“Travelling - it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller” said the famous Berber explorer Ibn Battûta. Almost seven centuries later, while humans have partly tamed the arid landscapes of the immense Arabian Desert, the Oriental charm remains and its history is written in the present tense. Bathed by the Persian Gulf, crossed by a desert dotted with oases whose mere mention is enough to captivate us, the Eastern part of the Arabian Peninsula welcomes you for an all-new 11-day cruise aboard Le Bougainville.
The Sultanate of Oman is as discreet as its Emirati neighbours are bold. The sea maintains a special place in the kingdom of the legendary Sinbad the Sailor. The fishermen here perpetuate millennial traditions while the shipyards are still in operation. Between the sea and the desert, you will sail through the carved fjords of Musandam from Khasab and, leaving from Sur, you will experience the enchantment procured by the shade and cool of a wadi - lush oases planted with palm trees. On the Daymaniyat Islands, you can dive and snorkel in an exceptional natural sanctuary where turtles come to nest. In the capital, Muscat, the fragrances of the Orient and of incense will intoxicate you, the sparkling colours of the markets will captivate you, and the vibrant bustle of the souk will enchant you. The Near East exudes its incredible poetry.
In this region of the world, ancient cities rub shoulders with the futuristic towns designed and shaped by the greatest contemporary architects. Dubai and its skyscrapers that are among the tallest in the world; Abu Dhabi, with its Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and its new Louvre Museum; Doha and its bay offering a panorama of its fascinating skyline: they all offer a singular and breath-taking experience. You will discover the capital of Bahrain, Manama, which may be less famous but is no less exciting. As a crossroads for trade routes since ancient times, today it is also more avant-garde than its Emirate sisters. The colourful souk and the Bahrain National Museum are among its must-see sites.
For the first time, you will have the opportunity to discover the Saudi city of Dammam. This modern metropolis is renowned for its pleasant waterfront and white sandy beaches; above all, though, it is the gateway to the Al Hasa oasis, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In the endless desert, imagine the largest oasis in the world, its fragrant gardens crossed by canals, springs and palm trees… palm trees as far as the eye can see. This hydraulic installation system, the historic buildings and the archaeological sites provide evidence of a sedentary human presence in the territory since the Neolithic period.
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Important trip details
Saudi Arabia: mandatory transit visa (conditions to be updated)
The information below is current but subject to change at any time without advance notice from government authorities. Please consult your respective government agencies for visa and health information.
Passport valid for at least six (6) months beyond the completion of your trip. Passport must contain at least two completely clear, blank, unused visa pages for each visa required, not including any amendment pages. Visa pages with stains or ink from other pages in the passport are not usable. Guests who deviate from the scheduled embarkation or disembarkation port should research the foreign entry requirements for the port country. Due to government regulations, regrettably, Ponant will have to deny boarding to any guest who fails to obtain the appropriate travel documentation for this trip.
Warning about the use of drones: the use of drones aboard PONANT ships, whether they are sailing at sea, at a port of call or anchored, is strictly forbidden. The use of drones on land in the Arctic and Antarctic regions is also strictly forbidden by international polar regulations. In other regions, it may be possible to use drones on land if permission has been obtained from the relevant authorities of each country and each region travelled through, as well as a pilot’s licence that should be obtained from your home country. Passengers are responsible for obtaining these permits; they should be able to present them at all times. Passengers who do not obtain these authorisations expose themselves to the risk of legal proceedings.
Qatar: Visa issued onboard (at no charge)
Oman: Citizens of the USA, Canada, UK, Australia, Japan, Germany no longer need to get a visa for stays up to 14 days.
Consult here the complete list of nationalities concerned by this exemption.
For other nationalities, an e-visa must be obtained before your cruise. You can apply on https://evisa.rop.gov.om. The e-visa document is valid for 1 month starting from date of issuance. E-visa application should be made within the month preceding your departure.
Ideal clothes for life on board:
During the days spent on board, you are advised to wear comfortable clothes or casual outfits. The entire ship is air-conditioned, so a light sweater, a light jacket or a shawl may be necessary. When moving about in the public areas of the ship and the decks, light but comfortable shoes are recommended.
