/ The Cruise Traveler
Cruise — By Liz Lewis on June 21, 2010 at 7:52 am
Filed under: cruise travel, featuredarticle, middle east, Oman

Dawn Princess World Cruise Port of Call: Muscat, Oman

A historic port and legendary trading center of the Near East, connecting Europe and Asia since the days of Pliny the Elder, Muscat (map) is a city straight out of the Arabian Nights.

Entering Mina Sultan Qaboos, Muscat’s main trading port, the first thing cruise travelers l see are two historic 16th century fortresses that once guarded the city from invaders. No longer needed to protect the city, these fortresses now serve as tourist attractions and  frequently feature as a backdrop in  photographs.

Between the old fortresses sits the modern Al Alam Palace (map) the official residence of Sultan Qaboos bin Said. Blending classical and contemporary Islamic architecture, the palace highlights Muscat’s efforts to combine old and new.

Actually, this amalgamation of old and new is prevalent throughout Muscat.

On a hill overlooking the city and the sea, Riyam Park (map) features an enormous incense burner shaped watchtower. And like many Middle Eastern cities, Muscat has turned it’s numerous beautifully landscaped roundabout into outdoor art galleries statues of animals and giant reproductions of traditional Omani artefacts such as incense burners, coffee pots, and ceremonial daggers.

Meanwhile, the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque (map), completed in 1999, stands as a symbol of contemporary Oman and reminds visitors that this is a Islamic country.

Strolling along the corniche, with a sidetrack through the fish market and the vibrant and maze-like Mutrah Souk where vendors still sell frankincense and myrrh, it’s easy to picture earlier times when Roman merchants and Indian traders mingled in the city’s streets and markets.

But with Muscat stretched out over 40 kilometers between sea and mountains, one of  the best way to see Muscat is by taking a cruise in a traditional Arab dhow.

Muscat is a perfect cruise ship destination. But you really need more than half a day to really explore all this city has to offer.

(Photo Credits: Liz Lewis)

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Tags: cruise travel, featuredarticle, middle east, Oman

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