Aqaba

A pleasant and quite leisure destination
Coral reefs and golden dunes
The mystic and ancient city of Petra

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Aqaba/Petra

Following the footsteps of Lawrence of Arabia

When you disembark from your MSC cruise in Aquaba, you can enjoy its idyllic, sunny setting on the shores of the Red Sea, at the country’s southernmost tip.
 
From something of a dowdy backwater, in the last decade or so Aqaba has transformed itself into a pleasant, if still under-resourced, leisure destination. Hotels at all grades are springing up in the town as well as at luxury waterfront developments up and down the coast; investment is coming in to improve the city’s infrastructure and facilities. Some of the best diving and snorkelling in the world is centred on the unspoiled coral reefs that hug the coast just south of the town – an engaging contrast with the nearby desert attractions of Petra and Wadi Rum.

The city centre forms a dense network of streets and alleys clustered just behind the beach road (called the “Corniche”). A shore excursion on your MSC Grand Voyages cruise can also be the opportunity to discover Petra. Tucked away in a remote valley basin in the heart of southern Jordan’s Shara mountains and shielded from the outside world behind an impenetrable barrier of rock, Petra remains wreathed in mystery.

Since a Western adventurer stumbled on the site in 1812, it has fired imaginations, its grandeur and dramatic setting pushing it – like the Pyramids or the Taj Mahal – into the realms of legend. Today, it’s almost as if time has literally drawn a veil over the once-great city, which grew wealthy enough on the caravan trade to challenge the might of Rome: two millennia of wind and rain have blurred the sharp edges of its ornate classical facades and rubbed away at its soft sandstone to expose vivid bands of colour beneath, putting the whole scene into soft focus.

Must see places in Aqaba

Discover our excursions

4 results found

  • WADI RUM

    ACTIVE & ADVENTURE

    AQA02

    Leave the port for a 1-hour 15-minute drive to Wadi Rum and feel the romance of the Arabian Desert. In this timeless and beautiful valley rises Wadi Rum, amidst sand dunes that shimmer across the rose-red desert sand. The Wadi Rum area has been inhabited since prehistoric periods and geologists have found slabs of rock with inscriptions in early Tahamudic writings throughout the valley. After your arrival at Wadi Rum, you will board some 4wd vehicles for a two-hour drive through magnificent desert scenery. Your next stop will be a desert camp where you will enjoy Arabic tea in a traditional Bedouin tent. Return to the port. Please note: limited number of guides in languages other than English. Should a tour guide for your language be unavailable, the tour will be in English only. We recommend wearing comfortable, closed walking shoes, a hat, and a light jacket. This tour is not suitable for guests using a wheelchair.
    • Drink included

    • Limited seats

    • May involve a limited quantity of steps, uneven surfaces and/or periods of standing

      Difficulty Level
      Easy

    • Duration
      5 h

    • Adults£55.00Price per person

    • Children£42.00Price per person

  • PETRA

    CULTURE AND HISTORY

    AQA03

    If it’s rose-red in colour, situated in the middle of the Jordanian desert and reputed to be half as old as time itself, the destination of this all-day excursion can only be the amazing ancient city of Petra. Having lain hidden for centuries, Johann Ludwig Burckhardt, a Swiss explorer rediscovered this jewel of early engineering in 1812 and then unveiled it to the rest of the world. Situated about a 2-hour coach ride to the north of Aqaba, the city was hewn out of the solid rock by Nabatean Arabs more than 2,000 years ago and served as their capital city. These clever Arab architects even succeeded in bringing fresh water to their town using a sophisticated water conduit system, which turned the city into an artificial oasis. Your exploration of this UNESCO World Heritage Site begins with a walk through the narrow "siq", a stunning natural canyon that winds its way through towering rocks. As you emerge from the canyon, the bright daylight will reveal Petra in all its rose-hued glory. Carved into the cliff and rising several storeys high, the surprisingly well-preserved colonnaded structures have more than stood the test of time. The guided tour of the site will also include the large amphitheatre and the royal tombs. To cap off your incredible sightseeing tour of this ancient city, a delicious lunch is included in the excursion. The scenic return journey in the comfort of your air-conditioned coach will bring this fabulous outing to a leisurely close. Please note: as the guided part of tour involves approx. 5/6 km of walking on uneven ground, it is not suitable for guests with mobility problems. The availability of guides in languages other than English is limited. Should a tour guide be unavailable for your language, the tour will be in English only. We recommend wearing comfortable, closed walking shoes, a sunhat, sunscreen as well as a light, long-sleeved shirt.
    • Lunch or dinner included

    • May involve inclines, steps, uneven surfaces and/or extended periods of standing

