Middle East and Africa

View the Middle East and Africa Luxury Cruise Collection

Cruise the Middle East and Africa, a diverse region stretching from North Africa to the United Arab Emirates. With glittering cities, history, culture and stunning desert landscapes, a cruise to Dubai or the Red Sea is an unforgettable experience.

Very much a northern European winter destination, Dubai and Abu Dhabi are the hubs of cruising in the Middle East. They are reached from Europe via the Suez Canal through Egypt. At the present time few calls are made at Egyptian ports or at coastal ports on the eastern shores of the Med.

In southern Africa cruises may include islands such as Mozambique or Reunion, and the coastal cities of Capetown or Durban. Reaching the west coast from Europe may involve calls at the Azores or Cape Verde Islands.

Middle East and Africa Port Guide

Abu Dhabi (UAE)
Cruises visiting the capital of the United Arab Emirates usually arrive at Mina Zayed Port, where there are buses to the city three miles away. The beach-side Corniche leads to a new Wakeboarding park offering free lessons and to Heritage Village, a glimpse of traditional life. In Al Bateen Shipyard, visitors can learn the techniques of dhow building. The chief sight in Abu Dhabi is Sheikh Zayed Mosque, a huge white building with 80 domes which accommodates 40,000 people. Trips may be offered to the oasis city of Al Ain, its fort and camel market.
Adabiyah (Egypt)
Adabiyah is an Egyptian port, situated south of Suez and north of the resort of El Sokhna. There is no town attached to the port, which is used as a base for tours to Cairo, the pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx.
Aqaba (Jordan)
Aqaba is Jordan's main port and the country's only town on the Red Sea, reached through the Gulf of Aqaba which is just 24km wide. Aqaba was conquered by Lawrence of Arabia in a dawn raid from across the Wadi Rum desert. Nowadays visitors come to Aqaba for its clear waters, amazing coral and countless exotic fish, and to visit the spectacular rocky city of Petra. Carved from solid rose-red stone, the ancient fortress city of Petra is one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
The Kingdom of Bahrain is spread across an archipelago of 33 islands. The port of Khalifa bin Salman is on the main island close to the capital, Manama which has the futuristic high-rise buildings typical of the oil-rich Middle East. Manama Souq is a traditional structure with colourful stalls and a gold market. One of the key sites in Bahrain is the World Heritage Site of Qal'at Al-Bahrain, an ancient Islamic fort containing the remains of even older cities.
Cairo (Alexandria, Egypt)
Alexandria is the second-largest city in Egypt and its chief port. Although a Middle-eastern city, it has a Mediterranean atmosphere. It was the site of the lighthouse of Pharos, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, which is now the site of Qaitbey Fort. Alexandria is also famous for its library and the Kom el Shokafa Catacombs, large burial grounds three floors deep.
Cairo (Egypt)
Port Said at the head of the Suez Canal is the main gateway for Cairo, a busy and chaotic city of mosques, palaces, bazaars and shops. The Museum of Egyptian Antiquities has over 100,000 relics, including objects from the tomb of Tutankhamun. The market of Khan Al-Khalili, the revolving restaurant in the Cairo Tower and the Mosque of Sultan Hassan are among the city sights, the main highlight being the Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx on the edge of the city.
Cape Town (South Africa)
Cape Town is the capital of the Western Cape. Table Mountain is the spectacular backdrop to the city, and the summit can be reached by Cableway. Cape Town's Victoria and Albert Waterfront is a popular area with shops, entertainment venues and over 80 restaurants. Trips may be offered to Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens and Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned during the apartheid era.
Dubai (UAE)
Cruise ships arrive in Dubai's well-designed and equipped cruise terminal, which has a Business Centre providing free internet access, and a taxi rank. Dubai's dramatic skyline now includes the world's highest skyscraper, the 2717-foot Burj Khalifa. Popular visits in Dubai are its numerous shopping malls, gold and spice souks, the narrow streets of Al-Bastakia and the Creek's cargo-laden dhows, Jumeirah Mosque and 4 x 4 safaris in the desert dunes.
Durban (South Africa)
Durban is the busiest port in South Africa and is a popular tourist resort. It is famous for the Golden Mile, a long stretch of sandy beach ideal for surfers, swimmers and sunbathers, and bordered by uShaja Marine World, hotels and some of Durban's best Art Deco buildings. The city's Sri Sri Radhanath Temple of Understanding is a new and opulent temple which is open to visitors and has an underground restaurant.
Eilat (Israel)
