.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 19:

Return home

After breakfast you’ll transfer to the airport for your return flight home. Or, if you’re joining our Jordan’s Dead Sea Treasures post-trip extension, you’ll stay in Jordan for three more nights!

Included Meals:


Post-Trip Extension

Jordan’s Dead Sea Treasures

FROM: $1249 PER PERSON | 4 DAYS | $312 PER DAY

Important Notice: The above day-by-day itineraries are preliminary and therefore subject to change. If changes occur while on tour, you will be notified by your Vantage Cruise Director or regional expert.

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Around the Arabian Peninsula: Dubai to Amman - 2021

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