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One way to do Muscat

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    One way to do Muscat

    Continuing my series of 'One way to do...' this one takes us to one of the more unusual places that one could
    say is 'off the beaten track'.

    We called at Muscat on Oceania Nautica in December 2012. Muscat is the Capital of Oman and as such is
    the seat of Government. One therefore expects Muscat to offer somewhat more than
    Salalah, our previous Oman port visit, a review of which can be found
    at...

    http://www.cruises.co.uk/699-u_e/33170-dont_write_salalah_off.html

    Every effort should be made to witness the ship's arrival in Muscat. The coastline leading to the harbour is
    in stark contrast to that seen when visiting other ports in the area, In
    addition there are some interesting views to be seen, including that of the
    Sultan of Oman's Palace...



    and this amazing landmark, a traditional incense burner, situated atop a mountain peak and one of the most
    visited sites in greater Muscat...




    The port of Muscat is a typical commercial port though it does have a cruise passenger terminal. The
    port authorities provide a free shuttle bus which will drop passengers, on
    request, at the port gate but will also take passengers along the Mutrah
    Corniche...



    as far as the Mutrah Souk....



    Having witnessed the arrival from the deck of Nautica my wife and I decided to initially walk to the 'Old Town' of Muscat, where indeed the Sultan's Palace and Oman Navy Headquarters are. Simple enough, we used the free shuttle bus then continued along the Corniche in the direction of the incense burner landmark, roughly
    following the coastline and taking in the many photographic opportunities such
    as this 16th Century Portuguese built fort...




    ...until we eventually approached the entrance gates to Old Muscat...





    The Old Town is a fascinating place, strategically positioned between two medieval Portuguese
    fortresses. We were able to view the Al Alam palace from both the seaward side...




    and the landward side..





    ...as well as taking in the approach to the Sultan's home...



    and the surrounding vistas...





    Next on our 'must see in Muscat' list was the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque. This was some distance from Old Muscat....
    Last edited by Solent Richard, Lee on the Solent; 28th December 2012, 04:05 PM.

    #2
    From the Old Town we took a taxi in order to visit the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque. There is also only limited times that the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque is open to the public. The taxi fare from Old Muscat with a return to the Mutrah Souk was a very reasonable $25.00.

    On arrival at the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque we found that very strict dress rules applied for those who actually wished to enter the mosque. Changing and loan clothing facilities were available, with most helpful staff in attendance to appraise the visitor of what was required...




    ...before we proceeded into the mosque...












    A truly amazing experience in a truly amazing building.

    We eventually returned to the Mutrah Corniche and Souk where we enjoyed a wander around the shops and stalls...







    as well as the Corniche architecture...







    Muscat is a great port to visit and it has a lot to offer. There is plenty to see and do and the locals are most friendly.

    I trust this thread has been of interest and may whet the appetite of those who may wish to cruise a little farther than the Mediterranean and Red Sea..
    Last edited by Solent Richard, Lee on the Solent; 28th December 2012, 04:04 PM.

    Comment


      #3
      Very helpful information. We will be in Muscat in January. Not planning on doing a ship's excursion so good to know it is easy to get around.

      Comment


        #4
        This is very different to our experience of Muscat five years or so ago! We were on one of the first cruises of the Costa weekly Emirates cruises and there were no shuttles then.....we were confronted by taxis at the port entrance and arranged with their 'boss' for a driver to take us around the town/city and show us the 'highlights' for 35 dollars.....off we went and after a while realised we were on the dual carriageway heading out of town...suddenly he could not understand English but did manage to tell us he was taking us to the Mosque....well I knew I would not be able to go in as I was not dressed appropriately but he still kept driving....we arrived and I bought a shawl to cover my head and shoulders....as I expected I was not allowed in as my ankles were on view!!!! So back in the taxi and we just demanded to go back to the ship/port ...he didn't understand but was heading in the right direction....so we just said keep going....he went through every back street you can imagine and eventually, after an hour or so, we got back to the port and we offered the 35 dollars.....NO he said 70 dollars !! 35 dollars was one way...we found the 'boss' to remonstrate with him and he said 'Oh give him the 70 dollars!' we refused and gave him 50 dollars which he threw on the back seat of the car so we just left it there and went back on board ....that was our total experience of Muscat as we both felt physically sick after the hassle and lost all interest in the place.

        So be warned and make sure your taxi driver at least speaks English ....perhaps show him a map of exactly where you would like to go....it does look a lovely place and we do hope to go again but it still makes me angry even five years later that we paid 50 dollars to drive to a Mosque where we couldn't look inside, and back!

        Comment


          #5
          Good afternoon Morris, St. Colomb.

          Sorry to hear that your Muscat experience didn't meet your expectations.

          The journey from the port gate at Mutrah to the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque was, to my best recollection, some 20 - 25 minutes of reasonably scenic driving...










          No prizes for guessing who was in the front seat.

