Day 1: Australia – – Dubai
Depart Australia today on your flight to Dubai. On arrival, make your own way to your central hotel accommodation.
Please note: Some flights may depart 1 day earlier
Day 2: Dubai (D)
Today, the morning is free to explore this desert city. Modern Dubai begins in spectacular style with Sheikh Zayed Road, home to a neck-cricking array of skyscrapers including the glittering Emirates Towers. Even these, however, are outshone by the massive Downtown Dubai development at the southern end of the strip, centred on the stupendous new Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, flanked by further record-breaking attractions including the gargantuan Dubai Mall and spectacular Dubai Fountain.
At the appropriate time make your way to the port of Dubai for your cruise check-in.
Day 3: Abu Dhabi, UAE (B,L,D)
The United Arab Emirates’ capital, Abu Dhabi, where your MSC cruise ship awaits your return, offers an intriguing contrast to its freewheeling neighbour Dubai, a little over an hour’s drive down the coast. Leading attractions include the extravagant Emirates Palace hotel and the even more spectacular Sheikh Zayed Mosque, while the various attractions of Yas Island, home to the vast Ferrari World theme park, lie just down the road.
Day 4: Sir Bani Yas Island, UAE (B,L,D)
On Sir Bani Yas, just like on the islands of Dalma and the six nearby Discovery Islands, an enormous nature reserve has been designated to species in danger of extinction, be they from the Arabic peninsula or from Africa. You can explore a one-of-a-kind island destination. Go horse riding or jeep riding; take your time at wildlife watching hides, then settle down on a traditional dhow for a mini cruise. On Sir Bani Yas, everyone can enjoy the beach experience of their dreams or experience a safari like no other between the mangroves, the desert and the protected bay areas.
Day 5: At Sea (B,L,D)
This day is yours to do as much or as little as you like on board your ship.
Day 6: Muscat, Oman (B,L,D)
Stepping ashore in Oman’s capital Muscat means stepping into one of the oldest cities of the Middle East. This is where incense was shipped to Greece and Rome as far back as the 2nd century. Today it is still possible to find traces of its glorious past in the old centre where, until the latter part of the past century, the gates that separated the various quarters would be closed three hours after dawn. Muttrah, the historic centre of trade and activity of the capital that you will see during the cruise, is one of the most intriguing and well preserved parts of the town centre.
Day 7: Khor al Fakkan, UAE (B,L,D)
The main sight in town is the photogenic Fujairah Fort, off Madhab Road on the northern edge of the city centre. Dating back to the sixteenth century, this is the most picture-perfect of the United Arab Emirates’s many forts, set atop a large plinth and with high, bare walls rising to a pretty cluster of towers and battlements, dramatically framed by an outcrop of the Hajar Mountains.
Day 8: Dubai, UAE (B,L,D)
Welcome back to Dubai. Today your ship is ported back in Dubai allowing you to explore parts of the city you may have missed on your first day.
Day 9: Dubai (B)
Today, disembark from your deluxe MSC ship and make your way back to your hotel. On arrival the rest of the day is at leisure.
Day 10: Dubai – – Delhi
At the appropriate time, make your way to the airport for your flight to Delhi. You will arrive at New Delhi International Airport. Following customs, immigration formalities and baggage collection, a Webjet representative will meet you as you exit the arrivals hall.
India’s capital and a major gateway to the country, contemporary Delhi is a bustling metropolis, which successfully combines in its folds – the ancient with the modern. Amidst the fast spiralling skyscrapers, the remnants of a bygone time, in the form of its many monuments, stand as silent reminders to the region’s ancient legacy. Delhi is a food-lovers haven and has something to please every palate. There is an unlimited variety available across cuisines, across price-brackets and across experiences – from street food of North India to International cuisine and from road-side dhabas to finedining – Delhi has it all.
Day 11: Delhi (B,D)
Today we head out on a full day to explore Delhi. Begin your day with a guided tour of the Old City of ‘Shahjahanabad’. Your introduction to the city will start with a visit to Raj Ghat – the cremation site of Mahatma Gandhi, drive past the Red Fort—the magical monument in red sandstone built at the pinnacle of the Mughal Empire. From here proceed by bicycle rickshaws through the bustling streets to Jama Masjid, the largest mosque in Asia built by Shahjahan.
Continue on a guided tour of New Delhi, which reflects the legacy the British left behind. You will visit Qutab Minar, the tallest stone tower in India built to establish the might of Islam and onset of Muslim rule in India and Humayun’s tomb, the first great example of a new distinctive style, which developed to become the hallmark of the Mughal Dynasty. We also drive past the imposing India Gate, the Parliament buildings and the Rashtrapati Bhawan (the President’s residence) before returning to the hotel. Tonight, get to know your fellow travellers with a welcome dinner.
Day 12: Delhi – Jaipur (B)
In the morning after breakfast we disembark for Jaipur. Jaipur, one of the most enticing places in India, is nestled between mighty forts and the rugged Aravalli Hills. It is known as ‘the pink city’ as its prominent buildings are washed in this colour. Founded by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh in 1727, Jaipur is steeped in Rajput history and is characterised by sites such as the City Palace with its astronomical Observatory, Hawa Mahal and the beautiful Amber Fort. Jaipur is a bustling capital city and a business centre with all the trappings of a modern metropolis yet flavoured strongly with an age-old charm that never fails to surprise a traveller. On arrival the rest of the afternoon is free to explore this incredible city at your own pace.
