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Cruises to Salalah

Salalah (Photo:Patrik Dietrich/Shutterstock)

About Salalah

As the hordes who now sail from Dubai will attest, cruising the Middle East may be fascinating, but it's not very picturesque, given that vast tracts of scrub desert are not especially easy on the eyes.

Salalah, Oman's second-largest city, is an exception. While not as beautiful as the country's capital, Muscat, Salalah has considerable charm as a cruise port of call. Its annual Khareef (monsoon) gives the city and the nearby al Qara Mountains a temperate climate, creating an emerald oasis amid the sand dunes.

If you want pretty Arabia, you'll find it here -- complete with leafy boulevards, lit by black and gold filigree lamps and lined with elegant, low buildings that have been created in traditional Islamic style, with elaborate latticework balconies and lovely, curved windows.

It also has some very pretty beaches, is a haven for SCUBA divers and birdwatchers, and is steeped in Biblical tradition, with some notable ancient sites -- including a ruined palace believed to have belonged to the legendary Queen of Sheba and the tomb of the prophet Job.

And then, of course, there are the fragrant groves of frankincense trees, which have earned Salalah the title of "Arabia's Perfume Capital" -- and which supply the wares for the pungent stalls at the city's atmospheric spice souk.

Salalah lies on Oman's southern coast, about 1,000 kilometres from Muscat. It is a popular call on winter cruises, often appearing on world cruise schedules and on Middle East and Arabian Gulf cruises, operated between November and May by Costa Cruises and smaller, destination-oriented lines like Spirit of Adventure and Regent Seven Seas Cruises. Most cruise visitors take ship-sponsored or independent tours there, as local taxi rates can be high.

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111 Night
Cruise to Salalah

Leaving:
Los Angeles
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Hilo, Honolulu ...
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Cruise Line:
Princess Cruises
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DAY 1: Istanbul

21 Night
Cruise to Salalah

Leaving:
Istanbul
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Dikili, Kusadasi ...
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Cruise Line:
Regent Seven Seas Cruises
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97 Night
Cruise to Salalah

Leaving:
Los Angeles
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Hilo, Honolulu ...
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Cruise Line:
Princess Cruises
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DAY 1: Rome

20 Night
Cruise to Salalah

Leaving:
Rome
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Naples, Crete ...
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Cruise Line:
Regent Seven Seas Cruises
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42 Night
Cruise to Salalah

Leaving:
Istanbul
Visiting:
Dikili, Kusadasi ...
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Cruise Line:
Regent Seven Seas Cruises
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128 Night
Cruise to Salalah

Leaving:
Fort Lauderdale
Visiting:
Scarborough, Devil's Island ...
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Cruise Line:
Holland America Line
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111 Night
Cruise to Salalah

Leaving:
Fort Lauderdale
Visiting:
Cartagena, Panama Canal ...
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Cruise Line:
Princess Cruises
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10 Night
Cruise to Salalah

Leaving:
Venice
Visiting:
Split, Dubrovnik ...
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Cruise Line:
Regent Seven Seas Cruises
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25 Night
Cruise to Salalah

Leaving:
Venice
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Split, Crete ...
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Cruise Line:
MSC Cruises
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19 Night
Cruise to Salalah

Leaving:
Rome
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Malta, Athens ...
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Cruise Line:
MSC Cruises
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24 Night
Cruise to Salalah

Leaving:
Lisbon
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Barcelona, Marseille ...
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Cruise Line:
MSC Cruises
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126 Night
Cruise to Salalah

Leaving:
Venice
Visiting:
Dubrovnik, Catania ...
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Cruise Line:
Costa Cruises
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113 Night
Cruise to Salalah

Leaving:
Barcelona
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Malaga, Casablanca ...
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Cruise Line:
Costa Cruises
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21 Night
Cruise to Salalah

Leaving:
Marseille
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Genoa, Rome ...
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Cruise Line:
MSC Cruises
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73 Night
Cruise to Salalah

Leaving:
Istanbul
Visiting:
Dikili, Kusadasi ...
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Cruise Line:
Regent Seven Seas Cruises
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117 Night
Cruise to Salalah