This popular resort is Israel's only Red Sea port, situated on the Gulf of Aqaba. It offers good beaches, nightlife, desert landscapes and scuba diving above pristine coral reefs. Eilat is a VAT free port and the stores in Mall Hayam sells goods at competitive prices. Timna Valley Park has interesting sandstone formations, including King Solomon's Pillars, and at their base is the excavated Shrine of Hathor, a 14BC Egyptian Temple.
Fujairah (UAE)
Al Fujayrah is the most mountainous of the seven Arab Emirates, and benefits from the cooling air of the Gulf of Oman. The main sights in and around the city are the Heritage Village which includes the mud brick Fujairah Fortress and the segregated swimming spas of Ain Al Madhab Gardens, and the 15th-century Al Bidyah Mosque, the oldest in the UAE. Bull Butting contests are a popular tradition in Al Fujayrah and take place every Friday.
Muscat (Oman)
The old harbour of Muscat is flanked by the twin forts of Al-Jalali and Al-Mirani, and beside the port is the elaborate Al-Alam Palace and gardens, the home of Sultan Qaboos. Muscat's wealth was built on the trading of mother of pearl, frankincense and fish, which can all be bought in the city's souks. The main sight in Muscat is the magnificent Grand Mosque, completed in 2001. Its spacious interior is lined with marble and hung with crystal chandeliers. Tours by 4x4 into the desert wadis may be offered.
Port Elizabeth (South Africa)
Port Elizabeth is a green city with a number of parks and gardens, including the large and wildlife-rich Settler's Park. The Donkin Trail is a good way to see the city's sites, taking in the market Square and grand City Hall, the gothic library and old settler cottages. Beyond the city is the Big Five game reserve of Shamwari and Addo Elephant Park, where Cape Buffalo can also be seen.
Port Said (Egypt)
Port Said sits at the Mediterranean entrance to the Suez Canal on the north coast of Egypt and is the starting point for excursions to Cairo, the Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx.
Richards Bay (South Africa)
This industrial port in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, is the gateway to Zululand, the dunes, swamp, forests and wildlife of St Lucia Wetlands - hippos and crocodiles, pelicans, storks and flamingoes - and Hluhluwe Umfolosi Game Reserve. Other trips may be offered to the Shakaland Experience, a recreation of a Zulu homestead. Richards Bay has a new waterfront shopping mall, the Boardwalk.
Safaga (Egypt)
Safaga attracts tourists from all over the world to its wide bay with splendid turquoise waters and long beaches. It is a favourite Red Sea resort for windsurfers - the World Championships were held here in 1993 - and for scuba diving experts and enthusiasts, with an incredible variety of underwater life. Safaga is the starting point for excursions to the famed Egyptian ruins of the Temple of Luxor and the Valley of the Kings where Egyptian rulers were buried.
Salalah (Oman)
Salalah has a temperate climate and lush vegetation and is well-known for its frankincense trees, which are used to extract rubber resign for incense products. There are the ruins of a palace in Salalah which is said to have belonged to the Queen of Sheba, and on the peak of Ittin are the remains of the tomb of the prophet Job.
Sharm-el-Sheikh (Egypt)
This lively beach resort on the Sinai Peninsula has therapeutic thermal springs, palm-fringed beaches and a wide variety of shops. The island of Tiran is a popular visit for diving and snorkelling. A day's excursion from here is St Catherine's Monastery. the walled enclave in the shadow of Mount Sinai, built on the site of the burning bush which appeared to Moses.
Suez Canal (Egypt)
Opened in 1869, the Suez Canal took 10 years to build, and after several extensions is now 120 miles long, running at sea level for its entire length with no locks. It runs between Port Said in the Mediterranean and the Gulf of Suez in the Red Sea, and allows shipping to avoid the long journey around Africa and the Cape, connecting Europe to the Indian and Pacific Oceans.
Takoradi (Ghana)
Takoradi and its twin city Sekondi form the capital of western Ghana, and originally grew up around 17th-century Dutch and English forts. In December 2010, oil production began in Takoradi, which up until now has been a quiet and relatively undeveloped town alongside an important deep sea port. Possible visits from Takoradi are Ankasa Game Reserve and Kakum National Park, a large area of virgin rainforest and the habitat of forest elephants, many species of butterflies, leopard, red river hogs and primates.
Walvis Bay (Namibia)
This Namibian town is famous for the nearby sand dunes, the largest being Dune 7 offering wide-ranging views of the coast. Offshore is a large platform built to collect guano, now a major export, and an unusual and popular restaurant built on a raft. The area around Walvis Bay is an important wetland, a habitat for flamingos and the Damara tern. Trips may be offered to the Namib Desert, the Skeleton Coast - an inhospitable and arid terrain fronted by pounding surf and over a thousand shipwrecks - Swakopmund, Pelican Point seal colony and Sandwich Harbour.