In the evening, you are advised to wear smart-casual attire, especially when dining in our restaurants where wearing shorts and tee-shirts is not allowed.
Depending on the itinerary and the program of your cruise, an Officer’s Evening with a white dress code may be organized. Therefore, we encourage you to bring a stylish white outfit for the occasion (otherwise black and white).
During the cruise, two gala evenings will be organised on board. Thus, we recommend that you bring one or two formal outfits.
A small shop is available on board offering a wide range of outfits, jewellery, leather goods and many accessories.
A laundry service (washing/ironing) is available on board, but unfortunately there are no dry cleaning services. For safety reasons, your cabin is not equipped with an iron.
OUTFITS ON BOARD:
In your hand luggage, remember to bring any medicines that you need, and possibly a small spare bag of toiletries (in case of delay in the delivery of your baggage by the airline). Remember to always have your travel documents with you in case you need them: hotel vouchers, cruise vouchers, return flight tickets... Never leave them in your hold luggage.
All our cabins have a safe. We recommend not to go ashore with valuable jewellery.
Embarkation 18/11/2023 from 16:00 to 17:00
Departure 18/11/2023 at 18:00
Unlike neighbouring metropolises, the capital of the Sultanate of Oman has chosen to ban towers and skyscrapers and to cultivate the peninsula’s traditional and refined architectural style: low houses, domes, moucharaby windows, and wooden balconies. This authenticity adds to the charm of this small former maritime city protected by mountains and the forts constructed by the Portuguese in the 16th century. There is no doubt that you will fall under the charm of the treasures of Omani craftsmanship: the souk in the old district of Mutrah is a perfect example of this, as is the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque.
Arrival 19/11/2023 early morning
Departure 19/11/2023 early evening
Built on either side of a lagoon, Sur is a city and seaport in the north-east of the Sultanate of Oman, on the coast of the Gulf of Oman. Connected to the sea by a channel, the port was very active for a long time, having regular dealings with Africa and India since the 6th century. Sur is renowned for being the only Omani city to have retained its traditional boatyards, where dhows (wooden sailing ships) are hand-crafted. The city’s charm stems from its immaculate white houses dotting the seafront and from its fort erected on a hill along the road to Muscat.
Arrival 20/11/2023 early morning
Departure 20/11/2023 late afternoon
Set atop the turquoise waters of the Gulf of Oman, the Daymaniyat Islands have been a nature reserve since the 1980s. Some forty kilometres (25 miles) off the coast from Muscat, the Omani capital, their craggy coastlines form natural pools home to an incredible biodiversity. The different types of coral reefs that dot this ecosystem, the turtles that nest there, and the numerous species of fish make this an ideal destination for scuba diving and snorkelling. This rocky landscape is also the favourite spot of many birds, both endemic and migratory.
Arrival 21/11/2023 midday
Departure 21/11/2023 evening
Located in the country’s north, on the Musandam Peninsula, Khasab is a city in the Sultanate of Oman. In the Strait of Hormuz, which connects the Persian Gulf to the Gulf of Oman, this small port built by the Portuguese in the 16th century and surrounded by a chain of rocky mountains was established at the mouth of Wadi Khasab. You will love its authentic scenery and particularly its fjords, which cut through the landscapes in a spectacular fashion and have earned it the moniker “Norway of Arabia”. In the city, Khasab Castle and its atypical architecture are well worth a visit to discover the history and culture of Oman.
Arrival 22/11/2023 early morning
Departure 22/11/2023 late evening
Vertiginous, excessive, immoderate… Dubai, the largest city in the United Arab Emirates, stands out for its architectural follies. Home to the world’s tallest skyscraper, the Burj Kahlifa, with a total height of 828 metres, almost three times that of the Eiffel Tower, the city is also famous for the gigantic scale of the Palm Islands, its artificial islands in the form of a palm tree. You can explore more traditional districts not far away, with visits of the souks of Deira or the Gold Souk. Or perhaps you would prefer to discover Dubai Museum: located in an 18th-century fort, it tells the city’s history from Antiquity to the present day.
