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Day 1 – Dubai, United Arab Emirates – Today, you set sail aboard the MSC Splendida on a seven night cruise of the Emirates. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a federation of seven states that has grown from a quiet backwater to one of the Middle East’s most important economic centers and is one of the most liberal countries in the Gulf, with other cultures and beliefs generally tolerated.
The MSC Splendida is an unforgettable beautiful destination in her own right. You’ll love the live music and the extraordinary variety of designer-themed bars and restaurants with many gourmet choices to explore, from authentic Mediterranean specialties to spicy Tex-Mex. Complete the night with a world-class show in The Strand Theater, a winning streak in the Royal Palm Casino or dancing in the Club 33 Disco.
Day 2 – Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates – The United Arab Emirates’ capital, Abu Dhabi offers an intriguing contrast to its freewheeling neighbour Dubai, a little over an hour’s drive down the coast. Abu Dhabi is home to the extravagant Emirates Palace hotel and the even more spectacular Sheikh Zayed Mosque, one of the world’s biggest and certainly the most expensive, having taken twelve years to build at a cost of around US$500 million.
There is also Yas Island, home to the vast Ferrari World theme park, lie just down the road. The blockbuster attraction at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island is a dream excursion for any F1 fans. The “world’s biggest indoor theme park”, it offers a wide range of Ferrari-themed rides and displays which will appeal both to kids and grown-ups, including the chance to drive an F1 simulator or to ride the Formula Rossa roller coaster (the world’s fastest) or to experience race-day acceleration in the G Force “tower of speed” – as well as numerous gentler family-oriented rides.
Day 3 – Sir Bani Yas Island – Sir Bani Yas Island has nothing to do with the hyper-technological progress which you will admire on your trip to the capital, Abu Dhabi. On Sir Bani Yas, just like on the islands of Dalma and the six nearby Discovery Islands, an enormous nature reserve has been designated to species in danger of extinction, be they from the Arabic peninsula or from Africa.
On Sir Bani Yas you will be able to observe rare animals inside a protected area where the great majority of the animals, including giraffes, flamingos and cheetahs to name just a few, live freely.
Day 4 – At Sea – Today, you enjoy a relaxing day at sea. Soothe the body and mind in the MSC Aurea Spa with pampering Balinese massages, thalassotherapy, advanced beauty treatments, a Turkish bath, sauna, whirlpool and solarium. You might want to sunbathe in the peace and privacy of the adults-only Top 18 sun deck offering stunning sea views, its own dedicated spa service and bar menu with complimentary fruit skewers. Kids and Teens can enjoy the fabulous facilities and clubs of their own.
Day 5 – Bahrain, Bahrain – Bahrain is an island 25 miles long and just 10 wide. This country with a thousand-year-old culture, is also called “the kingdom of the two seas”, because its waters border with those of Qatar to the south and with those of Saudi Arabia to the west. Discover the charming capital, Manama, a city, where modern skyscrapers stand side-by-side with old buildings. Bahrain has strong ties to nomadic traditions: its inhabitants often head out to the desert and stay in large white tents to participate in the ancient tradition of falcon hunting. The National Museum is an excellent starting point for a visit to the capital: an opportunity to learn about the history and customs of this territory.
The Al Fateh Mosque, on the other hand, is a mystical experience. It is an immense holy building with two imposing minarets, which can host up to 7,000 faithful, built from materials brought from all over the world.
Day 6 – Port Harmad, Doha/Qatar – A journey to Qatar becomes special on an MSC cruise. Visit Doha, the country’s futuristic capital. The city is preparing to host the 2022 World Cup, enhancing its already awesome skyline with new super modern skyscrapers. The Aspire Tower in Doha dominates the skylines. It is the highest building of the country, whose shape is akin to a torch. This building is located near the city of sport, which has already hosted events such as the XII Pan Arab games and which will have a central role during the World Cup. Much of Doha, including places of worship such as the new mosque in the Qatar Faculty of Islamic studies, seems to be already in the future. Don’t miss a visit to the Pearl, a futuristic artificial circular port which is being developed to the north of the city centre.
In the historical centre of Doha you will find a Suq where everything – from camels to gold – can be exchanged, and the Al Khoot fortress, dating back to the end of the nineteenth century and now converted into a museum.
Day 7 – Dubai, United Arab Emirates – This is your the opportunity to discover Bur Dubai, at the heart of the metropolis of Dubai, on the south side of the breezy Creek. It’s the oldest part of Dubai and it offers a fascinating insight into the city’s traditional roots. This is where you’ll find many of the place’s most interesting Arabian heritage houses, clustered in the beautiful old Iranian quarter of Bastakiya and the waterfront Shindagha district, as well as the excellent Dubai Museum and the atmospheric Textile Souk.
A few miles south of the old city centre, modern Dubai begins in spectacular style with Sheikh Zayed Road, home to a neck-cricking array of skyscrapers including the glittering Emirates Towers. Even these, however, are outshone by the massive Downtown Dubai development at the southern end of the strip, centered on the stupendous new Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, flanked by further record-breaking attractions including the gargantuan Dubai Mall and spectacular Dubai Fountain.
Day 8 – Depart for Home – Disembark the ship this morning and depart for home.