Dubai to Mumbai
10 days with Silversea Rating:
Day 1 Dubai
Departure 11:00 pm
Dubai sits on a golden sandy coastline in the Arabian Gulf, where the warm azure waves of the sea meet the desert. A high-rise oasis, this city is a pleasure-dome surrounded by dunes; one of the most fashionable on the planet thanks to its ability to satisfy the needs of legions of demanding vacationers. Dubai is about having fun—and it's one big adult playground. Nature plays her part here, with year-round sunshine, gorgeous beaches, dramatic arid landscapes, and warm waters, but it's the man-made attractions that make Dubai so alluring. You can launch yourself into high-adrenaline desert adventures, diving and water sports, and some of the world's best golf courses. The 5-, 6-, and 7-star hotels offer the ultimate in luxury, and the party scene is hot. Shopping malls are the biggest in the world and are packed full of high-class merchandise. And with hundreds of restaurants with cuisine from around the world, you can munch your way from Mexico to Malaysia. Dubai is an Arab country with a long history as a trading port. Traces of its traditional life, customs, and architecture can still be seen and explored, but today and tomorrow are much more important than yesterday. Almost every building in this metropolis is less than 20 years old and the most dramatic developments—groundbreaking megaprojects—have just been completed or are still under construction. The city is certainly unique. Islam is its anchor, but it has opened its doors to the rest of the world and has invited them in to work, rest, and play, which creates a truly international atmosphere. Unashamedly modern and materialistic, life here takes place at breakneck speed. The landscape is stark, the confidence is sky high, the can-do spirit is palpable, and the blingis in your face. Dubai produces strong reactions in people, but one thing is certain—love it or loathe it—you will not forget it. It is without a doubt, one of the world's true must-see destinations. Shisha: Smoke Without Fire. Emirati men love socializing, but as they don't drink alcohol they get together over coffee and shisha instead of a drink at the bar after work. The shisha, or hookah, is a smoking device, usually made of glass, that filters smoke through water before it reaches the smoker's mouth. Shisha tobaccos are aromatic and are often mixed with apple, cinnamon, or cherry, so their taste isn't as strong as other tobaccos. Smoking shisha is said to induce relaxation—but you'll have to decide if it's for you! Several distinct zones and quarters, each with its own purpose and atmosphere, make up the city of Dubai. The older districts around the mouth of Dubai Creek—Deira, Al-Rigga, and Bur Dubai—have developed over the last 150 years into a maze of narrow streets and alleyways that are often choked with traffic. However, the museums and attractions here are clustered close together, making this area the most walkable in the city. You'll need to cross the creek on the abra (boat) service, about seven or eight minutes long, to get from one bank to the other. To venture beyond this downtown core you'll need to take transportation. If you have time, buses are very cheap, new, and air-conditioned, and their routes pass by many major attractions. However, taxis are efficient, inexpensive, and metered, making them a more flexible option if you're only in Dubai for a short time and every minute counts. Sheikh Zayed Road is the multilane road that links old Dubai with the newer Dubai districts to the south—about 15 mi to the southernmost communities. It runs 3 mi inland from the ocean and parallel with the coastline. Every well-marked intersection off Sheikh Zayed Road leads to a different district—including Dubai Marina, Emirates Hills, and Knowledge City—as well as that area's major attractions. This road is the thoroughfare for most of the traffic traveling north and south, so it's always busy. By taxi, the trip from Deira to Dubai Marina takes about 45 minutes. Dubai doesn't use building numbers in its street addresses. People navigate by referencing major hotels, roads, intersections, or other well-known landmarks. Taxi drivers know how to reach all the main attractions, but if you're looking for something off the beaten path—say, a particular specialty store—find out which hotel, mall, or other geographical marker is close to your destination. Direct your driver to that location, so he knows the general area to which you want to go.
