Why go to Abu Dhabi?
Port is conveniently located near the city center's glimmering skyscrapers and luxury resorts
Most nearby beaches are private, with paid membership required, and bars are only found within hotels
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.
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.
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.