Make 2022 the year to see the riches of the Arabian Peninsula. From ancient and UNESCO-listed treasures in Luxor and Petra to dazzling Dubai, Vantage invites you on this cultural and historical inaugural season voyage aboard the 5-star Ocean Odyssey.
On this ocean cruise, you'll set off aboard our 5-star Ocean Odyssey — built to navigate varied waters with ULSTEIN X-BOW® technology. Enjoy the service of a dedicated Concierge both before and after your trip who can help you make special reservations onshore, organize group activities, and more! Plus, enjoy enlightening lectures onboard and inform your natural and cultural discoveries onshore. Our intimately-sized Ocean Explorer is designed with a total of just 77 cabins — including a landmark 15 solo cabins — which allows us to dock onshore in most locations, cutting down on tenders and giving you more time to enjoy in your destination.
Across five nations — United Arab Emirates, Oman, Egypt, Israel, and Jordan — you’ll explore biblical history, sublime desertscapes and city skylines, as well as enduring religious and cultural traditions. Cruise on a wooden dhow through the Straits of Hormuz to Oman’s Musandam Fjords. Disembark for an overnight inland excursion in Luxor, which brings you to the valleys of the Kings and Queens, Karnak, Luxor Temple, and a stay at the indulgent Sonesta St. George Hotel Luxor. And discover Dubai, ultramodern playground of the powerful.
In addition to the services of our complimentary worldwide Concierge service, you’ll be able to further tailor your voyage with your choice of tours in Salalah and Eilat, including a chance to swim with dolphins on the shores of the Red Sea. With 30 included features and Cultural Discoveries, you’ll be thrilled by performances and the insights of a guest lecturer to enhance your understanding of this timeless region.
If you're interested in this itinerary and want to revel in even more Cultural Discoveries and immersive experiences, check out our combination cruise Across the Eastern Hemisphere: Singapore to Croatia. Explore more and save.
The stark beauty of the Dead Sea is almost extraterrestrial, with its barren backdrop of rocky mountains and flat sandy plains, and its bright blue shock of water, ringed by bands of white, crystallized salt. But beyond these natural marvels lies a trove of historic and cultural relics that predate biblical times. Discover them by adding a few days to your cruise tour on this fascinating extension that features the Roman ruined city of Jerash; Mt. Nebo, where Moses died after laying eyes on the Promised Land; the UNESCO site of Bethany Beyond the Jordan; and the mosaics of Madaba. While your itinerary is rich with discovery, your Dead Sea resort spa accommodations ensure that you’ll also be fully relaxed.
Fly overnight to Jordan
Today you’ll board an overnight flight to Amman, arriving on Day 2. Or, depart earlier for your pre-trip extension to Jordan’s Dead Sea Treasures.
Arrive in Amman
Arrive in Amman today. If you purchased your airfare from Vantage, you’ll be met at the airport by a Vantage representative who will assist you with your hotel transfer. Get settled in and rest up; tonight, dinner is included at the hotel.
See the best of Amman, capital of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
Enjoy breakfast and a Welcome Briefing with your Cruise Director before setting 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, hear about Jordanian culture from a local; then, toast the kick-off of your cruisetour alongside your fellow travelers at a Welcome Dinner.
Discover the “Rose Red City” of Petra, then embark the Ocean Odyssey
It's time to accomplish yet another travel milestone this morning. It begins as you step foot in historic Petra, 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.
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.
From Petra, you will transfer to Aqaba and embark the Ocean Odyssey just before your first dinner onboard.
Choose between Timna Valley National Forest or Dolphin Reef
Enjoy breakfast on board this morning as we cruise 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 a chance to enjoy the best of it with a choice of two afternoon sightseeing tours:
Your Timna Valley National Forest experience begins with a short drive to Timna Park. Located just 16 miles north of Eilat, at the center of Edom Valley, you’ll find the world’s oldest copper mines dating back to the 5th millennium BCE. These are believed to be the ancient mines of legendary King Solomon. You’ll have the opportunity to see the remains of Solomon’s Pillars, a grouping of perfectly formed sandstone columns, the result of frozen volcanic magma. You’ll also see The Mushroom, a monolithic, red sandstone rock formation created by centuries of erosion; and a group of natural arches — also formed by natural erosion — that can be found along the western cliffs of the valley.
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.
Your ship departs for Egypt this evening. Enjoy a cultural deep-dive with an onboard lecture before a delectable dinner.
Explore the twin temples of Luxor and Karnak
You will arrive in Hurghada this morning, where you will disembark the Ocean Odyssey and transfer to your 5-star resort in Luxor, a 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. You’ll have time to check into your room and enjoy lunch at the hotel before heading out for an evening visiting these magnificent twin temples for yourself.
