Why go to Aqaba (Petra)?
Offers access to Jordan's two major sights: the rock-hewn city of Petra and the Wadi Rum desert
Con Has a high level of security, which may unsettle some passengers
A vibrant city where Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia meet
Aqaba (Petra) Cruise Port Facilities?
It's a 10-minute walk or a quick shuttle ride to actually get out of the port area, which is a maze of ships, industrial building and railroad tracks. At the gate, cabs are waiting to take you into town, or you can walk another 15 - 20 minutes to reach Aqaba Castle. The tourist office is located just behind the castle on Prince Mohammed St. (open daily from 8 a.m. - 2 p.m.).
Good to Know?
A popular scam at bars and pubs is the undisclosed cover charge, so ask up front about extra costs. We have friends who didn't and were charged $64 for four drinks (way above the going rates here).
Cab fare to the city center should be about $5, but drivers will try to get $10. Likewise, the two-hour ride to Petra should cost about $60 one-way and the hour-long drive to Wadi Rum about $40, but drivers will try to wangle a higher rate. Regardless of destination, always negotiate a price before you get into a cab.
Since Petra is best explored with a guide, we recommend you go the private driver/guide route if you're not taking a ship tour. Your cruise line will likely have suggestions. One firm offering such a service is Travel in Style, which will send a driver to meet you at the pier. Rates are $370 per person for two to three guests and $250 per person for four to six guests, for travel in a mini-coach. If you prefer to ride in style in a Mercedes, the price is $490 per person for two to three guests and $350 per person for four to six guests. The tour includes guide services and lunch.
If you go to Wadi Rum on your own, be aware that the best way to explore the area is on a 4 x 4 or camel tour. See more below.
Aqaba has been designated a Special Economic Zone, created for free trade. So although you're required to have a visa to travel in Jordan, it's free for those who arrive by sea. Your ship will take care of visa arrangements for you.
Currency & Best Way to Get Money?
The Jordanian dinar is worth about $1.41 U.S. (check XE.com for the most accurate exchange rate before your trip.) Money can be exchanged at banks, hotels and currency exchange offices, and you will find ATM's at banks around town. Most shops and restaurants accept credit cards, but fewer take traveler's checks -- better to change your traveler's checks into dinar. U.S. dollars are also accepted at markets and some shops
Arabic is the official language, but most people involved in the tourist trade speak English.