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Cruises to Sir Bani Yas Island

Sir Bani Yas (Photo: Cristian Andriana/Shutterstock.com)

About Sir Bani Yas Island

A green oasis on a desert island in the Arabian Gulf, Sir Bani Yas Island -- about 150 miles west of Abu Dhabi -- is the site of the only private beach resort for cruise ships in the region. It provides a welcome alternative to the shopping malls, grand mosques, theme parks and dune bashing at the heart of excursion programs in the Gulf's other ports of call.

Natural geological forces created the salt dome island millions of years ago, and its name originates from the Bani Yas tribe who first inhabited Abu Dhabi. A ruined Nestorian Christian monastery dating from 600 A.D. is the oldest of 42 archaeological sites on the island.

Sheikh Zayed, the late ruler of Abu Dhabi and founder of the United Arab Emirates, established a nature reserve on the island in 1971 and began work that has involved the planting of several million trees and the introduction of species including giraffe, cheetah, hyena, ostrich and oryx. It's not quite a self-contained ecosystem -- some 73,000 miles of pipeline water the trees, while feed is left out for the animals, although the cheetahs hunt the gazelle, nonetheless.

The 16-square-mile Arabian Wildlife Park occupies about half of the island and now contains more than 10,000 breeding animals and 170 species of bird, including peacocks and flamingoes.

MSC Cruises was closely involved with the Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority in the creation and construction of the facilities on an island that houses a wildlife park for a collection of endemic Arabian species. The only other visitor facilities on the island are three luxury resort hotels, operated by Thai group Anantara, and a small airstrip.

The beach resort was built on an artificial spit of sand connected to the main island by a short causeway across the lagoon. It houses the only facilities -- apart from shore excursions -- for visiting cruisers. There are about 2,000 sun loungers and plenty of shade.

The main season for cruises in the Gulf runs from November to March. Cruise lines visiting Sir Bani Yas include MSC, Costa, P&O Cruises, Celebrity Cruises and occasionally, Seabourn. There is never more than one ship per day at the resort -- which is definitely a bonus for most visitors.

--updated by Sue Bryant, Cruise Critic contributor


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  • 7 Night
    Cruise to Sir Bani Yas Island

    Leaving:
    Dubai
    Visiting:
    Dubai, Abu Dhabi ... see more
    Cruise Line:
    Royal Caribbean International
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    7 Night Cruise to Sir Bani Yas Island  Route (Royal Caribbean International)
    • Day 1
      Dubai
    • Day 2
      Dubai
    • Day 3
      Abu Dhabi
    • Day 4
      Sir Bani Yas Island
    • Day 5
      Cruising
    • Day 6
      Muscat
    • Day 7
      Dubai
    • Day 8
      Dubai
    Ship Details

    Jewel of the Seas - Royal Caribbean International

    Pros

    Few gimmicks, great service, rarely raucous

    Cons

    Costly extras, unimaginative entertainment

    Bottom line

    Uncomplicated classic cruising with all the traditional trimmings

    Reviews

    Jewel of the Seas Reviews

    Cruise Critic Editor Ratings
    Overall
    3.5/5
    Cabins3.0
    Dining3.0
    Service5.0
    Value3.0

    Jewel of the Seas made its debut in spring 2004. Measuring 90,090 tons and carrying 2,100-plus ...

    Cruise Critic Member Ratings
    Janda7
    Sail Date Jan 2020
    A lovely jewel !
    Read More
    Very Critical
    Sail Date Feb 2020
    QUITE SHOCKED
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    What’s included in My Cruise Fare?

    • Cabin
      Room with bed and private bathroom
    • Port Taxes & Fees
    • Service Gratuities
    • Most Onboard Entertainment
    • Kids Club
    • Shore Excursions
    • Wi-Fi
    • Spa Services
    • Select Dining
      Main dining room and/or buffet
    • Specialty Alternative Dining
    • Room Service
    • Butler Service
    • Basic Drinks
      Still water, coffee, and tea
    • Soft Drinks
      Soda and Juice
    • Alcohol
      Beer, wine, and spirits
    • Specialty Coffee Drinks
      Including smoothies and blended drinks
    • Specialty Fitness Classes

    ** inclusions in your cruise fare are based on Cruise Critic’s editorial expertise and not provided by the individual cruise lines. When you book with one of our cruise partners, please be sure to check their site for a full disclosure of all applicable fees. Cruise Critic does not guarantee any specific rates, prices, or amenities included in the fare. Inclusion items in the fare may change at any time and fees may apply for additional items.