More compact than Karnak, Luxor Temple 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. It was once connected to Karnak by a long, ceremonial avenue lined with sphinxes, many of which still stand.
After exploring the Luxor Temple you’ll transfer to 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.
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 then sit beside the Sacred lake as the past comes alive through light, music, story, and imagery.
Following the Sound & Light show, you’ll transfer back to the hotel for dinner.
Visit the legendary Valley of the Kings and Queens
Following breakfast at your hotel this morning, you’ll head out on a full-day tour of the West Bank, where you’ll explore some of Egypt’s most incredible sights.
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.
You’ll enjoy lunch at a local restaurant, before heading back to your hotel. You’ll have some time to yourself before meeting you’re your fellow travelers for dinner, which will be served at the hotel tonight.
Embark the ship in Safaga
Start your morning with breakfast at your hotel before checking out. You’ll enjoy a private transfer to Safaga, where you will once again embark the Ocean Odyssey.
You’ll have lunch on board, with the remainder of the afternoon at your leisure to fully enjoy your ship’s luxury amenities. Gather in the ship’s lounge this afternoon for an informative and engaging lecture presented by your Resident Lecturer.
Dinner this evening will be on board.
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 or meet friends for drinks in the lounge. But that’s just the start:
Vantage Onboard Enrichment:
Arrive in the Land of Frankincense: Explore Khor Rori or the Frankincense Trail, your choice of included tours
Spend the morning sailing towards Salalah, enjoying breakfast on board. 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. 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. 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, 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.
Enjoy another relaxing day at sea
Take a full day to relax on board. Perhaps you’ll enjoy a workout in the gym. 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 listen to a port talk.
Talk and participate in another eye-opening discussion with our guest lecturer.
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. 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. 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.
Embark a dhow cruise to Oman’s Musamdam Fjords and Telegraph Island
Enjoy a morning at leisure as the Ocean Odyssey arrives in Khasab after lunchtime. Spend the morning with a book and head to the sun deck for the ultimate relaxation, or perhaps you'll get in a workout at the gym. You'll also hear an illuminating talk from the onboard lecturer.
Cruise into Dubai and disembark the Ocean Odyssey
While you’re enjoying breakfast, the ship arrives in Dubai this morning. You’ll disembark the Ocean Odyssey — we hope you enjoyed this inaugural season cruisetour!
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. 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.
We’ll check into our hotel before lunch on your own and an afternoon at leisure. Perhaps you’ll do some shopping at the Dubai Mall, replete with its 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, we’ll reunite and venture downtown for a particularly singular experience: a visit to “At The Top,” the observation deck at the Burj Khalifa. The world below looks different from this heady height (you’ll be on the 125th floor of this massive building!), and you can tell your friends back home that you were at the top of this record‐breaking structure. Our Farewell Dinner tonight will be at a local restaurant.
Discovering historical and modern Dubai
This morning, you’ll embark on an enlightening half-day cultural tour of Dubai. The discoveries will come in waves, as you visit the Dubai Museum and the surrounding historic district of Al Bastakiya before crossing Dubai Creek on an abra, or traditional wooden boat used as a water taxi, to visit the Gold and Spice Souks. After a fun and active afternoon of discovery, you’ll have the evening at leisure.
Please note: Depending on air routing, some travelers may fly home late tonight.
Fly home, or stay in Dubai for your post-trip extension
This morning you’ll transfer to the airport for your return flight home; or stay on for your optional post-trip extension to Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
Soak up a little more luxury by adding 3 extra nights in two of the Emirates’ most glamorous playgrounds. First, you’ll experience a different side of Emirati life with three nights in Abu Dhabi, where high-end luxury meets sophisticated culture. Here, modernist architecture is taken to new heights with gorgeous buildings that seem to defy gravity, while the old, tribal traditions of Arabia are still expressed in the atmospheric souks, Arabesque houses, intricate mosques, and stunning desertscapes. Abu Dhabi has also become an art mecca, with the fantastic new branch of the famous Louvre, whose design is as visionary as the artwork inside. Then, enjoy a day in Dubai, where a highlight will be your visit to the observation deck of needle-like Burj Khalifa, the tallest building on Earth! You are already traveling this far…Why not spend a little extra time to let yourself be truly amazed?
Please Note: Ocean cruising is not the same experience as river cruising; as such, you may experience fluctuating tides and weather patterns that may involve some rocking of your vessel. Itineraries will include all activities as planned except in extreme cases that can’t be controlled by your shipboard crew. Day-by-day itineraries are preliminary and therefore subject to change. If changes occur while on tour, you will be notified by your Cruise Director or regional expert.