Middle East

The Middle East

The Middle East is a veritable treasure trove of ancient sites, bustling bazaars and the occasional sun-kissed beach. Take a river cruise down Egypt's Suez Canal, visit the lost city of Petra in Jordan or tour the holy sites of Israel on a journey to some of the world's most fascinating destinations. The array of unique experiences on offer will surprise even the most seasoned of traveller.

Set sail on a trip to the multifaceted Middle East by booking a cruise to these fascinating lands today.

Destination Overview

Encompassing the majority of Western Asia, The Middle East covers an expanse of some eight million square kilometres and traditionally includes 18 very different countries. Comprised of a wide variety of physical landscapes, the arid deserts of the region's interior limit most settlements to the Mediterranean coastline, with big cities and small towns alike strung out along the coast from Cairo to Beirut.

Although many languages are spoken throughout the Middle East, the vast majority of inhabitants speak variants of Arabic, Persian, Turkish, a Berber dialect or Kurdish.

  • Currency - Egyptian Pound (EGP), Jordanian Dinar (JOD), Israeli Shekel (ILS), Turkish Lira (TRY), United Arab Emirates Dirham (AED), Qatari Riyal (QAR) and others
  • Population - Approx. 396 million
  • Time Zones - UTC+2, UTC+3, UTC+3.5, UTC+4

Did you know..?

That Turkey, with its larger part lying in Western Asia and smaller in Southeastern Europe, is one of the world's few transcontinental countries and the only nation in the Middle East to lie in both Europe and Asia.

Who goes there?

Most cruise itineraries that visit the Middle East are luxury or small ship cruise operators such as Silversea Cruises, Azamara, Oceania Cruises, Seabourn, Voyages of Discovery, Swan Hellenic and Windstar Cruises.

However, big-ship cruise lines such as Costa, MSC and Royal Caribbean also offer limited itineraries to the area.

Best time to go?

Most cruise operators visit the Middle East between October and April, when the days are warm to hot and the nights are cooler. Temperatures range from 14 degrees to 30 degrees Celsius, making for a comfortable trip to a region which can get uncomfortably warm in summer.


The Middle East is a melting pot of cultures, cuisines and ever-changing landscapes and not surprisingly, there are plenty of highlights to take in.

  • Boasting an idyllic Arabian Sea setting, the Omani capital Muscat is home to many of the country's most famous landmarks, including the spectacular Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque
  • One of the world's most popular tourism destinations, Istanbul in Turkey truly encompasses the best of both worlds, straddling both Europe and Asia through its busy Bosphorus Strait
  • With many Middle East cruise itineraries including a trip down the Suez Canal, it's a great way to explore one of Egypt's most vital pieces of infrastructure and famous tourist attractions.

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