A few months back I met up with my Sister, Tanya, & my Sister-in-Law, Sherry, in Athens, Greece to embark on a memorable 19-night Cruise from Athens to Dubai!
This is one of those sailings that I saw many years ago where, as soon as I saw it, I said “WOW, that’s a sailing I HAVE to do someday!”… and it was worth the wait as we got to visit some really unique & interesting ports on this Journey in places like Greece, Turkey, Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Oman & the UAE!!
FYI, we did this sailing on “Norwegian Jade”… as I talk about in the caption under this picture, this was my 12th Cruise with Norwegian so I have a lot of experience sailing on them and I was NOT impressed with a lot of the onboard Cruise experience. 🙁
And, unfortunately, in just the last month or so, they’ve made some even worse decisions when it comes to cutting down on their guest services & experience yet are upping the charges for those exact things.
Anyways, Norwegian is a line I’m definitely discouraging people from going on right now (Again, if you read the caption under this picture I explain some of the reasons why) so this post is going to contain zero feedback about my onboard experience…
…it’s going to be all about the itinerary itself & the ports we went to as I HIGHLY recommend a Cruise in this area whether you go on a small ship line like Regent, Seabourn, Silversea, Oceania, etc. or a big ship line like Celebrity, Holland or Princess!
Alright, let’s talk about what we saw & experienced as we visited 11 ports during this Epic 19-night Middle East Cruise!
FYI, for this review, I’m going to try something a little different…
…as I create VERY detailed galleries on my site here (the key is to read the captions under the pictures & videos as I do my best to give LOTS of details & insider info to help make your experience on each trip an even better one than mine!) I’m going to add a lot of links to this review so a lot of what you’ll learn will be on my gallery.
But, as my gallery contains lots of pictures, I think you may enjoy it even more as who doesn’t love to “visually” see things rather than just read about them! 😉
This famous city in Greece is a Very popular port when it comes to Europe Cruises!
Whether you do a Mediterranean Cruise or an Adriatic Cruise to Venice & Croatia or a Greek Isles Cruise or a Black Sea Cruise…
…or even a Cruise through the Suez Canal to Dubai…
…you’re bound to start or end your journey in Athens.
Which isn’t a bad thing at all as Athens is a Wonderful place to spend some time before getting on your Ship!
FYI, I’d recommend at least 2 nights in Athens before starting your Cruise!
This was my 3rd visit to this quaint beach resort town in Turkey, and as always, I enjoyed my time there… it’s clean, seems to always be warm & sunny, the people are nice, they have a nice market area there for shopping, a nice waterfront to walk along, lots of sea-side restaurants, etc.
As I state in this blog post, when you’re in Kusadasi, in my opinion, you HAVE to visit the ruins of Ephesus!! I’ve been to multiple ruins all around the World and this is probably the best I’ve seen! So, don’t miss checking out Ephesus if you make a port stop here!
With that said, since all 3 of us had been to Ephesus during previous Cruises in the area, as I mention under this picture and as you’ll see in the few pictures that follow that one, this time around we wanted to check out some new things so ended up going to The House of the Virgin Mary, The Ephesus Museum and The Temple of Artemis.
Beyond that, we walked the Beautiful waterfront, did some people watching, did some shopping in the market & and, overall, had another Great visit to Kusadasi, Turkey on a Sunny/Blue Sky day! 🙂
…that’s definitely not a bad way to describe our 3 days in Israel as our time there was truly a feast for the senses!!
What a fascinating history Israel has and the way 3 of the World’s most popular religions come together is something else!
Then, you combine all that with ancient ruins, a sea that you can float in (which is almost 1,500 feet below Sea level… wrap your mind around that!), modern cities, etc.
Let’s just say, you won’t have any problem filling your time when in this historic Country!
As you’ll see in this picture and the 3 dozen that follow it… while in Israel we:
Visited Jerusalem & Bethlehem… while there we visited the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem and then the Old Walled City in Jerusalem to see the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, we walked the narrow streets, strolled through the markets & visited the “Western Wall!”
Explored the Ancient “Hilltop” City of Masada and then followed that by a float in the Dead Sea
Toured modern Tel Aviv as well as the oldest part of the city, Jaffa
By the time it was said & done, we had seen & experienced a lot during our 3 days in Israel… a Very interesting Country!!
For 2 days during this sailing, we stopped in Safaga, Egypt which is around 4 hours from Luxor.
By far the majority of the people on the ship went to Luxor, but, as I talk about under this picture… I DON’T recommend doing that!!
So, to me, to just do a quick visit to Luxor… which includes 8hrs of driving! :-(… is NOT the proper way to experience Egypt… it’s simply too fascinating of a place to just “touch”.
And for those who went to Luxor for the day, they literally saw nothing as I did when there… overall, I talked to about a dozen people onboard about it (none of them were in the same group) and they all made it sound like a really bad experience! 🙁
Anyways, as I knew better than to try to visit Luxor in a day and as Tanya & Sherry are planning to do the Egypt River Cruise in the next year or so, we did some totally different experiences while in Egypt this time around.
As you’ll see here and in the dozen or so pictures that follow that one, for our first day in Safaga we did a 4×4 ride into the Egyptian Desert to visit a Bedouin Camp (which included a Camel ride!) & for day 2 we snorkeled in the Red Sea.