Optional Tour: Interaction followed by Dinner with Indian Family—Familiarise yourself with the climatic, cultural and historical influences that make India so diverse. Experience culinary delights, savour the tantalizing flavours and bask in a blend of aromas of Indian cuisine. Celebrate the love of food and listen to secrets from your hosts who are highly inspired from the rich traditions and exuberant hospitality that India is famous for!
Day 13: Jaipur (B)
An exciting day awaits you as begin your sightseeing tour with a photo visit at the Hawa Mahal (Palace of Winds) – a five-storied wonder with a spectacular pyramidal facade and overhanging windows with latticed screens, domes and spires. Continue your tour as you drive to the ancient capital of Amer to see the fabulous Amber Fort, situated on a ridge just outside Jaipur city, surrounded by fortified battlements. Maharaja Mansingh, Mughal Emperor Akbar’s most successful General, started the construction of Amber Fort in the 17th century. Before the City Palace was constructed in Jaipur, Amber was the seat of power. The fort is surrounded by fortified battlements and overlooks the Moat Lake. Ruins and remains are spread over the Aravalli hills and sprawling crenellated walls lattice the surrounding area.
At the foot of the hill you will be taken on the jeep up to the main gate. Tour the chambers and hallways of the palace, famous for the excellence of its design and decoration. Within the complex is Ganesh Pol, an imposing gateway painted with the images of the elephantheaded god, Ganesh. The merging of Rajput and Mughal architectural styles is captured in the Sukh Niwas and Jas Mandir apartments, and the Charbagh garden with its perfectly proportioned landscaping. Pierced screen windows offer views from different vantage points and shimmering mirrors encrust the walls of Sheesh Mahal.
Optional Tour: Elephant Trek followed by Lunch Experience a unique and interesting insight into rural Rajasthan as you drive through the countryside to the starting point of your trek. Beautifully decorated elephants await the arrival of the guests and the safari commences as the elephant and his well-dressed mahout salute the guests. You will be taken through a series of farms and fields and a few quiet villages tucked away in the countryside. Following which, a sumptuous lunch awaits amidst the rustic environs.
This afternoon, enjoy a tour of the Pink City, an “abode of rajahs”. The highlights of the tour include a visit to the City Palace Museum, which has a superb collection of Rajasthani costumes, and armory of Mughals and Rajputs including swords of different shapes and sizes with chiseled handles. Many antiques and artifacts belonging to the ruling family are housed here, including a collection of weaponry. It also has an art gallery with an excellent collection of miniature paintings, carpets, royal paraphernalia and rare astronomical works in Arabic, Persian, Latin and Sanskrit. Proceed to the aweinspiring Jantar Mantar Observatory, a stone astrological and astronomical Observatory built by Maharaja Jai Singh in the 18th century. Later, enjoy a rickshaw ride through the narrow bylanes of the colorful bazaars. The rest of the evening it at leisure.
Day 14: Jaipur—Agra (B)
After breakfast, we head to the Mughal city of Agra en-route visiting Akbar’s abandoned capital, Fatehpur Sikri. Located 40 km from Agra, Fatehpur Sikri was built by Mughal emperor Akbar in 1571 in honour of the Sufi saint, Sheikh Salim Chisti. It was the Mughal capital for 14 years after which it was abandoned due to paucity of water. It is made of red sandstone and combines influences from both Hindu and Mughal architecture. Even to this day, the entrance to the fort is through the road that Akbar built which leads to the Buland Darwaza, a huge 54 metres gateway. Other inspiring monuments in Fatehpur Sikri are the Hiran Minar that Akbar built in memory of his favourite elephant, Tomb of Sheikh Salim.
Later, head out on a sightseeing tour of Agra Fort. An outstanding example of Mughal architecture and the seat and stronghold of the Mughal Empire under successive generations. Shah Jahan, the Taj’s creator, spent the last years of his life imprisoned at the fort by his son Aurangzeb. It was built in the late 1560`s by their predecessor, Akbar, with later embellishments by Jehangir, his son, and Shah Jahan, his grandson.
Day 15: Agra—Delhi (B)
This morning we head out for the big one! The Taj Mahal, for a spectacle not to be missed— a sunrise visit to the legendary Taj Mahal, built by Emperor Shah Jahan in the 17th century as a mausoleum for his wife Mumtaz Mahal, a masterpiece in marble and one of the world’s most famous landmarks. As the sun sets, a chaste and secretive image of the Taj starts to emerge, casting a very soft light illuminating the contours of this enchanting monument in marble. Referred to as one of the wonders of the world, the Taj Mahal in Agra is the epitome of tourism in India and is celebrated for its architectural magnificence and aesthetic beauty. There is plenty of time to explore the grounds of the Taj Mahal gardens before returning to the hotel for breakfast. Post breakfast we make our way back to Delhi.
Day 16: Delhi – – Australia (B)
After breakfast, the day is at leisure. Later, you will be met at your hotel by a Webjet representative and assisted with your transfer to the international airport for your homeward flight.
Day 17: Australia
Arrive home today