Arrival 23/11/2023 early morning
Departure 24/11/2023 late evening
The political capital of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi stands out thanks to its exceptional cultural offering. In the Saadiyat Island district, the Louvre Abu Dhabi, designed by Jean Nouvel as a museum town inspired by traditional Arab architecture, creates a dialogue between objects and works from civilisations from all over the world around the great universal questions. A little further, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque boasts a sumptuous decor of marble, gold and glass. Abu Dhabi is also the gateway to the Al Ain oasis and its 150,000 date palms, a remarkable testimony to the settling of nomads in the region since Neolithic times, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
During your day at sea, make the most of the many services and activities on board. Treat yourself to a moment of relaxation in the spa or stay in shape in the fitness centre. Depending on the season, let yourself be tempted by the swimming pool or a spot of sunbathing. This day without a port of call will also be an opportunity to enjoy the conferences or shows proposed on board, to do some shopping in the boutique or to meet the PONANT photographers in their dedicated space. As for lovers of the open sea, they will be able to visit the ship’s upper deck to admire the spectacle of the waves and perhaps be lucky enough to observe marine species. A truly enchanted interlude, combining comfort, rest and entertainment.
Arrival 26/11/2023 early morning
Departure 26/11/2023 late evening
On the Saudi shores of the Persian Gulf, Dammam reveals its winding coastline, home to fine-sand beaches and pleasant seafront. The capital of the Eastern Province of Ash-Sharqiyah boasts a prime position along the calm waters of the Arabian Gulf. Edged with rows of palm trees facing the sea, this modern city is also the gateway to the beautiful Al-Ahsa Oasis. Take an optional excursion into the world’s largest oasis to see verdant gardens planted with countless palm trees, a sophisticated irrigation system, and archaeological sites attesting to human presence since the Neolithic period. The extraordinary landscape is listed as World Heritage by UNESCO.
Arrival 27/11/2023 early morning
Departure 27/11/2023 evening
At the crossroads of trade routes since ancient times, Manama, the capital of Bahrain, still bears traces of what were, for centuries, the pillars of the economy in the Persian Gulf: pearl harvesting, and the construction of traditional sailing vessels called dhows. But the major draw of this small island in Bahrain is undeniably the vestiges of human presence dating back nearly 5,000 years. The ancient harbour and capital of Dilmun, Qal'at al-Bahrain, is, along with the Dilmun Burial Mounds scattered across the island, an essential relic of this Mesopotamian civilisation. Both are listed as UNESCO World Heritage. Ancient colonisations would come later, by the Assyrians, the Achaemenids, the Macedonians, then the Arabs in the Middle Ages, before the more contemporary invasions by the Portuguese, the Persians and the Ottomans. This tumultuous history now gives this small territory rich influences.
Arrival 28/11/2023 early morning
Disembarkation 28/11/2023 at 07:00
On the banks of the Persian Gulf, discover Doha, the capital of Qatar. Rising out of the desert, the city has managed to maintain its traditions in spite of a frantic race for modernity. The cliff bordering Doha Bay has magnificent views over the city centre’s enormous constructions. The silhouette of the Museum of Islamic Art rises up near the quays, where the region’s typical sailboats, known as dhows, are docked. This “fortress”, designed by Ming Pei, the architect of the Louvre pyramid, is home to the finest collections of Islamic art in the world. Not far, the lively district of Souq Waqif and its colourful stalls are also an unmissable visit.
Aboard your ship, an English-speaking lecturer will enlighten you about the culture and history of your destination to deepen your knowledge of the origins of local traditions, the history of emblematic sites, and stories involving famous personalities and those of major historical significance. During on-board lectures or on your shore visits, this expert will be there to share their precious knowledge with you throughout your PONANT cruise.
No single supplement
FREE SINGLE SUPPLEMENT *
*The supplement for single usage of a double cabin is waived, according to availability and staterooms categories.