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Cruises to Abu Dhabi

137 Reviews
Abu Dhabi (Photo:ventdusud/Shutterstock)

About Abu Dhabi

The capital of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi is the largest and wealthiest of the nation's seven emirates. Covering 80 percent of the land mass of the UAE, the emirate of Abu Dhabi is divided into three parts: the city of Abu Dhabi, the historic Al Ain region centered on a large oasis on an old camel caravan route and Al Gharbia, part of the world's largest uninterrupted sand desert with towering dunes spreading across the Arabian Peninsula.

The cruise port lies in the central city of Abu Dhabi, a rapidly growing cosmopolitan metropolis where glittering skyscrapers pierce the sky and five-star resorts spread across natural islands where you'll find golf courses, beaches, marinas, upscale malls, a Formula One race car track, amusement areas and cultural institutions. 

Compared with Dubai, the nation's playground and largest city 90 minutes to the north, Abu Dhabi is more family oriented and, with a population consisting of a higher number of native Emiratis, more traditional in its values. The head of the ruling family of Abu Dhabi is also president of the UAE, and the city is the seat of the national government and a financial center. 

Abu Dhabi's extreme wealth stems from oil, discovered in 1958. The UAE was formed in 1971 when the head of Abu Dhabi's ruling family, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, persuaded his fellow emirs to form the union and became its first president. Transformation has been swift. Abu Dhabi put its oil money into the development of a modern infrastructure, health care, education, arts and culture. Abu Dhabi grew into a modern, Westernized civilization in a little more than a generation, evolving from a society of fishing villages along the coast and Bedouins living a nomadic life in the desert. Still, you'll find it preserves its Arabian traditions and Bedouin hospitality. It is diversifying its stake in oil by developing other industries, including tourism, and is warm and welcoming to visitors. 

Abu Dhabi's culture is rooted in Islam, but all faiths are respected and protected by the constitution. The dress code is liberal, and Western wear is common, though native Emiratis often choose to wear their national dress.

--By Claire Volkman, Cruise Critic contributor

  • More about Abu Dhabi

  • Why go to Abu Dhabi?

  • Abu Dhabi Cruise Port Facilities?

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Norwegian Dawn
Norwegian Dawn

19 Night
Asia - Middle EastDetails

2,912 Reviews
Leaving:Istanbul
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
Nov 24, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Zuiderdam
Zuiderdam

128 Night
128-day Grand World VoyageDetails

1,011 Reviews
Cruise Line:Holland America Line
Jan 3, 2024
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Riviera
Riviera

10 Night
Middle East CruiseDetails

717 Reviews
Leaving:Dubai
Cruise Line:Oceania Cruises
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Norwegian Jade
Norwegian Jade

18 Night
Europe - Med Egypt & Greek IslesDetails

1,976 Reviews
Leaving:Dubai
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
Feb 13, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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20 Night
Africa CruiseDetails

378 Reviews
Leaving:Dubai
Cruise Line:Regent Seven Seas Cruises
Apr 16, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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9 Night
Africa CruiseDetails

335 Reviews
Leaving:Dubai
Cruise Line:Silversea Cruises
Nov 16, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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9 Night
Asia - Middle EastDetails

2,912 Reviews
Leaving:Dubai
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
Dec 13, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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43 Night
World CruiseDetails

717 Reviews
Leaving:Singapore
Cruise Line:Oceania Cruises
Apr 28, 2024
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Cruise Critic Favorite

74 Night
World CruiseDetails

556 Reviews
Cruise Line:Cunard Line
Feb 7, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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14 Night
Suez Canal CruiseDetails

666 Reviews
Leaving:Rome
Cruise Line:Celebrity Cruises
Oct 30, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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52 Night
World CruiseDetails

1,189 Reviews
Leaving:Los Angeles
Cruise Line:Princess Cruises
Jan 18, 2024
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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7 Night
Middle East CruiseDetails

2 Reviews
Leaving:Dubai
Cruise Line:MSC Cruises
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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10 Night
Sparkling Sands & Cities Of The Persian Gulf 10d M...Details

122 Reviews
Leaving:Muscat
Cruise Line:Windstar Cruises
Feb 1, 2024
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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33 Night
Mediterranean CruiseDetails

335 Reviews
Leaving:Dubai
Cruise Line:Silversea Cruises
Nov 25, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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10 Night
Sparkling Sands & Cities Of The Persian Gulf 10d...Details

122 Reviews
Leaving:Dubai
Cruise Line:Windstar Cruises
Feb 11, 2024
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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More about Abu Dhabi

Why go to Abu Dhabi?