  • 10 Night
    Cruise to Sir Bani Yas Island

    Leaving:
    Dubai
    Visiting:
    Dubai, Khasab ... see more
    Cruise Line:
    Oceania Cruises
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    10 Night Cruise to Sir Bani Yas Island  Route (Oceania Cruises)
    • Day 1
      Dubai
    • Day 2
      Dubai
    • Day 3
      Khasab
    • Day 4
      Fujairah
    • Day 5
      Muscat
    • Day 6
      Cruising (Gulf of Oman)
    • Day 7
      Manama
    • Day 8
      Doha
    • Day 9
      Sir Bani Yas Island
    • Day 10
      Abu Dhabi
    • Day 11
      Dubai
    Ship Details

    Sirena - Oceania Cruises

    Pros

    Cozy, small ship with excellent cuisine

    Cons

    Standard cabins are small; weak enrichment program

    Bottom Line

    Port-intensive itineraries in an upmarket setting

    Reviews
    Cruise Critic Editor Ratings
    Overall
    4.5/5
    Cabins4.0
    Dining5.0
    Service4.5
    Value4.0

    Sirena, which debuted in April 2016, is the fourth of defunct Renaissance Cruises' R-class vess...

    Cruise Critic Member Ratings
    garyg2000
    Sail Date Feb 2020
    Disappointed with food, entertainment, Activities
    Read More
    happybaby
    Sail Date Jan 2020
    Very disappointing cruise and management.
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    What’s included in My Cruise Fare?

    • Cabin
      Room with bed and private bathroom
    • Port Taxes & Fees
    • Service Gratuities
    • Most Onboard Entertainment
    • Kids Club
    • Shore Excursions
    • Wi-Fi
    • Spa Services
    • Select Dining
      Main dining room and/or buffet
    • Specialty Alternative Dining
    • Room Service
    • Butler Service
    • Basic Drinks
      Still water, coffee, and tea
    • Soft Drinks
      Soda and Juice
    • Alcohol
      Beer, wine, and spirits
    • Specialty Coffee Drinks
      Including smoothies and blended drinks
    • Specialty Fitness Classes

    ** inclusions in your cruise fare are based on Cruise Critic’s editorial expertise and not provided by the individual cruise lines. When you book with one of our cruise partners, please be sure to check their site for a full disclosure of all applicable fees. Cruise Critic does not guarantee any specific rates, prices, or amenities included in the fare. Inclusion items in the fare may change at any time and fees may apply for additional items.

  • 7 Night
    Cruise to Sir Bani Yas Island

    Leaving:
    Dubai
    Visiting:
    Sir Bani Yas Island , Doha ... see more
    Cruise Line:
    Royal Caribbean International
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    7 Night Cruise to Sir Bani Yas Island  Route (Royal Caribbean International)
    • Day 1
      Dubai
    • Day 2
      Sir Bani Yas Island
    • Day 3
      Doha
    • Day 4
      Cruising
    • Day 5
      Abu Dhabi
    • Day 6
      Abu Dhabi
    • Day 7
      Dubai
    • Day 8
      Dubai
    Ship Details

    Jewel of the Seas - Royal Caribbean International

    Pros

    Few gimmicks, great service, rarely raucous

    Cons

    Costly extras, unimaginative entertainment

    Bottom line

    Uncomplicated classic cruising with all the traditional trimmings

    Reviews

    Jewel of the Seas Reviews

    Cruise Critic Editor Ratings
    Overall
    3.5/5
    Cabins3.0
    Dining3.0
    Service5.0
    Value3.0

    Jewel of the Seas made its debut in spring 2004. Measuring 90,090 tons and carrying 2,100-plus ...

    Cruise Critic Member Ratings
    gettinold
    Sail Date Jan 2020
    What no lobster ?
    Read More
    NightWoman
    Sail Date Dec 2019
    Reasonable Cruise
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    What’s included in My Cruise Fare?

