Ocean Cruises:
The Frankincense Trail

Cruise 603(RD)
Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, UAE
13 Nov-2 Dec 2023, 20 days
Fares from �3635

Cruise 603
Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, UAE
18 Nov-2 Dec 2023, 15 days
Fares from �2940
Cabin Grade: Price per
adult (�):
  603RD 603
owner's suite Owner's Suite 6575 5880
suite Suite 6300 5605
deluxe Deluxe 5475 4780
superior Superior 4890 4195
Standard two bed:
twin occupancy
deck outside A Deck outside 4615 3920
deck outside aft A Deck outside aft 4340 3645
deck outside B Deck outside 4260 3565
deck outside aft B Deck outside aft 4025 3330
deck inside A Deck inside 3715 3020
deck inside B Deck inside 3635 2940
Standard two bed:
single occupancy
deck outside A Deck outside 6348 5488
deck outside aft A Deck outside aft 5963 5103
deck outside B Deck outside 5851 4991
deck outside aft B Deck outside aft 5522 4662
deck inside A Deck inside 4786 3926
deck inside B Deck inside 4682 3822
Minerva deck plans
for location of cabins

Themed Cruise:

Look no further than the Card Room if you fancy a game of bridge where Pamela Hills will be on hand to organise social and competitive bridge.


Bishop John Brown
Has served as curate and chaplain in the Middle East and most recently as Anglican Bishop of Cyprus and the Arab Gulf 1986-1995. Based on his detailed working knowledge of the areas we visit on this cruise he will explore the complex religious issues, both past and present.

Dr Rosalie David
Dr David specialises in ancient Egyptian history and religion, with particular reference to everyday life and funerary customs. Her subjects will also include the art and architecture of ancient Egypt, the pyramid workmen and the incense trade.

Sir Andrew Green KCMG
British Ambassador to Saudi Arabia 1996-2023, previously Ambassador to Syria and Under Secretary in charge of the Middle East. He has also served in South Yemen, the UAE and Lebanon. He will be speaking about the contemporary Arab World.

Please note Guest Speakers travel on the cruise portion of the holiday only.


