The choice of cruise in the Arabian Gulf is steadily growing – here is our pick of the cruise lines that go to the UAE and beyond

Fujairah Fort, UAE, desert
The Fujairah Fort. Credit iStock

With Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Constellation sailing next winter from Abu Dhabi, Iglu Cruise has teamed a 12-night cruise, taking in Khasam, Goa and Mumbai plus two days in Dubai, with a three-night, five-star pre-cruise stay including tickets to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix (both race and qualifying) from £1,699pp, including flights, departing 25 November 2016.

P&O, Aurora, ship, sunset
P&O’s Aurora

One of the leaders in the area is MSC Cruises, which has MSC Musica operating cruises from both Dubai and Abu Dhabi though this winter. From December, MSC Fantasia takes over, with three seven-night itineraries available (fly-cruises from only £799pp), with the possibility of combining two for a 14-night overview of the Gulf. Itineraries stretch from Bahrain in the west to Muscat in the east, taking in everything from placid Sir Bani Yas to the high rises of Doha. The 14-nighter includes two days in Dubai mid-cruise along with a night there at the end so you can make the most of the place.

Royal Caribbean, which has had Splendour of the Seas based in Dubai this winter, has Vision of the Seas there from December through to March 2017 serving up a weekly diet of seven-night cruises taking in Khasab, Abu Dhabi and Muscat (fly-cruises from £1,275pp).

P&O Cruises includes the Gulf on its grand voyages. Departing 9 January 2017 is the 34-night Southampton to Singapore, with a 21-night Southampton to Dubai option (from £2,059pp). After heading to Malta then through the Suez Canal with Egyptian calls in the Red Sea, Aurora sails to Salalah and Muscat in Oman before reaching Dubai for an overnight stay.

Princess CruisesEmerald Princess sets off for Dubai on 28 September with a 20-day Ancient Lands voyage (from £1,499pp) on a similar route but with more Med calls replacing Egypt, followed by a 10-day cruise to India and Thailand.

waterpool, Oman, UAE
Waterpool in Wadi Bani Khalid, Oman. Credit iStock

The historic aspect of the region is increasingly recognised. Voyages of Discovery’s Shores of Arabia & India departs Muscat on 7 November (from £1,743pp including flights) for Colombo in Sri Lanka, taking in Dubai and Khasab. There’s a five-night Wonders of Oman pre-cruise option (from £1,149pp), which includes two nights in Muscat, two in Nizwa (Oman’s 6th-century capital with 400-year-old fort) and one in Sama al Wasil desert camp in the Sharqiya Sands with a visit to the Wadi Bani Khalid oasis. Alternately, two nights in Muscat starts at £399pp.

Luxury small ship company Azamara Club Cruises has various cruises from Dubai including the 16-night Emirates to Petra fly-cruise, including two full days in Muscat, from £2,609pp.

Dubai, once a place for upmarket cruises, next winter sees Thomson Celebration homeport there with its great value offerings. A 15-night Arabian Odyssey leaves Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt on 6 December 2016 (fly-cruise from £928pp). It visits Aqaba in Jordan, Khasab, Abu Dhabi and finally Dubai, where you spend two nights on board. Celebration then settles into weekly Cities of Gold fly-cruises from £801pp, calling at Bahrain, Khasab, Abu Dhabi and Dubai before heading home.

The choice of cruise in the Gulf is steadily growing. There’s every chance that more operators will enter the area and that more destinations will recognise that adding sparkling new cruise ports to their equally sparkling cities is a good move.

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