Leaving:
Rome
Visiting:
Genoa, Marseille ...
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Cruise Line:
Costa Cruises
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118 Night
Cruise to Salalah

Leaving:
New York
Visiting:
Southampton, Seville ...
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Cruise Line:
Cunard Line
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116 Night
Cruise to Salalah

Leaving:
Los Angeles
Visiting:
Honolulu, Kauai ...
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Cruise Line:
Crystal Cruises
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88 Night
Cruise to Salalah

Leaving:
Fort Lauderdale
Visiting:
Cartagena, Panama Canal ...
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Cruise Line:
Princess Cruises
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86 Night
Cruise to Salalah

Leaving:
Los Angeles
Visiting:
Honolulu, Kauai ...
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Cruise Line:
Crystal Cruises
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116 Night
Cruise to Salalah

Leaving:
Miami
Visiting:
Ocho Rios, Cartagena ...
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Cruise Line:
Crystal Cruises
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104 Night
Cruise to Salalah

Leaving:
Southampton
Visiting:
Seville, Athens ...
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Cruise Line:
Cunard Line
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100 Night
Cruise to Salalah

Leaving:
Los Angeles
Visiting:
Honolulu, Kauai ...
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Cruise Line:
Crystal Cruises
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38 Night
Cruise to Salalah

Leaving:
Singapore
Visiting:
Kelang, Penang ...
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Cruise Line:
Oceania Cruises
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102 Night
Cruise to Salalah

Leaving:
Miami
Visiting:
Ocho Rios, Cartagena ...
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Cruise Line:
Crystal Cruises
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Why go to Salalah?

Pros:

Ancient tombs and artefacts can be explored, together with an atmospheric souk

Cons:

Cruises dock in the commercial area and transport is required in order to access the city

Bottom Line:

It combines a fascinating history and good beaches with a pleasant sightseeing climate

Salalah Cruise Port Facilities?

There are no facilities at the port, and there's nothing to do nearby, but you'll find a Crowne Plaza and a Hilton en route to town (about five minutes' drive from the port); both have Internet access and ATM machines.

Good to Know?

Salalah is prosperous and well-cared-for, with broad streets that are lined with verdant, grassy verges. (Money is clearly no object where maintenance is concerned.) When walking about, though, you may (literally) stumble across some uneven paving stones, so take care, and wear flat shoes for exploring.

Also, keep a lookout for stalls selling milk bananas and lady finger bananas. Locally grown, they are about half the size of typical bananas; they're sweet and definitely worth tasting.

Getting Around?

Downtown shuttles are not allowed into the port area by the protectionist local taxi drivers association, which offers its services at the port gates. Many cruise lines offer a tour that's essentially roundtrip transportation to the souk.

A taxi ride downtown costs about five Rials by taxi. It's hard to get a firm idea of rates from the port gate drivers, but do negotiate; our booked-in-advance driver quoted five Rials (about $12), but the port agent quoted $20! A roundtrip ride to Job's Tomb (including time for you to look around) should cost about 20 Rials.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money?

The local currency is the Omani Rial; see www.oanda.com or www.xe.com for the latest conversion rates. Although you won't be able to withdraw or exchange local currency at the port, ATM's can be found at the Hilton and Crowne Plaza Hotels (about five minutes by taxi from the dock).

Language?

Arabic is the main language, but a local variation called Shehri is widely spoken. Most of the locals will speak at least a smattering of English.

Where You're Docked?

Salalah Port itself is just scrubland and is very dusty, with containers stacked high. It's a long, hot, grubby walk to the dock gate, but most ships will shuttle you there. The port is a 15-minute drive from downtown.


Salalah Cruise Reviews

highseasally
Sail Date: Jan 2020
Been here before.... Read More
geoffstravels
Sail Date: Jan 2020
The town has grown out of being a small fishing and beach location to now a large regional town that has lost its character.... Read More
allison1952
Sail Date: Nov 2019
We just walked off the ship and spent time in the markets.... Read More
Crag rat
Sail Date: Oct 2019
Been here before so, went to nearby Oasis Club and beach.... Read More
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