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Cruises to Muscat

Muscat (Photo:lkpro/Shutterstock)

About Muscat

The problem with a lot of the ports featured on a typical Arabian Gulf cruise is that they're pretty similar. Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Bahrain, for example, are all shining skyscrapers and shopping malls, glittering temples to excess. But Muscat, the capital of Oman, stands for completely different values: tradition, history, restraint. Although the country is far from lagging economically, it is deeply conservative and has always placed an emphasis on careful, controlled development. So Muttrah, the old waterfront part of Muscat and the first view to greet cruise passengers, has been carefully preserved, presenting a blend of traditional architecture and rugged natural beauty that many visitors find enchanting.

Muscat couldn't be in a more beautiful setting. The old part of the town, hemmed in by terracotta-colored mountains, spans a graceful waterfront. Its corniche is flanked by a 16th-century hilltop fort at either end, remnants of the time the Portuguese occupied Oman, protecting their trade routes to the east. As well as the cruise ships, container ships and private yachts that moor there, old-fashioned wooden dhows (sailing ships) potter around the busy harbor. If your ship overnights, the sight of the mountains turning pink while the early-morning call to prayer echoes across the old rooftops is unforgettable.

Modern Muscat sprawls out behind the mountains, away from the sea, but for independent exploration, the old part of the city is easily walkable and safe; it's there that you'll find the winding alleys of the souk, or market. Beyond the city, there are tours into the mountains and wadis (dried-up riverbeds) for 4x4 rides along the coast to visit fishing villages or inland to explore some of the medieval forts.

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DAY 1: Athens

18 Night
Cruise to Muscat

Leaving:
Athens
Visiting:
Haifa, Jerusalem ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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DAY 1: Dubai

30 Night
Cruise to Muscat

Leaving:
Dubai
Visiting:
Abu Dhabi, Fujairah ...
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Cruise Line:
Oceania Cruises
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DAY 1: Athens

19 Night
Cruise to Muscat

Leaving:
Athens
Visiting:
Kusadasi, Haifa ...
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Cruise Line:
Norwegian Cruise Line
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128 Night
Cruise to Muscat

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

Leaving:
Singapore
Visiting:
Kelang, Penang ...
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Cruise Line:
Oceania Cruises
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20 Night
Cruise to Muscat

Leaving:
Dubai
Visiting:
Muscat, Salalah ...
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Cruise Line:
Oceania Cruises
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Cruise Critic Favorite

107 Night
Cruise to Muscat

Leaving:
Auckland
Visiting:
Paihia, Sydney ...
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Cruise Line:
Princess Cruises
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73 Night
Cruise to Muscat

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

Leaving:
Rome
Visiting:
Naples, Crete ...
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Cruise Line:
Regent Seven Seas Cruises
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118 Night
Cruise to Muscat

Leaving:
New York
Visiting:
Southampton, Seville ...
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Cruise Line:
Cunard Line
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19 Night
Cruise to Muscat

Leaving:
Rome
Visiting:
Malta, Athens ...
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Cruise Line:
MSC Cruises
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17 Night
Cruise to Muscat

Leaving:
Athens
Visiting:
Alexandria, Cairo ...
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Cruise Line:
Azamara
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17 Night
Cruise to Muscat

Leaving:
Dubai
Visiting:
Doha, Muscat ...
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Cruise Line:
Seabourn Cruise Line
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55 Night
Cruise to Muscat

Leaving:
Southampton
Visiting:
Seville, Athens ...
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Cruise Line:
Cunard Line
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18 Night
Cruise to Muscat

Leaving:
Singapore
Visiting:
Langkawi, Phuket ...
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Cruise Line:
Seabourn Cruise Line
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11 Night
Cruise to Muscat

Leaving:
Dubai
Visiting:
Muscat, Doha ...
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Cruise Line:
Azamara
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36 Night
Cruise to Muscat

Leaving:
Singapore
Visiting:
Langkawi, Phuket ...
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Cruise Line:
Seabourn Cruise Line
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34 Night
Cruise to Muscat

Leaving:
Singapore
Visiting:
Kelang, Penang ...
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Cruise Line:
Seabourn Cruise Line
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20 Night
Cruise to Muscat

Leaving:
Dubai
Visiting:
Abu Dhabi, Muscat ...
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Cruise Line:
MSC Cruises
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62 Night
Cruise to Muscat