    • Cabin
      Room with bed and private bathroom
    • Port Taxes & Fees
    • Service Gratuities
    • Most Onboard Entertainment
    • Kids Club
    • Shore Excursions
    • Wi-Fi
    • Spa Services
    • Select Dining
      Main dining room and/or buffet
    • Specialty Alternative Dining
    • Room Service
    • Butler Service
    • Basic Drinks
      Still water, coffee, and tea
    • Soft Drinks
      Soda and Juice
    • Alcohol
      Beer, wine, and spirits
    • Specialty Coffee Drinks
      Including smoothies and blended drinks
    • Specialty Fitness Classes

    ** inclusions in your cruise fare are based on Cruise Critic’s editorial expertise and not provided by the individual cruise lines. When you book with one of our cruise partners, please be sure to check their site for a full disclosure of all applicable fees. Cruise Critic does not guarantee any specific rates, prices, or amenities included in the fare. Inclusion items in the fare may change at any time and fees may apply for additional items.

  • 7 Night
    Cruise to Sir Bani Yas Island

    Leaving:
    Dubai
    Visiting:
    Sir Bani Yas Island , Doha ... see more
    Cruise Line:
    Royal Caribbean International
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    Cruise Itinerary

    7 Night Cruise to Sir Bani Yas Island  Route (Royal Caribbean International)
    • Day 1
      Dubai
    • Day 2
      Sir Bani Yas Island
    • Day 3
      Cruising
    • Day 4
      Doha
    • Day 5
      Doha
    • Day 6
      Abu Dhabi
    • Day 7
      Dubai
    • Day 8
      Dubai
    Ship Details

    Jewel of the Seas - Royal Caribbean International

    Pros

    Few gimmicks, great service, rarely raucous

    Cons

    Costly extras, unimaginative entertainment

    Bottom line

    Uncomplicated classic cruising with all the traditional trimmings

    Reviews

    Jewel of the Seas Reviews

    Cruise Critic Editor Ratings
    Overall
    3.5/5
    Cabins3.0
    Dining3.0
    Service5.0
    Value3.0

    Jewel of the Seas made its debut in spring 2004. Measuring 90,090 tons and carrying 2,100-plus ...

    Cruise Critic Member Ratings
    georgygirl65
    Sail Date Dec 2019
    Disappointment with the ship
    Read More
    ltaberner7
    Sail Date Dec 2019
    Enjoyable but room for improvement
    Read More
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    Fare Includes

    What’s included in My Cruise Fare?

    • Cabin
      Room with bed and private bathroom
    • Port Taxes & Fees
    • Service Gratuities
    • Most Onboard Entertainment
    • Kids Club
    • Shore Excursions
    • Wi-Fi
    • Spa Services
    • Select Dining
      Main dining room and/or buffet
    • Specialty Alternative Dining
    • Room Service
    • Butler Service
    • Basic Drinks
      Still water, coffee, and tea
    • Soft Drinks
      Soda and Juice
    • Alcohol
      Beer, wine, and spirits
    • Specialty Coffee Drinks
      Including smoothies and blended drinks
    • Specialty Fitness Classes

    ** inclusions in your cruise fare are based on Cruise Critic’s editorial expertise and not provided by the individual cruise lines. When you book with one of our cruise partners, please be sure to check their site for a full disclosure of all applicable fees. Cruise Critic does not guarantee any specific rates, prices, or amenities included in the fare. Inclusion items in the fare may change at any time and fees may apply for additional items.

  • 7 Night
    Cruise to Sir Bani Yas Island

    Leaving:
    Dubai
    Visiting:
    Abu Dhabi, Sir Bani Yas Island ... see more
    Cruise Line:
    MSC Cruises
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    7 Night Cruise to Sir Bani Yas Island  Route (MSC Cruises)
    • Day 1
      Dubai
    • Day 2
      Abu Dhabi
    • Day 3
      Sir Bani Yas Island
    • Day 4
      Cruising
    • Day 5
      Muscat
    • Day 6
      Khasab
    • Day 7
      Dubai
    • Day 8
      Dubai
    Ship Details

    MSC Bellissima - MSC Cruises

    Pros

    Outstanding entertainment, huge kids club, two new Cirque at Sea productions, excellent for-fee dining options

    Cons

    Quiet and relaxing spaces are hard to find anywhere

    Bottom Line

    Big, fun, family-friendly ship with lots to keep the kids and adults entertained

    Reviews

    MSC Bellissima Reviews

    Cruise Critic Editor Ratings
    Overall
    5.0/5
    Cabins5.0
    Dining4.5
    Service4.5
    Value4.0

    MSC Bellissima is a big, bold, boisterous ship with a lot going on morning, noon and night. And...

