Oman seamlessly blends ancient civilisations with modern infrastructure: one moment you can explore centuries-old architecture, and the next you can eat gourmet cuisine in world-class restaurants. The country gets year-round sun: in the winter, expect temperatures around 21°C, rising to 40°C in the summer.
Head to the capital, Muscat, for a culture-rich experience, while Salalah offers vivid greenery, and Khasab boasts spectacualr scenery.
Popular ports in Oman
Port Sultan Qaboos
The northern dock of Port Sultan Qaboos is just a 20-minute drive to Oman’s capital: Muscat. When you disembark, make your way straight to the iconic city. If your cruise line doesn’t organise transport, jump in a taxi: they’re reasonably priced with friendly drivers. The ancient walled city is surrounded by volcanic mountains and two old forts. With no buildings taller than eight floors, it sprawls out alongside the coast, its whitewashed buildings and pink mountains contrasting with the azure sea. Standout sights include the majestic Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, the National Museum of Oman, the Royal Opera House and the Riyam Monument. You’ll also want to explore the markets and bazaars and try the delectable cuisine. The food is rich and aromatic: expect dates, spices, citrus and marinated meats. The waters surrounding Muscat are a dream for keen snorkellers and divers: you’ll see dolphins, whale sharks, barracudas and turtles.
On Oman’s southern coast is Salalah Port. The dock itself is dusty and commercial, but only a 15-minute drive to the city. Salalah is Oman’s second-largest city and is a contrast to the capital, Muscat. Thanks to annual monsoons, it’s a green oasis in the middle of rolling sand dunes and deserts. Despite its location, it has a temperate climate ranging between 20°C to 33°C. This has allowed an abundance of lush greenery to flourish. It’s a pretty city: think leafy boulevards, ornate filigree lamps and elegant buildings. Likewise, its beaches and countryside are as beautiful: it’s paradise for divers and birdwatchers. Salalah is home to many famous ancient sites, including the ruined palace of the Queen of Sheba and the tomb of Job the prophet. The groves of frankincense trees are a unique experience – their sweet fragrances are why Salalah is known as the perfume capital of Arabia.
Known as the Norway of Arabia, Khasab is packed with fjord-like inlets and mountainous coastline, so enjoy spectacular scenery while on your cruise. Khasab Port has wonderful views of imposing cliffs around the inlet. There’s also a small beach right next to the port, while the town is a short drive away. The fishing village of Khasab is relatively undisturbed by tourists at the moment, but thanks to its historical importance and magnificent mountains, it’s growing in popularity. The Portuguese founded Khasab as a fort town back in the 17th century so there’s plenty to explore: at Khasab Castle, a medieval Portuguese stronghold, you can learn more about the town’s history and get amazing views over the sea. The town’s seafood restaurants are excellent, serving up super-fresh fish.
What are the best cruise ships for a cruise to Oman?
Make the most of Oman’s spectacular scenery and exciting excursions with a ship that lets you relax and enjoy the ride.
Whether you want to enjoy a cocktail in the bar, a Broadway-style show or try your hand at golfing or rock climbing, Marella Discovery is the ship for your cruise to Oman. Her grand restaurants, five-storey atrium and long list of facilities may seem expensive – but Marella Cruises’ all-inclusive deal means you can travel in luxury without the price tag. You can choose to dine in any of the seven restaurants, sip drinks in one of the many bars, and spend your evenings watching films on the outdoor cinema or dancing to live music. There’s a room or suite to meet your budget and needs, and if you’re travelling with children, you’ll find plenty of activities and facilities just for them.
With Silversea’s Silver Whisper you get all the comforts and luxury that a large liner has and the intimacy of a boutique ship. She’s on the smaller side and carries just under 400 passengers, so you can guarantee peace and tranquillity on board. Silver Whisper is the epitome of high quality: from her contemporary style and marble fittings to her wide range of facilities and activities. Celebrate your cruise around Oman with Silver Whisper’s unforgettable gourmet cuisine: she’s the only ship to have a Relais & Châteaux restaurant. There are other choices if you want a more casual meal, including a grill and an Italian. From exotic cocktails and lively dancefloors to personal trainers, swimming pools and beauty salons, you’ll easily fill your days.
While Oman’s ports are close to major attractions, these excursions will let you see the best of this Arabian gem.
The mysteries of Muscat
The walled city is a hive of activity, so it’s important to plan what you want to see. To get the best understanding of life in Muscat, go for the Grand Mosque, Muscat’s oldest souk and the old town. The Grand Mosque is white outside, but bursts with colour inside: crystal chandeliers, intricate murals and one of the largest Persian carpets ever made. Muttrah Souk is next – the indoor marketplace is filled with colourful jewellery, pottery and spices, so get ready to haggle! Head to Muscat old town last: its two huge forts and the Al Alam Palace are magnificent.
Salalah’s rich history
Take in three of Salalah’s most famous sites: Job’s Tomb, the frankincense groves and Al Mughsail Beach. You’ll start at Job’s Tomb: it’s said the remains of the prophet were found here, making it a sacred pilgrimage point for Muslims, Christians and Jews. Next, you’ll venture towards the frankincense groves and visit Al Balid Museum, or the ‘Land of the Frankincense Museum’. Your last two stops show off Salalah at its most beautiful. Al Mughsail Beach is two miles of white sand, flanked by high cliffs, and the Marneef Caves where you may be lucky enough to see its striking blowholes.
4×4 mountain safari
This 4×4 adventure takes you almost 2,000m above sea level. Starting at Khasab, you’ll drive into the mountains of the Musandam Peninsula. One of the pit stops you’ll make is the picturesque village of Sayah, which is occupied by desert-living Bedouin people and famous for 3,000-year-old rock-face paintings. Your tour will reach its peak at the summit of Jebel Harim, which means the ‘mountain of women’. You’ll find millennia-old inscriptions and fossils up here, as well as stunning views over the ocean.