AIA Tours: cruise

Persian Gulf Cruise: Dubai, Qatar, Abu Dhabi and Oman

Tour Dates: January 8-18, 2021 in the planning stages (11 days)

Tour Leader(s): Trevor Marchand ,

This tour is in the planning stages for the January 2021 departure. To be notified before others when the tour is available and to receive a detailed brochure, contact us at 800-748-6262 or

You are invited to join Archaeological Institute of America lecturer and host Trevor Marchand for this compelling cruise aboard the yacht-like, all-suite, 31-cabin Crystal Esprit. In the Persian Gulf states, old and new co-exist in innovative and intriguing ways. During this exploration of Dubai, Qatar, Abu Dhabi, and Oman you will visit the mosques, souks, educational institutions, and museums that reflect a fascinating juxtaposition of past and present that is unique to the Islamic world.

Begin your exploration among the dazzling skyscrapers of Dubai, the business and cultural hub of the Middle East and home to some of the most stunning architectural masterpieces of the 20th and 21st centuries. Continue to Qatar, where visits to the old souq and the new Education City illustrate how dramatically change has come to the Gulf States. In the emirate of Abu Dhabi, museums, mosques, and Masdar City amaze with both their sheer grandeur and minute detail. Wrap up your journey with a cruise through the fjord-like waterways of Oman’s Musandam Peninsula and visits to some of the country’s culturally rich museums, mosques, and markets. For those who wish to further explore the region, optional pre- and post-cruise extensions in Dubai and Oman’s interior are also available.

Program Rates per person

Category Description Double Single
Suite S4 (#201-202) Seabreeze Deck 223 sq. feet, queen or twin beds, shower TBA TBA
Suite S3
(Light Blue)
Seabreeze Deck/Horizon Deck 280 sq. feet, king, queen, or twin beds, shower, sofa TBA TBA
Suite S2
Seabreeze Deck 280 sq. feet, king or twin beds, shower, sofa TBA TBA
Suite S1
Horizon Deck 280 sq. feet, king or twin beds, shower, sofa TBA  –
Owner’s Suite
Seabreeze Deck 515 sq. feet, king bed, separate sitting and dining rooms, jacuzzi tub with separate shower, sofa TBA  –

Sheikh Zayed Mosque, Abu Dhabi © wikiemirati

Museum of Islamic Art, Doha, Qatar © Mohamod Fasil

Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, Muscat, Oman © Patano

Abu Dhabi at dawn, UAE © Clemence Jacqueri

31-cabin Crystal Esprit

A Suite on the Crystal Esprit


Day 1 & 2 Home / Dubai, UAE
Day 3 Dubai
Day 4 Doha, Qatar
Day 5 Doha
Day 6 Abu Dhabi, UAE
Day 7 Abu Dhabi
Day 8 Musandam Peninsula, Oman
Day 9 Muscat
Day 10 Muscat
Day 11 Muscat / Home

Optional Pre-Cruise Extension
Dubai: January 1–3, 2020

Optional Post-Cruise Extension
Oman’s Interior: January 12–15, 2020

View Detailed Itinerary

(B)=Breakfast, (L)=Lunch, (D)=Dinner, (R)=Reception

Friday & Saturday, January 8 & 9 Home / Dubai, UAE
Depart home on an overnight flight to Dubai. Upon arrival on January 3, transfer to the Crystal Esprit for embarkation. Crystal Esprit (Meals Aloft, D)

Sunday, January 10 Dubai
After a welcome orientation and lecture, explore modern Dubai, including the Burj al Arab Hotel, which stands 1,053 feet above the ground and is located on an artificial island connected to Jumeirah Beach; Ski Dubai, an indoor ski resort complete with ski slopes, toboggan and sled runs, giant snowballs, ice caves, and resident penguins; and Burj Khalifa, at 2,722 feet the tallest artificial structure in the world. From an observation deck on the 124th floor, marvel at the panoramic views over the surrounding city. This evening enjoy a welcome reception and dinner onboard. Crystal Esprit (B,L,R,D)

Monday, January 11 Doha, Qatar
Doha is the fast-growing capital of Qatar, and an important Middle Eastern financial center. Explore the Museum of Islamic Art, designed by I.M. Pei and located on the city’s Corniche. This architectural gem houses collections of metalwork, ceramics, jewelry, woodwork, textiles, and glass dating from the 1600s to the 1900s. Stroll through Souq Waqif, founded a century ago and noted for offering traditional garments, spices, and handicrafts. Continue to Education City, which covers more than five square miles and houses facilities for pre-school through graduate-level research and education, as well as branches of six U.S. universities and several European educational institutions. Conclude the day at the Doha Racing and Equestrian Club, where horse racing is serious business and horses, which have played an important role in the history of the Arab world for centuries, live like royalty. Crystal Esprit (B,L,D)

