Qatar is an innovative country offering plenty for cruise passengers to admire during a 48-hour pre or post stay.
Persian Gulf state Qatar is an extraordinary destination for cruise guests, featuring an abundance of museums, galleries, restaurants, and markets, all begging to be explored on a pre or post package.
There are beautiful beaches, cultural activities, fun-filled watersport experiences, and UNESCO world heritage sites, but what are the top highlights travel agents should focus on?
Beach life in Qatar
With more than 348 miles of coastline, Qatar is an idyllic spot for a beach getaway. Many of these beaches are only a short drive away from Doha city centre, so guests can take advantage of having culture-packed city centres as well as peaceful beaches nearby.
Travel agents should encourage guests to visit one of the most popular, Sealine Beach in Mesaieed. This is particularly suitable for those travelling as a family or in a large group, as they can be sure there is an activity for everyone, from dune bashing to safari tours.
Sealine Beach is in the southern part of Qatar – a 35-minute drive from Doha International Airport and 40 minutes from the city of Doha.
If guests want to experience a truly unique beach, Inland Sea is the place to go. A short drive away from Sealine Beach through mesmerising sand dunes brings guests to this UNESCO-recognised natural reserve, with the option of camping overnight to admire the dazzling stars.
Al Zubarah Fort
No stay in Qatar is complete without a visit to the UNESCO site of Al Zubarah Fort, which is easily accessible by car or taxi.
This 20th-century fort is an impressive example of Arab architecture and has extremely thick walls – in days gone by, such walls helped to ward off invaders; today they help to keep out the heat.
The fort overlooks the ruins of a former pearling and trading town, which was at the centre of tribal battles back in the 18th century.
Today, it acts as a museum where guests can explore intriguing findings from the pearl-diving period. It is also home to mosques, a harbour, a canal and residential palaces, offering numerous places for visitors to explore.
A big plus for those who like to get their feet wet is that Qatar is an ideal location for watersports. With year-round sunny weather and clear blue waters, the country is a watersports lover’s paradise.
Even in the winter, temperatures average out at 26 degrees, meaning guests can take the plunge no matter which season they visit.
There are the flora and fauna-filled natural reserves, best viewed from a kayak, or the sunrise and moonlight trips at the Al Thakira Mangroves, an aspect of Qatar’s natural beauty that’s really worth seeing.
Alternatively, guests can don diving gear and swim in the crystal waters at one of the world’s top pearl-diving areas – the Poseidon Dive Centre. The opportunity to explore boat wrecks and fascinating limestone formations is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Kite surfing, or kite boarding, is also popular in Qatar, and many local tour operators and hotels offer the experience. The thrills continue with the option to parasail up to 100 metres in the air on a parachute tied to a speedboat.
Souq Waqif and National Museum of Qatar
A hub of bustling market stalls welcomes guests to Souq Waqif, a true taste of traditional street life in Qatar.
Travel agents can suggest the unique buying opportunities that this market offers, such as the Souq Waqif art centre, which features an array of authentic work. The Souq is also the perfect place to learn more about Qatar’s time at the heart of the pearl industry.
The National Museum of Qatar takes guests on a visual journey through the country’s history. Exhibitions mix historic objects and contemporary influences, tangibly demonstrating the huge change that Qatar has witnessed over time.
New grand cruise terminal
Qatar’s cruise season runs from October through to April, welcoming season-long cruise line visits from the likes of MSC Cruises and Costa, along with regular calls from Silversea, Seabourn and many more.
At Doha Port, the new Grand Cruise Terminal offers a duty-free shop, cafe and tourist information areas, along with an aquarium and an art gallery, to be open year-round for the public to enjoy.
A smooth disembarkation process enables visitors to set off quickly, accessing Doha city centre and the main attractions in just 15 minutes. It also provides for easy access to experiences beyond Doha.
Visit visitqatar.qa for more information.