Leaving:
New York
Visiting:
Southampton, Seville ...
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Cruise Line:
Cunard Line
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16 Night
Cruise to Muscat

Leaving:
Dubai
Visiting:
Muscat, Safaga ...
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Cruise Line:
Silversea Cruises
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27 Night
Cruise to Muscat

Leaving:
Singapore
Visiting:
Phuket, Colombo ...
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Cruise Line:
Princess Cruises
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20 Night
Cruise to Muscat

Leaving:
Dubai
Visiting:
Muscat, Salalah ...
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Cruise Line:
Oceania Cruises
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104 Night
Cruise to Muscat

Leaving:
Southampton
Visiting:
Seville, Athens ...
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Cruise Line:
Cunard Line
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46 Night
Cruise to Muscat

Leaving:
New York
Visiting:
Southampton, Seville ...
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Cruise Line:
Cunard Line
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Why go to Muscat?

Pros:

The port is an easy walk from the town center, souk and the waterfront's Qasr Al Alam Palace

Cons:

Taxis are expensive and so organized tours are the economical choice for exploring outside the city

Bottom Line:

An architecturally impressive city within a picturesque cove, alongside great desert excursions

Muscat Cruise Port Facilities?

There's nothing to do at the actual cruise terminal, which is pretty rudimentary. From the shuttle drop-off at the port gates, it's an easy walk to the souks and the corniche.

Good to Know?

Oman is safe, and the people are gentle and polite. Be aware, however, that there has been some unrest in the wake of the Arab Spring uprisings, and you should stay away from demonstrations. Alcohol should not be consumed in public (you can get it in hotel bars and some restaurants but not in regular shops), and the penalties for drugs are severe. Oman is a conservative Muslim country, and women should dress modestly; if you want to visit the Grand Mosque, you need to cover ankles, wrists, neck, head and most of your face; there is an inspection at the entrance.

Getting Around?

As previously mentioned, the old part of the city by the waterfront is quite walkable.

Taxis line up at the gates of the port, but before you take one, agree on the price and make sure the driver understands where you're going. A one-way transfer can easily morph into an expensive "city tour."

If you want to explore farther afield, a cruise line tour or a private driver and guide are your best bets. Renting a car is not practical for a day, as you're likely to get lost either in the city or the mountains. Many people on our cruise booked private guides and drivers, some of them in groups they'd formed on the Cruise Critic message boards. Everybody agreed that these tours were extremely worthwhile. The mountain and desert safaris are expensive compared to coach tours, regardless of how you book, as you're paying for a jeep with only five or six seats, each vehicle with its own driver and guide. A privately booked jeep for two would be costly, but if you can assemble a group of six, an independent tour would undercut what the cruise lines charge.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money?

The local currency is the Omani rial. (See oanda.com or xe.com for the latest conversion rates.) There are ATM's in a few of the banks and shops along the corniche and in most petrol stations (which double up as loo stops on coach tours, so there will be a chance to get money). In the souk, traders will accept U.S. dollars and euros, but you'll get change in rial and are likely to lose on the exchange rate.

Language?

Arabic is the official language, but tour guides speak good English. Do not expect shopkeepers to understand you; sign language works perfectly well when haggling in the souk. Many people living and working in Oman are not native Omanis, so you will encounter Indians, Pakistanis and Emiratis in your travels there.

Where You're Docked?

The pier faces the old town, with wonderful views of the mountains and their ancient forts. You're not allowed to walk through the port, as it's an industrial area, so free shuttles are provided to the gates.


Muscat Cruise Reviews

Sussex Duo
Sail Date: Mar 2020
Muscat, Oman - Was Port 4 A pleasant port with an interesting fish market and several souks. The Grand Mosque is the third largest mosque in the world and the complex is mostly open to non-Muslim visitors. The... Read More
easyonthegas
Sail Date: Apr 2019
Muscat is a lovely place to visit, and the Omanis always very welcoming Just walked ashore to local souk but for $10 you can travel by taxi to Royal Palace... Read More
virgieskid
Sail Date: Nov 2018
Used Get your Guide and enjoyed another trip around Muscat...Grande Mosque, Gold Souk, Fish market, tour through the banana fields...they have an amazing beach.... Read More
mkesolo
Sail Date: Nov 2018
We were in Muscat on a Friday, the Muslim holy day. That meant that the Grand Mosque along with other sites and museums were closed. The cruise ship offered tours to these places. However, fine print showed that... Read More
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