Pros:

Port is conveniently located near the city center's glimmering skyscrapers and luxury resorts

Cons:

Most nearby beaches are private, with paid membership required, and bars are only found within hotels

Bottom Line:

A modern hub that has retained its Bedouin culture with colorful souks, mosques and museums

Abu Dhabi Cruise Port Facilities?

The Zayed cruise port terminal, which is almost brand-new, offers a few souvenir shops and restaurants if you find yourself stuck there in between excursions. There are shops selling hand-knit scarves, trinkets (many of which aren't made in the UAE) and small coffee shops selling savory and sweet dates and the infamous Arabian tea.

The terminal also offers a check-in counter for Etihad Airways, currency exchange, ATMs, a free shopping shuttle service, a kids play area and complimentary Wi-Fi.

Located right on the Persian Gulf, Abu Dhabi is one of the easiest cities to explore while in port. Zayed Port, the main cruise ship docking point, allows for super easy exploration. Both the Big Bus and taxis are lined up all day -- which transport guests to and from Abu Dhabi's biggest and most popular sights.

Good to Know?

Abu Dhabi is one of the safest places to travel for just about anyone, from solo female travelers to families and couples. However, there are things to note if you're a female -- you need to wear clothing that covers your shoulders and your legs (from the knees) when you're out in public. Although you're still able to walk around comfortably if you don't, its respectful to dress appropriately, according to local customs, in shopping malls, hotels, resorts and in the city. You do, though, need to make sure you're fully covered at the Sheik Zayed Mosque -- as they won't let you in otherwise. If you're dining out or going to beach clubs or nightclubs, it's recommended to cover your shoulders to and from the venue. To make sure you're always prepared, keep a pashmina or a sweater with you at all times. It's a good idea to keep a shawl with you at all times, as it can be cold in many air-conditioned venues. It's also important to note that PDA (or public displays of affection) are not welcomed or permitted in Abu Dhabi.

Getting Around?

On Foot: Abu Dhabi is not a walkable city and it's designed for driving. With most attractions away from the city center (like Yas Island and the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque), it's impossible to get around without a car hire, taxi or a Big Bus ticket. However, if you're downtown, you can walk to explore the towering skyscrapers and shops that are clustered in the center.

By Bus: Always parked outside of the Zayed cruise terminal is the Big Bus, an international brand that is known the world over for transporting passengers around cities. The price is reasonable and will take you to and from some of Abu Dhabi's most popular landmarks, like the Sheikh Zayed Mosque, through Yas Island or around the downtown area. It's a little touristy, but riding on the upper level will give you epic views of the city as you drive around (make sure you bring your camera!) Plus, you can choose from two routes -- the city route or the one that takes you around Yas Island.

By Taxi: Taxis tend to be inexpensive and you can find them almost everywhere in Abu Dhabi, especially around the major landmarks. If you don't have time to wait on the Big Bus, taxis are often waiting outside of the port to take you to and from the city's biggest landmarks. With vast distances between some landmarks, be wary of costs escalating, though, and always get into a cab with a clear approximation of how much the ride will cost you. Also, only get into registered taxis (you'll see their license, photo and a number to call on the back of their seats).

Currency & Best Way to Get Money?

Abu Dhabi and Dubai use the same currency -- the dirham. Whether in the terminal or around town, there are ample banks and ATMs that can exchange foreign currency into dirhams, or can dispense the local currency. For up-to-date currency exchange rates, check www.xe.com.

Language?

Like all of the Middle East, the primary language of Abu Dhabi is Arabic. However, because the city is so multicultural and has a huge expat community, nearly everyone -- from taxi drivers to restaurant owners to shop purveyors ---speaks at least basic English. In addition, almost every single tour operator will provide English speakers with an English guide.


Abu Dhabi Cruise Reviews
Abu Dhabi has so much to offer. We particularly enjoyed the Heritage Souks, with artisans who demonstrated techniques for weaving, beating copper, making weapons, making men's and women's cloaks, and boat-making. AbuRead More
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Intlxpatr
Plenty to do in Abu DhabiRead More
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evertonian12
Walked along the sea front to the palace and then taxi to the mal and back to the ship.Read More
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k,m,d&m
Absolutely astounding! Beautiful architecture, pristine cleanliness - even vehicles are required to be kept clean! No graffiti, no begging, no homelessness! Guide had extensive knowledge on Dubai and UAE in general. Read More
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catahoochie

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