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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.

  • Why go to Muscat?

  • Muscat Cruise Port Facilities?

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Riviera
Riviera

10 Night
Middle East CruiseDetails

707 Reviews
Leaving:Dubai
Cruise Line:Oceania Cruises
Dec 19, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Nautica
Nautica

30 Night
Africa CruiseDetails

355 Reviews
Leaving:Dubai
Cruise Line:Oceania Cruises
Dec 7, 2022
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Riviera
Riviera

15 Night
Mediterranean CruiseDetails

707 Reviews
Leaving:Dubai
Cruise Line:Oceania Cruises
May 14, 2024
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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MSC Opera
MSC Opera

26 Night
Middle East CruiseDetails

295 Reviews
Leaving:Barcelona
Cruise Line:MSC Cruises
Nov 1, 2022
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Virgin Voyages

Cruise Critic Favorite

128 Night
128-day Grand World VoyageDetails

1,004 Reviews
Cruise Line:Holland America Line
Jan 3, 2024
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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31 Night
Africa CruiseDetails

320 Reviews
Leaving:Cape Town
Cruise Line:Silversea Cruises
Feb 11, 2024
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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18 Night
Africa-south AfricaDetails

1,965 Reviews
Leaving:Cape Town
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
Jan 26, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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20 Night
Ancient Trade Routes VoyageDetails

11 Reviews
Leaving:Singapore
Cruise Line:Azamara
Apr 6, 2024
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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11 Night
Arabia & Dubai VoyageDetails

683 Reviews
Leaving:Dubai
Cruise Line:Azamara
Nov 15, 2022
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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20 Night
Mediterranean CruiseDetails

355 Reviews
Leaving:Dubai
Cruise Line:Oceania Cruises
May 30, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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10 Night
Pacific Northwest CruiseDetails

707 Reviews
Leaving:Abu Dhabi
Cruise Line:Oceania Cruises
Dec 29, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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19 Night
Africa-south AfricaDetails

1,965 Reviews
Leaving:Dubai
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
Dec 2, 2022
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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12 Night
Africa CruiseDetails

320 Reviews
Leaving:Dubai
Cruise Line:Silversea Cruises
Dec 8, 2022
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Cruise Critic Favorite

17 Night
Jewels Of India & ArabiaDetails

119 Reviews
Leaving:Singapore
Cruise Line:Seabourn Cruise Line
Mar 19, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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60 Night
World CruiseDetails

1,246 Reviews
Leaving:Southampton
Cruise Line:Cunard Line
Jan 11, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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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
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 SwaRead More
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Sussex Duo
I liked the looks of this city but I feel I didn’t get a proper sense of it (my own fault).I enjoyed walking through the souk. Probably would hire a professional guide and driver if I went there again.Read More
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davidh68
Had a wonderful taxi driver who took us to all the sites and waited while we took our pictures and did touristy stuff. And for about 1/2 of what the ship charged.Read More
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3630greyfield
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 PalaceRead More
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easyonthegas

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