I have to say, I didn’t expect these 2 days to be highlights of this Cruise at all but they totally surprised me & they were highlights as the people at the Bedouin Camp were SO NICE and the 4×4 ride was super fun…
…and the snorkeling was, literally, some of the best I’ve experienced anywhere in the World!!
Overall, just like my last trip in Egypt, I REALLY enjoyed my time here again during this visit… Egypt is a Beautiful Country and it’s, truly, a Welcoming place with Super Nice people!! 🙂
In the last section, I mentioned I did a REALLY great Nile River Cruise in Egypt about 6 years ago.
My only regret about that trip was I didn’t do the offered extension to Jordan (To visit Petra) when I did that River Cruise…
…the main reason I skipped it was I was just in Tahiti for 2+ weeks, only 4 days before Egypt, so heading to Jordan seemed like too much at the time. Of course, now my whole philosophy on long trips has changed as I talk about here!! 😉
Anyways, a bunch of people from our Nile River Cruise group went to Jordan after our time together and, once back home, they told me all about it… let’s just say, Instant regret!! 🙁
So, for years, I’d been wanting to get to Jordan to visit Petra so this Cruise was the perfect excuse to do so… in fact, getting to Jordan & Petra was my biggest motivation for booking this sailing… and Jordan/Petra did NOT disappoint!!
As I talk about under this picture and as you’ll see in the dozen or so pictures that follow that one, the Ancient City of Petra (which is 1,000s of years old) was even more fascinating than I expected… for someone like me who’s traveled the World, it’s one of those truly/truly special places that I’ll always cherish that I was able to visit there!
Let’s just say, if you do a Cruise similar to this one and don’t visit Petra when stopping in Aqaba, Jordan… you’re for sure doing yourself a disservice!!
For me, I love exploring New Countries (the more exotic the better!) so I was definitely happy that this sailing was making a couple of stops in Oman!
Since this Country is known as a Very peaceful one and also the income levels there are Very high, I figured it’s probably a pretty nice place… and Oman didn’t disappoint!
As you’ll read/see in this picture and the 2 dozen that follow it, while in Oman we stopped in Salalah first and then secondly in Oman’s Capital City, Muscat.
While in these places we visited Beautiful beaches, went to museums, saw lots of Camels & Goats, visited an ancient port, learned all about Frankincense, went to a Palace, a local Market… and the highlight… we visited Muscat’s “Grand Mosque”.
Overall, it was a Great couple of days checking out some of Oman’s highlights!! 🙂
Although Dubai isn’t one of those places with a fascinating/1,000s of years old history… it’s still a VERY impressive place to visit as instead of experiencing culture & history there you’ll get to experience innovation at its finest!!
Seriously, it’s amazing how they built such a spectacular City in the middle of the desert!!
So, when I saw this sailing was making stops in 2 other UAE Countries, I was pretty excited as I knew they’d be showing off some of the amazing UAE innovation as well… and they certainly delivered/satisfied my expectations!!
As you’ll see in this picture and the several dozen that follow it, between the 2 stops we made in Fujairah & Abu Dhabi and the 3 days we stayed in Dubai after the Cruise… and then I went back to Abu Dhabi for 2 more days… I ended up spending a full week in the UAE during this trip so I saw & experienced A LOT while there!!
We drove through the mountains, visited a museum & a fort, went to markets, visited the oldest Mosque in the UAE as well as one of the most Beautiful Mosques in the World, did a nighttime tour of Abu Dhabi which lights up like a Christmas Tree, we did a jetboat ride, we went 124 stories up Burj Khalifa, we did “dune bashing” in the desert, etc…
…and on top of all that, when I went back to Abu Dhabi, I stayed on Yas Island for a couple of days which is a section of Abu Dhabi that features 2 indoor theme parks (Ferrari World & Warner Bros World/I enjoyed a day “playing” at Warner Bros World), a Waterpark, a Formula One Race Track, a huge Mall, a Marina, a Golf Course, lots of Restaurants, etc., etc.
Let’s just say, when in the UAE, you won’t have a tough time coming up with things to do while there!! 🙂
Well, at this point, for me to say this was a pretty fabulous trip is probably not necessary as I’m confident what you just saw with your own eyes helped you come to that conclusion!! 🙂
As I said under this picture, unless they make some major improvements, I definitely wouldn’t recommend this sailing on Norwegian Cruise line (or any sailing on Norwegian for that matter!) but I FOR SURE would recommend this itinerary as it’s a VERY/VERY impressive one… a trip of a lifetime to visit all these places for sure!!
As I know A LOT of my clients/many of you reading this book “small ship” Ocean Cruises, note that this is a Great region to sail with those smaller lines as the less crowded/higher quality tours you do over here, the better, since there are so many Epic things you’ll be experiencing in this fascinating part of the World!!
If you’re interested in learning more about “Small Ship Cruiselines”, these are the most popular ones:
Well, I hope you enjoyed my “look” at our incredible 3 week sailing from Athens to Dubai…
…make sure to get this itinerary added to your “Bucket-List” if you’d like to experience a Journey to some Exotic places ,yet, you’ll only have to unpack once while your, “home” for a few weeks, floats you from fascinating port to fascinating port! 😉
Any questions about this sailing or to get your next Ocean Cruise or River Crusie or Tauck Land Tour booked, simply contact me here… as always, I’m excited to help you get your next “Journey” planned & booked and your business is Very appreciated!! 🙂
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