    Cruise Critic Member Ratings
    Chukigek
    Sail Date Jan 2020
    MSC Bellissima cruise tips
    Read More
    The Bone
    Sail Date Feb 2020
    Disappointed on So Many Levels
    Read More
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    Fare Includes

    What’s included in My Cruise Fare?

    • Cabin
      Room with bed and private bathroom
    • Port Taxes & Fees
    • Service Gratuities
    • Most Onboard Entertainment
    • Kids Club
    • Shore Excursions
    • Wi-Fi
    • Spa Services
    • Select Dining
      Main dining room and/or buffet
    • Specialty Alternative Dining
    • Room Service
    • Butler Service
    • Basic Drinks
      Still water, coffee, and tea
    • Soft Drinks
      Soda and Juice
    • Alcohol
      Beer, wine, and spirits
    • Specialty Coffee Drinks
      Including smoothies and blended drinks
    • Specialty Fitness Classes

    ** inclusions in your cruise fare are based on Cruise Critic’s editorial expertise and not provided by the individual cruise lines. When you book with one of our cruise partners, please be sure to check their site for a full disclosure of all applicable fees. Cruise Critic does not guarantee any specific rates, prices, or amenities included in the fare. Inclusion items in the fare may change at any time and fees may apply for additional items.

  • 11 Night
    Cruise to Sir Bani Yas Island

    Leaving:
    Dubai
    Visiting:
    Muscat, Manama ... see more
    Cruise Line:
    Azamara
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    Cruise Itinerary

    11 Night Cruise to Sir Bani Yas Island  Route (Azamara)
    • Day 1
      Dubai
    • Day 2
      Cruising
    • Day 3
      Muscat
    • Day 4
      Muscat
    • Day 5
      Cruising
    • Day 6
      Manama
    • Day 7
      Doha
    • Day 8
      Sir Bani Yas Island
    • Day 9
      Abu Dhabi
    • Day 10
      Abu Dhabi
    • Day 11
      Dubai
    • Day 12
      Dubai
    Ship Details

    Azamara Quest - Azamara

    Pros

    Destination-focused itineraries; friendly and fun onboard vibe

    Cons

    Standard cabins are small with tiny bathrooms, despite a high price tag

    Bottom Line

    Destination-immersive, upscale cruising, with not a lot of nickel and diming

    Reviews

    Azamara Quest Reviews

    Cruise Critic Editor Ratings
    Overall
    4.5/5
    Cabins3.5
    Dining4.5
    Service5.0
    Value3.5

    Editor's Note: A March 2019 dry dock saw the ship's casino converted into ...

    Cruise Critic Member Ratings
    aussie travel bird
    Sail Date Dec 2019
    Another top cruise - Maiden South Africa Cruise
    Read More
    hibees43
    Sail Date Dec 2019
    Far Too Many Weaknesses
    Read More
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    Fare Includes

    What’s included in My Cruise Fare?

    • Cabin
      Room with bed and private bathroom
    • Port Taxes & Fees
    • Service Gratuities
    • Most Onboard Entertainment
    • Kids Club
    • Shore Excursions
    • Wi-Fi
    • Spa Services
    • Select Dining
      Main dining room and/or buffet
    • Specialty Alternative Dining
    • Room Service
    • Butler Service
    • Basic Drinks
      Still water, coffee, and tea
    • Soft Drinks
      Soda and Juice
    • Alcohol
      Beer, wine, and spirits
    • Specialty Coffee Drinks
      Including smoothies and blended drinks
    • Specialty Fitness Classes

    ** inclusions in your cruise fare are based on Cruise Critic’s editorial expertise and not provided by the individual cruise lines. When you book with one of our cruise partners, please be sure to check their site for a full disclosure of all applicable fees. Cruise Critic does not guarantee any specific rates, prices, or amenities included in the fare. Inclusion items in the fare may change at any time and fees may apply for additional items.

