The staggering wealth of the oil-rich United Arab Emirates is proudly on display in this tour of architectural marvels that includes the world's tallest building, massive mosques and a sprawling shopping center.
Disembark from the ship and drive directly to Dubai's pristine Jumeirah Beach, an excellent starting point with plenty of nearby landmarks, where you will have the chance to stop for photos. Highlights include the modern Jumeirah Mosque, one of the few mosques that allow non-Muslims to enter, and the iconic Burj Al Arab hotel, both of which are among the most photographed attractions in Dubai.
Continuing on, you will stop briefly at the marina that overlooks the tranquil lagoon, and then explore some of the newest residential districts around Jumeirah Beach. One of the highest profile communities is Palm Jumeirah, the manmade, so-called Eighth Wonder of the World, which is shaped like a palm tree and surrounded by the sea.
Of course, large extravagant homes aren't the only trappings of wealth since oil was discovered in the area in 1966, as you will see at the Dubai Mall, whose more than 1,200 stores make it one of the world's largest malls. Amazingly, it only took four years to build, and today the mall has become the world's most popular shopping and entertainment destination, with more than 65 million people visiting annually.
Still, there is no better place to see burgeoning modern Dubai than from atop the soaring Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building. Standing on its observation deck, you will enjoy a sweeping, 360-degree view of the city, the desert and the sea. There are even special telescopes that provide virtual time-travel visions of the scenes.
Then, following check in at the Raffles Dubai Hotel, you will tour a different side of Dubai, starting with the Al-Basktakia area, which dates to the early 1900s. The narrow lanes and tall wind-towers, known as barajeels, lend a distinct character that harkens back to the days before electricity. More history awaits you in the museum in the 18th-century Al Fahidi Fort, which relates how pearl diving was once a primary industry here. Similarly, you will get a great sense of the past at several open-air souqs or marketplaces for spices and gold.
Finally, you will be treated to a dinner cruise in a traditional Arabic wooden dhow on Dubai Creek before spending the evening at the Raffles Dubai.
Your day begins with a leisurely drive southwest along the coast to Abu Dhabi, the capital city of the United Arab Emirates. Because of the profusion of skyscrapers, Abu Dhabi has been called the "Manhattan of the Gulf." It is also a relatively young city, having been little more than a fishing village until the 1950s.
Now, mega-wealthy due to its oil reserves, bold Abu Dhabi looks almost futuristic. The Grand Mosque is a fine example of the newfound affluence. Finished in 2007 at a cost of $545 million, it is the largest mosque in the United Arab Emirates and can accommodate 40,000 worshippers. Inside the prayer hall lies the world's largest carpet, which weighs 35 tons and sprawls over 60,000 square feet, just over the size of a football field.
In the same extravagant vein, you will see Ferrari World, which is renowned as the world's largest indoor theme park, and the Yas Marina Circuit, a cutting-edge track for Formula One cars.
Abu Dhabi also has a thriving artistic side, best expressed at the beautiful Manarat Saadiyat, which mean "Place of Enlightenment." As an arts and culture center, it has no equal. Located on an island, the center houses a phenomenal collection of art in major galleries and studios with exceptional pieces from the 20th and 21st centuries, much of it from Middle Eastern artists.
After visiting, you will return to the Raffles Dubai for dinner in its sophisticated Fire and Ice restaurant and to spend a delightful evening.
**Note: The Grand Mosque will no longer provide ladies a headscarf or abaya free of charge and there is no shop on sight to buy them. Ladies please come prepared with something to cover you head or entrance will unfortunately be denied. For men and women: no transparent clothing, no shorts or skirts, no sleeveless shirts, no clothing with profanity and no tight clothing (including leggings) or beachwear.
Check out from the hotel is at noon. You will then transfer to Dubai airport according to your departure flight schedule. Luggage storage is available for guests with later flights.