Day 2 Abu Dhabi
Just a few decades ago, Abu Dhabi, the island capital of the United Arab Emirates, was a small fishing village with houses made of mud-brick and palm fronds. Today, as a result of revenue from oil, Abu Dhabi is one of the world's richest cities, with wide, tree-lined okulevards, lush green parks, gushing fountains and imposing skyscrapers. Somewhat of a dichotomy, Abu Dhabi is a combination of ultra-modern sophistication and Arab mystique, with friendly and hospitable people offering a warm welcome to visitors. Abu Dhabi's history originated in the 18th century, when, according to legend, a group of tribesmen pursuing a gazelle came upon a freshwater well which they named Abu Dhabi, or "Father of the Gazelle". In the 19th century, the first fort was built over this well by a sheikh of the Al-Nahyan dynasty. The fort's name is Al Husn Palace, also known as Old or White Fort, and it is one of the few buildings in Abu Dhabi that is more than 25 years old. Its whitewashed walls are eye-catching amid the backdrop of today's skyscrapers. Presently, it is home to the Cultural Foundation and serves as a documents centre. Abu Dhabi had little significance until the discovery of vast oil reserves in the late 1950s and early 1960s. In the years following, the city's economy and infrastructure developed rapidly and changed Abu Dhabi beyond recognition.
Day 3 Doha
Doha (population 700,000) is the capital of the State of Qatar, an emirate occupying the small Qatar Peninsula bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south and otherwise surrounded by the Persian Gulf. Qatar was ruled by many different powers through the centuries, in fact historians have traced human habitation dating back 5000 years. From its earliest history, Qatar was a very important trade route connecting Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley. Among its occupiers were the Portuguese, the Ottomans and finally the British during the turbulent years of the 20th century. Qatar gained independence in 1971, and with resources from oil exportation, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Hamad made improvements in social programmes including education, health and housing. In 1995, his son, His Highness Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani assumed the throne and brought with him a modern and progressive approach that quickly transformed the country. Doha, home to 80 percent of the country’s population, was founded under the name of Al-Bida in 1850. It became the capital of the British protectorate of Qatar in 1916. When the nation gained its independence, Doha remained the capital. During the early 20th century, much of Qatar’s economy depended on fishing and pearling. But after the introduction of Japanese cultured pearls, Doha and the whole region suffered a decline. Only when oil was discovered, prosperity returned following World War II. Today, the country produces over 800,000 barrels of oil daily. Doha is situated halfway down the east coast of the peninsula. It is an intriguing mixture of old and new, with ultra modern architecture next to traditional souqs and historic forts. It boasts a university and the Qatar National Museum (currently closed for renovation), which opened 1975 in what was originally the ruler’s palace. As the country’s cultural and commercial centre, Doha enjoys excellent communications with the outside world through its modern seaport, airport and telephone links. The Al Jazeera Arabic satellite television news channel began broadcasting in 1996 with its headquarters in Doha. While Arabic is the official language, English is widely spoken. Please Note: Conservative dress is required when going ashore. As a rule, women should not wear miniskirts, shorts or sleeveless tops and men should always wear a shirt in public. Please do not photograph people without their permission, especially women. You may not take pictures of government buildings, embassies or anything military in nature, including airports.
Day 4 Day at Sea
Days at sea are the perfect opportunity to relax, unwind and catch up with what you’ve been meaning to do. So whether that is going to the gym, visiting the spa, whale watching, catching up on your reading or simply topping up your tan, these blue sea days are the perfect balance to busy days spent exploring shore side.
Days 5-6 Muscat
Oman's capital city is hemmed in on one side by spectacular jagged-peaked mountains and on the other by royal blue sea. The architecture is a traditional, sophisticated arabesque blend of white-washed, low-rise buildings surrounded by manicured palms, intricately designed domes set atop the minarets of the mosques, sand-colored villas, a surprising blend of modern art installations, like a giant incense burner that towers over the Corniche, and ancient forts set in the rocky hills. Though tradition abounds, from distinct, local cuisine to the widely worn national dress, the dishdasha, Muscat is a completely modern city, featuring opulent luxury hotels, international restaurants, excellent cellular and data service, sprawling shopping malls, pristine beaches, lively nightlife, world-class performing arts, and a highly educated population, most of whom speak English, Arabic, and often Hindi. Muscat is the ideal base for exploring other areas of the country since many of the most desirable destinations are within a few hours' drive.
