November 14–17 — U.S., Muscat and Embark the Island Sky
Arrive in Muscat, Oman. On tour, view the 16th-century Jelali Fortress and the palace of Sultan Qaboos. Admire a comprehensive collection of Omani art and artifacts at the Bait al-Zubair Museum, and see the majestic Grand Mosque, which can accommodate more than 6,000 worshippers. Examine Muscat’s past at the Bait al Baranda Museum and explore the famous Muttrah Souk—an exotic, fragrant market filled with gold and silver, antiques, frankincense, and spices. Embark the Island Sky and set sail on the Arabian Gulf.
November 18 — Musandam Peninsula
After a morning at sea, arrive in Khasab, the capital of Musandam Province. Separated from the rest of Oman by steep mountains, this region of fjords and small villages comprises one of the Gulf States’ last wilderness areas. Visit a 16th-century fort and marvel at prehistoric rock paintings created by early settlers, then explore the scenic inlets aboard a traditional wooden dhow. Snorkel near a coral reef where butterfly fish, groupers, and even dolphins may be seen.
November 19–20 — At Sea and Manama
Relax and enjoy a full day at sea as the Island Sky glides to Bahrain. In Manama, discover the impressive Al Fateh Grand Mosque and the National Museum, which houses artifacts of the ancient Dilmun civilization. Venture to the town of A’ali, an interesting juxtaposition of modern homes and massive centuries-old tombs. Examine rare Qu’ranic manuscripts at the exceptional Beit al Qu’ran, a cultural institution promoting the understanding of Islam.
November 21–23 — Doha, Abu Dhabi and Dubai
Visit Doha’s intriguing falcon market and picturesque seafront Corniche. After lunch , board four-wheel drive vehicles for a thrilling desert safari to an inland sea. Bask in traditional Arab hospitality in a tented setting: have an intricate henna design applied to your hands or feet, swim in the turquoise waters, or simply relax with a cup of cardamom-flavored coffee brewed over an open fire. Enjoy a full day of cruising as the Island Sky sails toward the emirate of Abu Dhabi. There, meet some of the visionaries behind the ambitious project to construct the largest cultural center in the Middle East. Continue to Dubai in the afternoon.
November 24–25 — Dubai, Sharjah, Dubai, Disembark and U.S.
Travel to the emirate of Sharjah, where more than a hundred native species, including Rueppell’s sand foxes, Egyptian fruit bats, and Arabian oryxes, may be observed in natural habitats at the Wildlife Center. Tour Al Naboodah House, a cultural heritage museum, and then return to glittering Dubai, the commercial hub of the Middle East. Explore the city’s old quarter and cross Dubai Creek by abra (water taxi) to stroll through the gold and spice souks. Enjoy a farewell reception and dinner on the ship and disembark the next morning for flights to the U.S.