Desert Dunes and Deep Water Invite Adventurous Travelers to Discover More
The mention of Egypt unfailingly brings mental images of ancient temples, pyramids, pharaohs and archaeological sites. Dubai brings towering glass buildings and shining supercars to mind, and Oman is known for its traditional domed architecture and colorfully adorned museums. The Middle East is rich in historic significance and UNESCO sites that top many travelers’ must-see lists. But beyond the cultural traditions and treasures of the region – all of which add meaningful understanding of these fascinating destinations – are plenty of ways to get out and do more. The rolling desert dunes and the Red Sea’s biodiversity that punctuate the natural landscape here are the perfect setting for active pursuits in the hot Arabian sun.
Here are five of our favorites.
A desert safari in Dubai, with champagne, of course. Once you’ve departed your Crystal ship, the first order of business is to deflate the tires of your 4×4 Land Cruiser. This is essential for deftly navigating the dunes of powder-soft sands that roll for miles and miles outside the skyscraping city. Then, your driver will take you on a rugged ride over the golden sands – up, down and flat-out amazing. Because this is Crystal, the day’s adrenaline rush ends in a champagne toast and sunset views before returning to the ship.
In search of dolphins in Muscat. A snorkeling adventure with a playful twist, as wildlife enthusiasts will relish the chance to spot pods of dolphins that frequent the area surrounding the Marina Bander Al Rowdha. You’ll arrive to the marina by speedboat, a thrilling beginning to a day of discovery and the perfect vantage point for dolphin and whale watching, as Muscat’s rugged coastline is a warm haven for several species. Likewise, the beautiful waters around Bander Khiran are ideal for snorkeling, with intricate coral beds provide a home to an array of exotic fish.
Snorkeling in Luxor/Karnak (from Safaga). Well, not exactly in Luxor. Actually, when your ship arrives in the gateway port to King Tut’s tomb, you’ll instead head to the Red Sea via motorboat, where you’ll don mask and snorkel for underwater discoveries in two separate locales. Water conditions are ideal for longer or multiple dive sessions, as temperatures rarely dip below 71 degrees (F), and visibility is regularly excellent. Which means that the display before you is one of vibrant, healthy, colorful reefs teeming with blue-spotted stingrays, grouper and hundreds of other rainbow-colored species. Again, because this is a Crystal Experience, the adventure concludes with refreshments and a picturesque cruise back to the pier.
Going off-track in Bahrain. The famed Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) is a center for speed, with drag racing, GP2 and F1 Grand Prix events held regularly. Your adventure takes you from your Crystal ship to the premier racing venue, passing the Al Fateh Grand Mosque, Bahrain National Museum, the breathtaking Bahrain World Trade Center and the Financial Harbor along the way. Turning onto the Sheikh Salman Highway, continue to the Bahrain International Circuit, a perfect example of traditional design melded with modern amenities.
On arrival, you and your Crystal companions will be divided into two groups: one will participate in the 4×4 adventure while the other enjoys a tour of the BIC. The groups will later switch so that everyone has an opportunity to join both the off-road ride and BIC visit. Hold onto your seat as your driver takes the vehicle over one of the most exciting 4×4 courses in the world, a dramatic off-road route built into the desert landscape of the BIC. The 23 daring obstacles are designed to test the world’s leading 4×4 vehicles and their drivers. The course hosts aptly named features like Rocky Road, Camel Humps and Boomerang Climb. If an adventure can be characterized as “extreme,” this is it.
Bashing dunes in Doha. It’s like sand-surfing, except in a rugged 4-wheel-drive vehicle at varying speeds that carry you up the sweeping “waves” of sand and down the steep hill again. At the pier, you’ll meet your experienced driver and head to the Rub’al-Khali desert, where undulating dunes stretch across the horizon for miles. Your thrilling ride across the dunes takes you dipping and swerving as the “course” allows. Have your camera ready (but hold on tight) to capture the beautiful views of the desert and the sea from the top of the dunes during a brief stop.
The Arabian sun, sand and surf are calling all adventurers on Crystal voyages in 2021, 2022 and 2023. Plan your journey now with increased peace of mind and flexibility.