Overland Program Step by Step:
Please note: The order of sites visited may vary to avoid congestion. The times indicated are approximate, given here for general reference purposes, and subject to change.
10:00am Disembark from ship and tour Dubai
1:00pm Burj Khalifa observation deck
3:00pm Arrive at the Raffles Dubai Hotel
5:00pm Old Dubai city tour
8:30pm Dhow dinner cruise
10:30pm Return to the hotel
Overnight at the Raffles Dubai Hotel or similar
Breakfast at the hotel
08:30am Transfer to Abu Dhabi
10:30am Panoramic tour of Abu Dhabi
1:00pm Free time at the Marina Mall
3:15pm Transfer to Yas Island
4:15pm Drive towards Saadiyat Island
4:30pm Visit Manarat Saadiyat
5:15pm Return drive to Dubai
7:15pm Arrive at Raffles Dubai Hotel
8:00pm Dinner at hotel's Fire and Ice restaurant
Overnight at the Raffles Dubai Hotel or similar
Breakfast at hotel
12:00pm Check out from the Raffles Dubai Hotel
Transfer to Dubai airport based on your flight schedule
EXTRA NIGHTS: Should you book any extra nights through the cruise line, you will be transferred to the airport per your departure flight details. Please note that check out time is 12:00nn. Any meals other than breakfast as well as any activities are on your own after the program officially ends on the morning of Day 3.
Expected Weather: Warm and sunny (Average temperature is 26 degrees Celsius /78.8 degrees Fahrenheit)
What to Bring: Summer wear, comfortable shoes, sunglasses and hat.
For the visit of Grand Mosque -
• Modest, conservative, loose fitting clothing, long sleeves, long skirts and trousers
• No transparent (see-through) clothing
• No shorts for men
• No shorts or skirts for ladies
• No tight clothing including leggings, no swimwear and no beachwear.
• Shoes will be removed before entering the mosque, so we recommend slip off shoes
• Headscarf for ladies is essential (these are no longer provided at the mosque – please bring your own)
Currency: UAE Dirham (One U.S. dollar = 3.65 AED)
Electricity: 220 volts
Accommodation: 5-star Raffles Dubai Hotel or similar. We will only source different hotels in unforeseen situations. If similar hotels are required they will be of equal ratings and standards.
Program Includes for guests:
" Two nights accommodation at the Raffles Dubai Hotel or similar on
twin-sharing room basis.
" All transfers in a luxury air-conditioned coach with English-speaking
" Full-day tour of Abu Dhabi in a luxury air-conditioned coach,
including English-speaking tour guide and all entrance fees.
" Full-day tour of Dubai in a luxury air-conditioned coach, including
English-speaking tour guide and all entrance fees.
" Dhow dinner cruise. Includes soft drinks, mineral water, tea or
" Dinner at Fire & Ice restaurant. Includes soft beverages, mineral
water and tea or coffee.
" Entrance fees to the observation deck of the Burj Khalifa
Please Note: Guests booking their own flights (independent of the cruise line) are responsible for ensuring that the cruise line has the most current and updated departure information so your transfer can be arranged. Should you book any additional nights independently of the cruise line, a departure transfer is not provided.
Program Excludes for guests:
" Meals other than specified above
" Alcoholic beverages
" Any tips of a personal nature or portage at the airport and hotel
" All personal expenses such as for laundry, telephone calls and hotel
" Other items not mentioned above
Please note: Land programs that encompass multiple days ashore customarily include extensive and prolonged activity, while those of shorter durations typically have more moderate activity levels. However, each program varies and participants should be prepared to negotiate a mixture of surfaces which may include: inclines, cobblestones, sand, and gravel or natural paths. There may also be a need to climb steps or stairs on occasion. Guests who utilize a wheelchair and those with mobility concerns are advised to check with the cruise line in advance to see if any portion of the tour program may not be considered suitable for their individual situation. Weather appropriate clothing; hats; sunglasses; and flat, comfortable walking shoes are generally recommended.