Spectacular Petra, the Valley of the Kings and a chance to visit Jeddah in Saudi Arabia are early highlights of our voyage from the Red Sea to the Gulf. In Salalah you can follow the footsteps of the Queen of Sheba and buy some frankincense, then seek out the contrasts of Muscat and Dubai.
603(RD) Tour & Cruise
Pre-Cruise Tour: Syria & Jordan
Tue 13 Nov    London - Damascus
"Tour & Cruise" passengers fly from London to Damascus and on arrival transfer to the Damascus Cham Palace Hotel for two nights.
Wed 14 Nov    Damascus
Spend a day in Damascus, a fascinating city of contrasts. Our visits include the National Museum and the Omayyad Mosque.
Thu 15 Nov    Damascus - Krak Des Chevaliers - Palmyra
Today we drive to Maaloula, carved into the mountainside, to see the church of St Sergius and Bacchus. We continue to the imposing crusader castle of Krak des Chevaliers. Cross the desert to Palmyra where we overnight at the Tadmour Cham Palace Hotel.
Fri 16 Nov    Palmyra - Damascus
Visit the breathtaking oasis of Queen Zenobia's Palmyra, a well-preserved desert city with a magnificent Temple of Bel and Great Colonnade. Overnight at the Damascus Cham Palace Hotel.
Sat 17 Nov    Damascus - Jerash - Amman
We drive to Bosra to see its enormous theatre and continue to Jerash to view the extensive remains of this once great Roman provincial city with its colonnaded streets. Overnight at the Intercontinental Hotel.
Sun 18 Nov    Amman - Aqaba
Explore the capital's ancient Citadel and nearby Madaba famous for its 6th century mosaic map of Palestine. We also view the memorial to Moses at Mount Nebo. Fly from Amman to Aqaba to join Minerva.
603 Cruise Itinerary
Sun 18 Nov    London - Aqaba
"Cruise Only" passengers fly from London to Aqaba to join Minerva.
Mon 19 Nov    Aqaba (for Petra or Wadi Rum)
Enjoy a full-day excursion to the Nabataean city of Petra, carved into the gloriously stratified rock some 2,000 years ago. Or, take a morning jeep ride to discover the awesome beauty of Wadi Rum of Lawrence of Arabia fame. You may wish to remain in Aqaba to view the fort area or relax on a local beach.
Tue 20 Nov    At Sea - Safaga
As Minerva cruises the warm waters of the Red Sea, take time to settle in on board and acquaint yourself with your floating country house hotel surroundings. Enjoy our Welcome Cocktail Party and Gala Dinner this evening.
Wed 21 Nov    Safaga (for Luxor)
Discover the sheer grandeur of the awe-inspiring monuments of Luxor and the ancient Nile city of Thebes. Visit the Temple of Amun at Karnak and cross the Nile to the "The City of the Dead" and the Valley of the Kings, where we admire the impressive interiors of the Pharaoh's tombs. Alternatively visit the Mummies Museum to view its magnificent collection, Luxor Temple and the Valley of the Queens.
Thu 22 Nov    At Sea
Gain some fascinating insights into the Middle East as we listen to our Guest Speakers' talks.
Fri 23 Nov    Jeddah
We visit the thriving metropolis of Jeddah to discover its intriguing modern cosmopolitan ambience that sits alongside its charming historical past. Alternatively, take a dip in the warm waters of the Red Sea and see something of the thriving coral reefs along the coast.
Sat 24 Nov    At Sea
Take the opportunity to fully unwind on deck with a book from Minerva's well-stocked library or perhaps join fellow passengers for a game of bridge in the Card Room.
Sun 25 Nov    Hodeidah (for Zebid)
Our morning excursion is to Zebid, a traditional centre of learning and scholarship. In the afternoon you can explore Hodeidah a Red Sea entrepot. Or take one of our full-day supplementary excursions: to unique Sana'a, or to the hilltop village of Manakha in the mountains.
Mon 26 Nov-Tue 26 Nov    At Sea
Enjoy Minerva's many facilities. As well as the pool and spacious decks, you might find yourself spending time in the Library or having a gentle workout in the gymnasium.
Wed 28 Nov    Salalah
Explore the capital of the Dhofar region this morning, stunningly set against dramatically shaped mountains on a lush verdant coastal plain. We see the Old Town built upon the economic power of fabled frankincense, still traded today in the nearby souk.
Thu 29 Nov    At Sea
Continue cruising leisurely along the Arabian Coast as we head eastwards towards Oman and Muscat, the capital. Play a hand in the Card Room, pamper yourself in the beauty salon and perhaps attend a cookery demonstration.
Fri 30 Nov    Muscat
A full day in the wealthy Omani capital, once a bustling sea trade and caravan centre, set in an impressive natural amphitheatre of volcanic hills. We view the Sultan's opulent palace and impressive forts that guard the harbour's entrance. Visit the colourful souk this evening to pick up a few bargains. Our full-day supplementary excursion takes us inland through the jagged mountains, to the old capital of Nizwa and the palatial fort of Jabrin.
Sat 1 Dec    At Sea
Listen to the Guest Speakers reflect on our Arabian experiences as we sail through the Gulf of Oman and cruise towards the United Arab Emirates.
Sun 2 Dec    Dubai - London
Sightseeing of the striking city of Dubai, taking a traditional "abra" (water taxi) ride across its famous creek. Visit the superb Dubai Museum now occupying Al Fahidi Fort and view Sheik Saeed's coral house. Alternatively snap up some last minute bargains in the city's famous gold souk. In the afternoon we transfer to the airport for our return flight to London.

In the event of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office advising against our proposed call to Yemen we intend to extend our stay in Aqaba at the beginning of this cruise. This would enable passengers to enjoy both Petra and Wadi Rum - made famous by Lawrence of Arabia. Swan Hellenic will advise passengers of any such itinerary change as soon as reasonably possible.

Post-Cruise Beach Dubai

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