Dubai was the highlight of our cruise. We were fortunately able to go up the Burj Kalifa, tallest tower in the World, observe its lighted fountains displays in the evening, these are different every 30 minutes and explore the giant Malls with their exquisite shops, giant aquarium, indoor ski slope etc. Ensure you book for the Tower in advance otherwise it costs 4 times as much. Views over the city are terrific and well worthwhile. We bought a 2 day pass on the Big Bus, an open top exploration around the city and major hotels on 2 separate buses. Included also is a guided walking tour, a trip on the Dubai Creek and free entrance to Museums and other principal buildings. Not cheap but well worthwhile. If you are there for 2 days, buy a 2 day ticket which is much more cost effective and allows you to cover everything. You can see all the major sights and hop on/off as much as you wish.
Safaga is the jumping off cruise point for Luxor and the Valley of the Kings, a must see if you have not already done so. We had via a Nile Cruise so didn't relish a 4 hour each way coach ride. Those who did go were very impressed. Safaga port, like Sokhna is a dump! We took a minibus with Italians and Germans to Hurghada, some 45 mins away. Marketed as one of the main Red Sea resorts we thought it was like a downmarket Blackpool! We spent 2 hours on the main street being hassled by locals, found our way to the waterfront via a private hotel where the sea looked lovely and people were snorkeling etc. We were quite relieved to return to the ship after the ritual incarceration within a shop owned by the taxi proprietor and being forced to buy the usual junk before our return journey then being pestered for baksheesh! Not an experience to be enjoyed.
Ships tours to Cairo, 3 hours each way. Did that last year, too soon to repeat. Explored Alex by foot having run the gauntlet of taxi drivers, guides and various peddlers. Walked to the seafront and along the Eastern Harbour, ship docks in Western Harbour, then along the Corniche (promenade), past the Library. Very enjoyable, not many non-Arabs so we were highly visible but did not feel intimidated in any way. Adventurous trip on local bus, 10p each for lengthy journey. Stopped and observed wreath laying at Tomb of Unknown Soldier then walked back to ship. Lots of touristy stalls within dock confines near ship's berth and goods on offer decent quality and could be obtained at reasonable prices. Alexandria is an interesting experience.
Our biggest complaint was that we only had a 5 hour stay. We had been there on a number of previous occasions so decided not to join the official Costa excursions. The main ones were a train ride to Sorrento on specially hired train, a limited tour of Pompeii and a hired hydrofoil to Capri. We opted instead for an 8 person exploration of Naples on foot and made our way to the main square where we caught the funicular railway up the mountain to visit the castle. TIP - don't go on a Tuesday as the castle is closed!!!The views were however very nice and we eventually made our way back down by funicular, 1euro 10cents return, then checked over the Opera House and Grand Arcade before making our way back to the ship. A very interesting and economical excursion. The ship's departure was delayed by almost an hour an their official excursions were late back, unsurprising really as I didn't think their programme timings were realistic. Naples is a great destination and day visits to Herculaneum, Pompeii, Capri and Sorrento are well worthwhile, but you need at least one day for each.