There are few places on the planet quite like Dubai. Big, brash and boisterous, this Middle Eastern metropolis is one of a kind and even the most seasoned traveller would struggle to name a destination that quite matches Dubai’s excess of luxury, glamour and sheer extravagance. With so much packed into Dubai, exploring the UAE city and tasting everything it has to offer in a few hours is simply impossible. That’s why so many people choose to begin their adventure with MSC Cruises from Dubai, taking their time to unpick the young city at their leisure over several days. However, here’s what you can get up to in just 24 hours...
Sights in Dubai
Dubai is home to the world’s tallest man-made structure: Burj Khalifa.
At 829.8 metres tall (or 2,722 ft), it has been the tallest building since it was completed in 2009 and it also holds many other world records. These include having more floors than any other building anywhere in the world, as well as boasting the highest occupied floor, highest outdoor observation, elevator with the longest travel distance and the tallest service elevator in the world.
Surely, you can’t pass up on the chance to have your photo taken next to such a remarkable building. Dancing at the foot of Burj Khalifa is the Dubai Fountain - an awe-inspiring water installation at the centre of downtown Dubai. Fittingly, it claims its own world record, boasting the world's largest choreographed fountain system with water streams skyrocketing as high as 150 metres. Even the most hardcore shopper would be overwhelmed by The Dubai Mall, which should be your next stop. With more than 1,200 shops and 150 restaurants, this mega mall is a retail colossus without compare, packing in an indoor theme park, ice rink, huge indoor waterfall, choreographed outdoor fountain and even an aquarium and underwater zoo.
If you’ve ever seen pictures of Dubai, you’re sure to have spotted Palm Jumeirah - the world’s largest artificial archipelago. This man-made palm-shaped island is home to some of Dubai’s most prestigious hotels, such as Waldorf Astoria, Fairmont and the iconic Atlantis, The Palm. Dubai can do humble too and Dubai Creek is the original site where the Bani Yas tribe first settled. Today, the area is home to the Dubai Museum, as well as the labyrinthine alleyways of the gold, spice and textile souks. You can enjoy a ride across the water on a traditional abra for just AED1 (19p) per ticket, making it easily the best value tourist attraction in the city. Finally, beachlovers should head to Kite Beach - a vibrant stretch of sand that is popular with kitesurfers (hence the name) and fans of watersports. These are just a few of the sights you can enjoy on a Dubai Cruise!
What is the Food in Dubai like?
The food in Dubai is unlike anything you’ll have tried elsewhere and the region is packed with amazing eateries so prepare to treat your taste buds.
Ever wanted to eat a camel? In Dubai, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to do just that because it’s a very common and popular dish out here. There are so many camels in the region so the meat is inexpensive and if you’re on a budget, tucking into camel regularly will save you some cash.
Try stuffed camel if you get the chance. This involves roasting a whole camel packed with herbs and spices. The meat is said to be rich and tender - it sounds so delicious that it warrants a trip to Dubai alone just to sample it!
Alternatively, Dubai’s local street food is rich in taste and low in price, compared to some of the restaurants at least. Don’t be shy about haggling either, it’s part of the culture - just make sure you don’t come across as too pushy or your rudeness could diddle yourself out of any discount that was coming your way.
Shawarma is one authentic Emirati dish worth trying. Consisting of spicy meat, packed in a wrap, it’s Dubai’s equivalent of fast food and it’s delicious. Blob on some extra mint sauce and salad if you want to keep a lid on the heat.
If the idea of roasted camel turns your stomach and spicy food isn’t your thing then there’s no shortage of international restaurants and conventional takeaways you’ll be used to from back home.
Also, if you relish a bacon butty first thing in the morning, you’ll have to do without during your time in Dubai because this is a Muslim city.
As such, you’ll find no pork dishes on the menus of any major restaurant. Lamb, beef and chicken are all widely available though so meat-eaters won’t starve.
Excursions on your Dubai Cruise
As if the city itself doesn’t have enough to keep you busy, there’s the option to book on to one of MSC Cruises’ myriad excursions.
Whether you’re keen to brave Arabia’s golden sands as part of a desert dune adventure, admire Dubai’s beauty from the air in a hydroplane or prefer the safety of a city tour, there is sure to be at least one excursion that takes your fancy. MSC Cruises lays on various guide-led tours of many parts of Dubai, meaning you can experience any area of the city with the assurance you’ll find your way back to base. MSC’s well-informed guides will feed you the most interesting facts of any given area too.
The New Wonders of Dubai tour is an easy four-hour trip that will tick off many of the city’s most remarkable landmarks, such as the Burj Al Arab Hotel - the world’s only seven-star hotel (albeit self-proclaimed) - as well as the magnificent man-made Palm Jumeirah islands. This excursion also covers the Dubai Marina - the largest man-made marina in the world.
How does an off-road adventure into the Arabian Desert sound? With the Arabian Desert Night & Abu Dhabi City Tour, you can do just that. This 21-hour excursion sees you ride in a 4x4 vehicle across the desert towards the luxurious Bab Al Shams Desert Resort & Spa, with a stop-off on the way for you to savour the sunset. After that, you’ll head to an Arabic oasis fort to enjoy an exclusive evening of authentic Middle Eastern cuisine, live music and dancing, capping off the evening with a fascinating camel and equestrian show.