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Middle East Port to Welcome 50 Percent More Passengers This Season


If you went back in time 15 years, you would have been hard-pressed to find a cruise itinerary—other than a round the world excursion—that focused on ports in the Middle East. Today, cruises regularly call upon the very seat of civilization in Egypt, Israel, Jordan, and, increasingly more often in the United Arab Emirates.

While Dubai and Abu Dhabi, two of the largest cities in the UAE, have been go-to Middle East ports for the past few years, the port of Khor Fakkan is up-and-coming.

The port, which belongs to the emirate of Sharjah but is surrounded by the emirate of Fujairah, is quickly charming cruise lines and passengers alike. This year, the deep water port on the Gulf of Oman on the east coast of the UAE will see a nearly 50 percent increase in cruise passenger arrivals—approximately 130,000 total—for the 2012–2013 season.

Chairman of the Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority recently commented, "During the upcoming season, the Khor Fakkan Port, which hosted 23 luxury cruise liners with more than 67,000 passengers onboard during the 2011–2012 season, will receive two cruise ships a week as opposed to the one weekly call last season." It’s a point of pride for both the tourism department and the local community.

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Costa Cruises was the first mainstream line to introduce Gulf itineraries and a trio of its ships—Atlantica, Classica, and neoRomantica—will bring passengers to Khor Fakkan/Fujairah 37 times this year and next. Seabourn’s Pride and Odyssey will also make a few stops here and it’s rumored that TUI Cruises and Royal Caribbean are both in talks with the Khor Fakkan Port Authority and are likely to visit soon.

Excursions in the area focus on local cultural (the Fujairah Museum for archaeological artifacts and Heritage Village to see how residents lived here throughout the ages) and nature (the rugged mountains for hiking or local beaches with protective coral reefs that offer good snorkeling and diving). Al Badiya, the oldest mosque in the United Arab Emirates is here, and is worth the trip along the pretty coastal road.

How to Hit This Port

Three Costa Cruises Bound for the Middle East:

Costa Atlantica, 7 nights

Departure Dates: December (2012) 14, 21, 28; January (2013) 4, 11, 18, 25; February 1, 8, 15, 22; March 1, 8, 15, 22, 29; April 5, 12

Ports of Call: Dubai, Fujairah, and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates and Muscat and Khasab in Oman

How Much: From $1,839/per person

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Costa Classica, 7 nights

Departure Dates: February (2013) 2, 9, 16, 23; March 2, 9, 16

Ports of Call: Dubai, Fujairah, and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates and Muscat and Khasab in Oman

How Much: From $1,389/per person

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Costa neoRomantica, 21 nights

Departure Dates: October 10, 2012 (reverse itinerary available on February 18, 2013)

Ports of Call: Dubai and Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates; Mumbai and Cochin, India; Male, Maldives; Mahe, Seychelles; Digeo Suarez, Madagascar; Pointe des Galets, Reunion Island; and Port Louis, Mauritius

How Much: From $3,949/per person

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Seabourn Luxury Ships to Visit the Emirate of Sharjah

Seabourn Odyssey, 14 nights

Departure Date: November 26, 2012

Ports of Call: Dubai and Khor al Fakkan, United Arab Emirates; Khasab, Oman; Mumbai, Mangalore, and Cochin, India; Phuket, Thailand; Singapore

How Much: $3,299/per person

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Seabourn Odyssey, 25 nights

Departure Date: March 15, 2013

Ports of Call: Bali, Lembar, Celukan Bawang, Probolinggo (Java), Surabaya, and Semarang (Java) in Indonesia; Singapore; Phuket, Thailand; Cochin, Mangalore, Goa, and Mumbai, India; Khor al Fakkan and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates; Khasab, Oman

How Much: $9,864/per person

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Seabourn Pride, 35 nights

Departure Date: March 13, 2013

Ports of Call: Singapore; Belawan, Sabang, and Pulau Weh in Indonesia; Mangalore, Goa, and Mumbai, India; Sur, Muscat, Khasab, and Salalah in Oman; Khor al Fakkan and Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Safaga, Sharm el Sheik, and Cairo, Egypt; Petra, Jordan; Enter Suez Canal at Suez; Daylight transit Suez Canal; Exit Suez Canal at Port Said; Athens, Greece

How Much: $10,728/per person

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Photo credits: Costa Mediterranea via David Acosta Allely / Shutterstock

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