          No passengers were allowed to walk through the port area, it was exceedingly busy as can be seen from this shot of Mein Schiff 2,berthed next to Nautica...




          The two smaller buses the far side of her gangway were the port provided shuttle buses. The coaches lined up were for tours as were the 4x4s in the foreground were for desert excursions.

          While I have no knowledge of what level of instructions and information are likely to be given to passengers on board Costa ships, the level of information passed down on Oceania's Nautica was incredibly good and very clear...

          .

          No matter what the cruise line though, how many times have we cruisers been told "agree your taxi price before setting off".
          [IMG][/IMG]

          Comment


            #6
            Thanks so much for your very helpful thread Richard. I called at Muscat on New Years Day this year, but just had a long stroll along the Corniche and back. It was nice to see your pictures and realise exactly what some of the things I'd seen were. I was on a Costa ship and as far as I could tell the shuttle buses were just dropping everyone at the port gates (or perhaps we were all daft and bot off there not realising we could have been taken further!)

            I shall be returning in March and wantnto see then old town, so again I appreciate all the information you provided. How much roughly did the taxi to the Mosque cost? You also mentioned that the dress code was strict. I'm female so if I was wearing full length trousers or skirt with a long sleeved shirt would that suffice? Presume I'd also need to have a scarf or shawl to cover my head? Presume it won't matter about footwear as I suspect I'll have to remove them?

            Final question, I've heard the fairly new Royal Opera House is worth seeing, did you happen to spot it on your visit or is it in a completely different location?

            Thanks.

            Comment


              #7
              Must do Muscat again"

              Fabulous photos Richard. We were in Muscat in April 2012 and I have to say it is an amazing place. Very pristine clean and so many nice sights to see. I bought a hat in the Souk. Wore it for Arabia night on QM2,

              Also got fabulous fabrics for dresses In the souk for $20 for 3 metres enough for an evening dress.
              Loved Muscat and will go again for sure.

              Comment


                #8
                No matter what the cruise line though, how many times have we cruisers been told "agree your taxi price before setting off".

                Hello Richard....of course we agreed the taxi price before we set off!!...but the driver wasn't going to stick to that and his answer was that he agreed a 'one way fare' which was a load of rubbish.....it did take approx half an hour to get there along that busy road and then an hour or so to return via every little back street he could find !! He was a rip off merchant good and proper !!!

                It was the early days of cruise ships visiting regularly and I think he was just out to make a bob or two.... at our expense!

                As for dress.... I had calf length trousers on and 3/4 sleeve shirt, as we had no intention of going to the Mosque, but with purchased shawl covering head and arms that wasn't enough for the woman on the door who was checking each person as they entered. Perhaps things are more relaxed now they are more used to tourists.
                Last edited by morris, st. columb; 28th December 2012, 06:23 PM.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Hi Richard,

                  Many thanks fabulous pictures and insights, not yet had the opportunity to visit, roll on retirement...our appetite is whetted!
                  Lancashire Cunarder

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Wow, MaggieM love the Hat & the dress....
                    I'm also seeking out colourful fabrics to have made up...
                    Lancashire Cunarder

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Great photos Richard. Thank you your reports are really interesting & very useful.
                      You're right Oceania do give good port details & do they have the details of the ports & photographs available on the TV on Regatta? We found it very useful on Marina.

                      Love that frock Maggie & the headdress! What a bargain getting fabric so cheap.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by Johnstone, Edinburgh View Post
                        Thanks so much for your very helpful thread Richard. I called at Muscat on New Years Day this year, but just had a long stroll along the Corniche and back. It was nice to see your pictures and realise exactly what some of the things I'd seen were. I was on a Costa ship and as far as I could tell the shuttle buses were just dropping everyone at the port gates (or perhaps we were all daft and bot off there not realising we could have been taken further!)

                        I shall be returning in March and wantnto see then old town, so again I appreciate all the information you provided. How much roughly did the taxi to the Mosque cost? You also mentioned that the dress code was strict. I'm female so if I was wearing full length trousers or skirt with a long sleeved shirt would that suffice? Presume I'd also need to have a scarf or shawl to cover my head? Presume it won't matter about footwear as I suspect I'll have to remove them?

                        Final question, I've heard the fairly new Royal Opera House is worth seeing, did you happen to spot it on your visit or is it in a completely different location?

                        Thanks.
                        'Final question, I've heard the fairly new Royal Opera House is worth seeing, did you happen to spot it on your visit or is it in a completely different location'?

                        Good morning Johnstone.

                        Certainly did spot the Royal Opera House...



                        Our taxi driver pointed it out to us, as he did other landmark buildings.It was approximately 5 minutes before the Grand Mosque so could be easily included if you were heading in that direction.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Thanks for the brilliant pics. Richard, been to Salalah but will definitely look forward to Muscat on a future cruise.
                          cheers, Gill

                          Comment


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