Tuesday, January 12 Doha
This morning travel over towering sand dunes in four-wheel-drive vehicles to Qatar’s magnificent Inland Sea, a shallow tidal lake with a narrow outlet to the sea and shores in both Qatar and Saudi Arabia. After lunch in the desert, return to the ship and depart Qatar. Crystal Esprit (B,L,D)

Wednesday, January 13 Abu Dhabi, UAE
This morning we arrive in Abu Dhabi, capital of the UAE and largest of the seven emirates. Visit the majestic Sheikh Zayed Mosque, a dazzling construction of white marble, gold leaf, semi-precious stones, crystals, and ceramic tiles. Also visit Masdar City, a $20 billion enterprise showcasing Abu Dhabi’s investments in renewable energy and green technology.Crystal Esprit (B,L,D)

Thursday, January 14 Abu Dhabi
Spend the morning at the breathtaking cultural highlights of the newly opened Louvre Abu Dhabi Museum on Saadiyat Island. There are 12 galleries curated masterfully in partnership with the Louvre, Paris. The stunning floating dome of light designed by renowned architect Jean Nouvel is a photographer’s delight. Continue to Qasr Al Hosn, the oldest stone building in Abu Dhabi, and experience the history of Abu Dhabi through a series of exhibitions. Crystal Esprit (B,L,D)

Friday, January 15 Musandam Peninsula, Oman
The Musandam Peninsula, a region of fjordlike landscapes and traditional small villages, is one of the Gulf States’ last wilderness areas. Board a traditional wooden dhow to access scenic inlets, and snorkel near a coral reef to view butterfly fish, groupers, and even dolphins. Crystal Esprit (B,L,D)

Saturday, January 16 Muscat
Disembark the Crystal Esprit this morning and visit the Bait Adam Museum, whose interactive exhibits on Muscat’s history and culture will be explained by the head of the museum. Continue to Muttrah Souk, the oldest market in Oman and an exotic, fragrant treasure chest filled with gold and silver, antiques, frankincense, clothing, toys, and spices. Check into the Al Bustan Palace, a Ritz Carlton hotel overlooking the Gulf of Oman. Al Bustan Palace Hotel (B,L,D)

Sunday, January 17 Muscat
Begin the day at the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque. The primary place of worship in Oman, it is the only mosque in the country that allows non-Muslims to enter. The main hall, which can accommodate more than 6,000 worshippers, is crowned by an enormous chandelier of Swarovski crystal and delicate gold-plated metalwork. Continue to the Omani Heritage Gallery, a nonprofit that supports Omani artisans working in traditional crafts. The Gallery is a wonderful place to view a wide range of authentic, high-quality products including jewelry, tribal weavings, camel trappings, woven baskets, textiles, and copper and leather articles. End the day’s activities at the Bait Al Zubair Museum. Built by Sheikh Al Zubair as a residence in 1914, it was converted into a museum by his son in 1998 to display a comprehensive collection of Omani art and artifacts. Celebrate your journey this evening with a farewell reception and dinner at the hotel. Al Bustan Palac e Hotel (B,L,R,D)

Monday, January 18 Muscat / Home
Transfer to the airport for flights home. (B)

Optional Pre-Cruise Extension
Dubai January 1–3, 2020

Explore “Old Dubai” on this pre-cruise extension. Depart home on January 1 and fly overnight to Dubai, arriving January 2. On January 3, board an abra (water taxi) to cross Dubai Creek and explore the historic Bastakia district. Learn about Dubai’s history at Al-Fahidi Fort and

Dubai Museum, and enjoy lunch and a special presentation on Islam at the Sheikh Mohamed Centre for Cultural Understanding. Embark the Crystal Esprit in the late afternoon to begin the main tour. Radiss on Blu Deira Creek (1B/1L).

Rates: $790 per person, double occupancy; $990 per person, single occupancy.

Optional Post-Cruise Extension
Oman’s Interior January 12–15, 2020

Explore the Bedouin culture of the desert on this three-night post-cruise extension. Depart Muscat for Oman’s interior to explore forts, date plantations, orchards, and mountain villages from the luxurious Alila Jabal Akhdar Hotel in the awe-inspiring Al Hajar Mountains. Continue to the Desert Nights Camp and meet a Bedouin family at the Wahiba Sands, a vast, undulating red-and-white sea of sand dunes that rise to more than 650 feet high. Alila Ja bal Akhdar Hotel and Desert Nights Camp (4B/3L/3D).

Rates: $2,990 per person, double occupancy; $4,180 per person, single occupancy.


For reservations or questions, please email us at (and include your full name) or call us toll-free at (800) 748-6262 (toll: 603-756-2884).

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