  • 10 Night
    Cruise to Sir Bani Yas Island

    Leaving:
    Dubai
    Visiting:
    Muscat, Manama ... see more
    Cruise Line:
    Azamara
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    Cruise Itinerary

    10 Night Cruise to Sir Bani Yas Island  Route (Azamara)
    • Day 1
      Dubai
    • Day 2
      Cruising
    • Day 3
      Muscat
    • Day 4
      Muscat
    • Day 5
      Cruising
    • Day 6
      Manama
    • Day 7
      Doha
    • Day 8
      Sir Bani Yas Island
    • Day 9
      Abu Dhabi
    • Day 10
      Dubai
    • Day 11
      Dubai
    Ship Details

    Azamara Pursuit - Azamara

    Pros

    ** Comfortable home base for exploring unique itineraries, with warm and accommodating service

    Cons

    ** Most cabins, especially the bathrooms, are small and feel tight

    Bottom Line

    ** Pursuit is perfectly sized to sail into more remote ports; onboard atmosphere is quiet and congenial

    Reviews

    Azamara Pursuit Reviews

    Cruise Critic Editor Ratings
    Overall
    4.0/5
    Cabins4.0
    Dining4.0

    In August 2018, Azamara Club Cruises expanded its two-ship fleet with the addition of Azamara Purs...

    Cruise Critic Member Ratings
    ImaFrugalCruiser
    Sail Date Dec 2019
    Excellent Food and Service on a Great Ship
    Read More
    Findingflow
    Sail Date Dec 2019
    Azamara's Superior Guest Service
    Read More
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    Fare Includes

    What’s included in My Cruise Fare?

    • Cabin
      Room with bed and private bathroom
    • Port Taxes & Fees
    • Service Gratuities
    • Most Onboard Entertainment
    • Kids Club
    • Shore Excursions
    • Wi-Fi
    • Spa Services
    • Select Dining
      Main dining room and/or buffet
    • Specialty Alternative Dining
    • Room Service
    • Butler Service
    • Basic Drinks
      Still water, coffee, and tea
    • Soft Drinks
      Soda and Juice
    • Alcohol
      Beer, wine, and spirits
    • Specialty Coffee Drinks
      Including smoothies and blended drinks
    • Specialty Fitness Classes

    ** inclusions in your cruise fare are based on Cruise Critic’s editorial expertise and not provided by the individual cruise lines. When you book with one of our cruise partners, please be sure to check their site for a full disclosure of all applicable fees. Cruise Critic does not guarantee any specific rates, prices, or amenities included in the fare. Inclusion items in the fare may change at any time and fees may apply for additional items.

  • 7 Night
    Cruise to Sir Bani Yas Island

    Leaving:
    Dubai
    Visiting:
    Dubai, Abu Dhabi ... see more
    Cruise Line:
    MSC Cruises
    View Deal
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    Itinerary

    Cruise Itinerary

    7 Night Cruise to Sir Bani Yas Island  Route (MSC Cruises)
    • Day 1
      Dubai
    • Day 2
      Dubai
    • Day 3
      Abu Dhabi
    • Day 4
      Sir Bani Yas Island
    • Day 5
      Cruising
    • Day 6
      Muscat
    • Day 7
      Dubai
    • Day 8
      Dubai
    Ship Details

    MSC Lirica - MSC Cruises

    Marketed to North Americans as well as Europeans

    MSC's first-ever new-build

    Offers a nice variety of Caribbean sailings

    Reviews

    MSC Lirica Reviews

    Cruise Critic Editor Ratings
    Overall
    3.0/5
    Cabins3.0
    Dining3.0
    Service4.0
    Value4.0

    The 1,976-passenger MSC Lirica is one of four medium-sized Mistral-class ships, dating from 200...

    Cruise Critic Member Ratings
    ColoradoSkiier5
    Sail Date Dec 2019
    Good Itinerary, Great Staff, Blah Food
    Read More
    allison1952