Days 7-8 Days at Sea
Day 9 Mumbai
Delhi may be the capital city, but it's Mumbai that encapsulates all the dynamic, chaotic parts that make up modern India. This is where you'll find everything from succulent street food to haute cuisine, bargain-basement bazaars to the finest haute couture, humbling poverty to staggering wealth, sacred temples to hedonist nightclubs. Mumbai is India—vibrant, hectic, frustrating, enervating, and exhilarating, warts and all. Mumbai is a city of extremes, where slum-dwelling strivers making dollars a day serve Bollywood stars and industrial billionaires. It's a 24-hour city stocked with some of the best late-night street food in the world, as well as fine-dining restaurants of renowned chefs. It's a cosmopolitan city of people from all over India that's nonetheless home to strident parochialism. It's a city of dreams for millions of Indians that, at the same time, affords so few any measure of comfort. And it's a beautiful city of silver towers when viewed by twilight from the new Bandra-Worli Sea Link bridge over the Arabian Sea that connects the Western suburbs to the city, but which quickly descends into a maze of winding—often dirty—streets and alleys when viewed up close. Sensory overload is the name of the game on the island formerly known as Bombay (and yes, many locals still call it by its previous moniker). The first thing that hits you when you arrive at the airport is the smell—spicy, fishy, and, to be honest, often not altogether pleasant. Next comes a crazed cab ride through the seemingly lawless streets (should your driver run a red light or, just as likely, drive on the wrong side of the road, remain calm). Then a traffic jam in the midst of a veritable symphony of honking, in which barefoot children, often holding infants, and tragically disfigured men and women knock at your window, begging for change. Persevere through, though; embrace and try to understand the natural hazards of the Third World, and you'll find yourself in the middle of a vibrant, often beautiful city. There's plenty to see in Mumbai, but it's not generally in the form of stationary monuments like those in London, Paris, or Delhi. The art of experiencing Mumbai lies in eating, shopping, and wandering through the strikingly different neighborhoods and the various markets. Think of Mumbai as a 50-km (30-mile) -long open-air bazaar. Colaba, headed by Gateway of India, is the tourist district and main drag for visitors, and from the Gateway of India to Colaba Market, along the main road, is a walkable stretch of hotels, pubs, restaurants, and interesting shops. Churchgate and Nariman Point are the business and hotel centers, and major bank and airline headquarters are clustered in skyscrapers on Nariman Point. The district referred to as Fort—which includes Mumbai's hub, Flora Fountain—is filled with narrow, bustling streets lined with small shops and office buildings, as well as colleges and other educational facilities. Another upscale residential neighborhood, Malabar Hill, north of Churchgate on Marine Drive, is leafy and breezy, with fine, old stone mansions housing wealthy industrialists and government ministers. Shopping and people-watching are most colorfully combined in Mumbai's chaotic bazaar areas, such as Chor Bazaar, Zaveri (jewelry) Bazaar, and Crawford Market (aka Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Market). Many of the city's newest and trendiest shops and restaurants are now out in the suburbs—where more and more people have been moving due to soaring real-estate prices and a lack of space—but South Mumbai still retains some of the very best. Some travelers opt to stay in the suburbs, either in Bandra, at the end of the new Bandra-Worli Sea Link, or in Juhu, a popular coastal suburb between Mumbai and the airports (about 20 km [12 miles] north of the city center). Juhu's beaches aren't clean enough for swimming, and the place can be scruffy, but staying out here is a good way to observe everyday Indian life beyond the shadow of Mumbai's skyline. Sunday nights bring families down to the beach for an old-fashioned carnival, complete with small, hand-powered Ferris wheels, and lantern-lit snack stalls hawking sugarcane.
Day 10 Mumbai
All This Included
Departing superlative Dubai and understated Muscat, embrace the exoticism and romance of the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea. Bringing to mind stories of your youth, this swashbuckling voyage takes in grandeur and grace, majesty and myth. Two days of rest and relaxation is the ideal prelude as you embrace the madness of Mumbai – gateway to India and truly a city of extremes.
Cruising: Cabin onboard Silver Spirit
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