One of the seven countries of the United Arab Emirates, Dubai has been welcoming passing cruise ships for years, but Costa Cruises put it firmly on the cruise map in 2006, when it based a ship there to sail around the Arabian Gulf.

Since then, the emirate has had mixed fortunes with other companies basing ships there but then pulling out due to unrest in the region at the lime of the Arab Spring. Over the years Costa has also increased and cut capacity.

Now the area is back in favour, with Thomson Cruises the latest to announce it is basing a ship there during in winter 2016-17. Thomson is packaging the cruises with its own flights but there is plenty of seat capacity from the UK also with Emirates and British Airways.

Here are the top ports:



You can’t help but be impressed with Dubai. At 828 metres high the Burj Khalifa is the world’s tallest building – you can take a lift to the 148th floor for a view over the city. Wild Wadi has some wicked water tides and there is even an indoor ski run. There arc souks to shop at, Dhow trips on the creek and beaches to laze on. A float plane ride gives you a bird’s eye view of all there is to see.


This is the capital of the UAE and MSC Cruises’ main embarkation port. The high­rise waterfront is stunning catch it on the sail in. Tours visit the immense Sheikh Zayad Mosque, Ferrari World amusement park on Yas Island and Emirates palace for afternoon tea.


Your day in the capital of Oman offers everything from a tour of the 17th-century Nizwa and Jabrin forts to a dolphin-watch cruise. You can take a jeep trip through the desert or tour the city, visiting the Grand Mosque and souk. and getting a glimpse of the sultan’s Al Alam Palace.

 AJ-Fatih Mosque
AJ-Fatih Mosque


Top sights include the, which can hold up 7,000 worshippers, and the national museum.


In the emirate of Sharjah, this port call is all about sand. You can either lie on it and soak up some sun, or sign up for a 4×4 jeep drive through the desert mountains.


Excursions visit Fon Khasab, built in the 17th century by the Portuguese, and.Jebel Harim, at 2,097 metres the tallest peak on the Musandam Peninsula. Or go swimming and snorkelling on a Dhow cruise to Telegraph Island.