      Difficulty Level
      Moderate

    • Duration
      9 h

    • Adults£129.00Price per person

    • Children£92.00Price per person

  • PETRA

    CULTURE AND HISTORY

    AQA04

    Located some way to the north of Aqaba in the middle of the Jordanian desert lies one of the most spectacular sights this world has to offer, the ancient city of Petra. Considered to be "one of the most precious ... properties of man’s cultural heritage" by the UNESCO council and declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985, the city is famed particularly for the rose-red hue of the rock out of which it was hewn by ancient Nabatean Arabs c. 312 B.C.. After leaving your ship and boarding an air-conditioned coach, the first leg of tour will take you on a roughly 2-hour drive through the scenic Jordanian landscape to reach the ancient city. A walk through the narrow "Siq", a shadowy ravine that carves its way through sheer walls of rock, then follows to reach Petra itself. Prepare for the big reveal as you come out of the ravine, when the sudden sunshine will illuminate the palatial pink city rising majestically out of the rock face. Incredibly, the sizeable ancient city, which once served as the capital of the Nabatean Arabs and even boasted a conduit system that gave the town potable water, lay hidden from the world for more than 1,000 years until it was finally rediscovered by a Swiss explorer in 1812. Your guided tour of the extremely well preserved site will also include visits to the Nabatean Theatre, temples, the royal tombs and time to enjoy your packed lunch. Please note: as the guided part of tour involves approx. 5/6 km of walking on uneven ground, it is not suitable for guests with walking difficulties. The availability of guides in languages other than English is limited. Should a tour guide be unavailable for your language, the tour will be in English only. You recommend wearing comfortable, closed walking shoes and a light jacket.
    • Lunch or dinner included

    • Active excursions recommended only for guests in good physical health

      Difficulty Level
      Strenuous

    • Duration
      8:30 h

    • Adults£119.00Price per person

    • Children£85.00Price per person

  • RELAX ON THE BEACH

    SEA & SUN

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    Situated on the shores of the Red Sea in the south of the country, the bustling resort of Aqaba is Jordan’s only seaport. A short 15-minute drive by modern coach will take you further south to a beach resort for some leisurely time off the ship. A drink will be served to welcome you at the club, after which a few hours will be yours to do whatever you please. Enjoy the resort amenities as you relax or swim in the pool or go for a refreshing dip in the Red Sea. This day of sun, sea and sand comes to a pleasant close with your return journey to the port and your ship. Please note: high-factor sunscreen recommended. This tour is subject to weather conditions.
    • Drink included

    • Lunch or dinner included

    • No guide available

    • Possibility of swimming

    • Wheelchair and disabled-friendly tour – Wheelchair guests must be accompanied by their own helper to get on/off the coach. Wheelchairs must be foldable as the coach is not provided with ramps or lifts. Once onboard, please contact Excursions Desk staff promptly so they can help make arrangements.

    • Limited seats

    • May involve a limited quantity of steps, uneven surfaces and/or periods of standing

      Difficulty Level
      Easy

    • Duration
      5:30 h

    • Adults£45.00Price per person

    • Children£32.00Price per person

The excursions in the programme above are intended to provide MSC Cruises guests with an idea of the different tours which can be arranged in each port of call; this programme is merely a guide and confirmation of each excursion and its description and prices will be made during your cruise. 
Shore excursions programmes and itineraries may vary depending on local conditions and/or any unforeseen events in relation to the timing on the day of the tour.
 
Some excursions are very popular and therefore availability cannot always be guaranteed, it is advisable to book in advance to avoid disappointment. The guides are guaranteed in English. Only for South America cruises, the guides are guaranteed in Brazilian Portuguese. Narration in other languages depends on the availability of guides. Please note that the final language of the tour will be confirmed on board during the cruise.

Jordan

A millenary culture
A millenary culture

A holiday to Jordan means “desert”, but this one plain word covers a multitude of scenes, from the dramatic red sands and towering cliffs of the far south to the vast stony plains of volcanic basalt in the east.

The northern hills, rich with olive trees, teeter over the rift of the Jordan Valley, which in turn runs down to the Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth. The centre of the country is carpeted with tranquil fields of wheat, cut through by expansive canyons and bordered by arid, craggy mountains.

At Jordan’s southernmost tip, beaches fringe the warm waters of the Red Sea, which harbours some of the most spectacular coral reefs in the world. Jordan is part of the land bridge linking Europe, Africa and Asia, and has seen countless armies come and go. Greeks, Romans, Muslims, Christian Crusaders and more have left evidence of their conquests, and there are literally thousands of archaeological sites from all periods in every corner of the country, waiting to be discovered during your MSC Mediterranean cruise to Jordan. And yet the country is far from being stuck in the past. Amman is a thoroughly modern Arab capital with a noteworthy economic and social dynamism.