TRAVEL Specialists, not just Cruise Specialists - A Dream Trip By Senior Consultant, Cory!

Our agency name implies we sell cruise & yes we do specialise in amazing cruise packages. But, we don’t JUST specialise in Cruises! Our sales team have been selling travel for a LONG time. Each member of our team is a specialist in his or her field and between us we have over 120 years of travel experience. 

So, whilst we are all stuck at home, we can still dream & plan that next holiday & that’s exactly what I am doing! 

I have an absolute fascination with Ancient history & below I have put together the ULTIMATE trip. On the bucket list for this trip is Italy, Greece, Israel, Egypt, Jordan & the UAE and I have found the perfect trip that ticks everything off the list with a few additional add-ons.  

First up, departing Sydney with Etihad Airways. The reason I have chosen Etihad is that they offer a complimentary coach service between Abu Dhabi & Dubai and we are going to take advantage of this at the end of the trip. On the way over to Europe, a mandatory stopover will be made in Abu Dhabi. This can generally be for a few hours but Etihad also often offers stopover add-ons at very reasonable prices. So, to take advantage of this and break the long haul journey, I would stay a few nights in Abu Dhabi. Whilst there, a few essential locations to visit would be the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, the largest mosque in the country. It is the key place of worship for daily, Friday and Eid prayers. It’s a stunning sight when lit up at night & conveniently located in the centre of the city. Also a must is the Louvre Abu Dhabi. Artworks from around the world are showcased at the museum, with particular focus placed upon bridging the gap between Eastern and Western art. Of course, there are also plenty of Desert adventures available to try but we are going to leave them once again until the end of the trip.

So, after having a few days in Abu Dhabi, we are a little less jet-lagged and ready for the next trip portion.  The cruise I've chosen departs from Athens but with our itinerary focusing on Ancient Civilizations, and with Italy being so close, we are going to extend a quick break to Italy.  The 3 key cities would be Rome, of course, to see the Vatican Museum, Trevi Fountain, The Colosseum and the list goes on, Florence to get a photo with the Leaning Tower of Pisa & Venice to ride in a Gondola, sit in St Marks Square at sunset & visit the Famous glass blowing Island of Burano.

A great way to see Italy is by using a guided coach company, these can range of group sizes anywhere from 20 to 55 passengers depending on the company. You could also do a self-drive as car hire in Italy is rather cheap but the benefits of doing a trip can often far out way this option with things such as included tours, VIP entry before general ticket holders, porterage & so on. AND the added benefits of not having to drive with a food coma after a long day of eating the most incredible Italian food. 

After getting our Italy fix, let's fly from Venice to have a quick night or 2 in Mykonos for a bit of an Island Break before starting our cruise. In the package I have chosen, we have 2 nights pre-cruise included in Athens, PLUS the departure from the port is a late 7 pm, so this will allow me plenty of time to explore the ancient ruins such as the Acropolis, one of the world's most breathtaking ancient ruins, and spend some time getting lost in the Plaka district's narrow pedestrian streets, lined with quaint bougainvillaea-draped houses and inviting restaurant terraces.

The cruise I have chosen is the Mediterranean & Holy Land Tapestry with Norwegian Cruiseline cruising on Norwegian Jade. In November 2021, the first full day of our cruise is at sea allowing time to explore the ship & get acquainted with where the best bar on the ship is and scoring yourself a signature cocktail (or two). Sailing on Norwegian Jade, the best bar is the Spinnaker Lounge above the Bridge on Deck 13, where angled floor-to-ceiling windows give views of the bow and the sea.

The following few days are port-based in Israel, Egypt & Jordan. Whilst in Ashdod in Israel, you have an overnight stay with options of an overland shore excursion which is 2 days/1 night. This option fully showcases the mesmerizing sights and extraordinary heritage of Israel, however, plenty of full-day or half-day options are also on offer to places such as Jerusalem Old City or Tel Aviv & Jaffa.

The next main stop is Safaga, Egypt. Once again, you overnight here allowing a great amount of time to explore or take the overland shore excursion option which is 2 days/1 night visiting Luxor and the Valley of the Kings. Once again, if this is a little too long for you, there are plenty of 1-day options available. Perhaps a day trip to the Iconic Temples of Karnak & Luxor with a visit to Luxor Museum?

The next stop is a day port-stop in Aqaba Jordan however Magnificent Petra, an ancient city carved out of stone, and one of the World's Seven Wonders, is nearby and that is where you'll find me heading and I bet I won't be the only one....

Following this, we have a few days at sea allowing a chance to take in the fantastic onboard amenities, shows such as Blazing Boots, a tribute to pop country showcasing songs from the genre's biggest stars, and of course the dining options. A Fitness centre is located onboard if you want to work off all the extra meals consumed on the Sea days (but what's the fun in that). I can certainly recommend getting a few treatments at the Thermal Spa, because... Why not!? You have the flexibility to spend your sea days as active or relaxed as you like! 

Next up is Oman. With 3 stops in Oman, there is plenty to see but keep in mind only between 9 – 12 hours is spent in port depending on the port in question. Whatever shore excursion you opt for, make sure you really decide on the perfect fit as you don’t want that buyers regret. My picks would be Salalah & The Land of Frankincense, the full day Best of Muscat tour and a Dhow Cruise to Omani Fjords in Khasab.

Next Stop - Abu Dhabi! As we already had a few days in Abu Dhabi to begin with, this will be a great chance to visit anything you didn’t get to see last time or go back & buy that piece of jewelry you have been dreaming about since you saw it all those weeks ago. And then finally, your last stop is Dubai. We don’t have any accommodation in our package currently included but that’s ok! We can always alter and personalise the package to add on anything on that you need! I would personally add a further 2-3 days in Dubai to explore the Dubai Mall for that last-chance shopping experience and view the incredible Aquarium & underwater Zoo and venture to the top of the Burj Khalifa to scare myself with the 55-meter view. Dubai is a great place to do a dessert Safari which can be done by 4WD, camels, Quad bikes and more. A fantastic assortment of Bedouin overnight experiences are also available for a bit of a different experience. Dubai offers an array of different experiences so even if you have done a stopover before there is generally something new to explore each time you visit! 

And finally, it’s the end of the epic adventure, taking advantage of the complimentary coach service pick up is at Mazaya Centre, located in the heart of Dubai and close to the city's major attractions. The journey to Abu Dhabi airport takes about 75 minutes. And we are on our way home!

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