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Cruises to Africa and Cruises in the Middle East

A combination of oil politics and religion once made cruises to the Middle East and Africa as scarce as water in the Sahara. The socio-political conditions are yet to make leaps and bounds for this region to leave its mark in the international travel scene, but if you are willing to leave your preconceived notions as you leave your ship, you will find Africa and the Middle East a whole new experience, one you will be hard-pressed to find anywhere else.

Cruises to ancient trade routes south and southeast of the Mediterranean are all about entering a world forged by ruined city-states and fallen empires, shaped by Nile and sand dunes, baptized in Islam, and littered with souks, bazaars, monuments to pharaohs and cradles of civilization.

Red Sea Cruises to the Middle East

Cruises to the African-Mediterranean region take one of two major routes. A Middle East cruise departs from Italy and sails eastern Mediterranean, calling on the ports of Greece, Turkey, Montenegro, Croatia and Cyprus before transiting the narrow Suez Canal and cruising down the Red Sea to call on the ports of Egypt, Jordan and Israel. From here, the cruise leaves the Horn of Africa and rounds the Arabian Peninsula, calling on the port of Muscat before finally arriving at the more Westernized emirates of Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the Persian Gulf.

An extended Middle East cruise goes as far as Southeast Asia, calling on India, Sri Lanka and Malaysia, before finally arriving at Singapore on a month-long itinerary.

Red Sea Cruises and Cruises to the Persian Gulf

Travel to the Middle East for a shorter week-long cruise but a longer look at the wonders of the ancient world, Red Sea cruises bring you to the Egyptian resort town of Sharm el Sheikh. From here, you will be ferried across the northern prong of the Red Sea to the port of Safaga for an excursion to the Valley of the Kings and the Avenue of Sphinxes. After an encounter with the Nile, it’s back across the Red Sea to the coastal city of Aqaba in Jordan where you can join an expedition to the 2,000-year-old Red City of Petra. A call on the port of Eilat in southern Israel means you can sneak a trip to the birthplace of Christianity in Jerusalem.

In contrast, an Arabian cruise brings you to the modern emirates in the Persian Gulf. Dubai and Abu Dhabi are the center of finance, commerce and Western influence in the Arab world, a welcoming sight after you step back in time. 

Cruises to Cape Town from the Mediterranean & London

Cruises to Africa with emphasis on the Mediterranean depart from western Mediterranean Sea, drop anchor in Marseille, Barcelona and Lisbon, and then sail the Atlantic Ocean via the Straits of Gibraltar. The cruise makes a quick stop at Madeira and then sweeps the western coast of Africa before arriving at the southern tip of the continent, the scenic and touristy Cape Town.

A more African-oriented cruise would skim the western Mediterranean but leave plenty of time to explore Morocco, Senegal and Namibia. Grander Africa cruises departs from Cape Town in South Africa, and then call on every major port of Africa’s western seaboard before passing by Lisbon and arriving at London.

Cruises to Cape Town or a reverse cruise from Cape Town to London usually take between two to three weeks.

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