One Way to do Muscat

While cruising on board Oceania Nautica we made a scheduled call to the port of Muscat. This was the very first occasion we had visited  Muscat which  is the Capital of Oman and, as such,  the seat of its Government.

Firstly I would recommend that every effort should be made to witness the ship’s arrival in Muscat.

The immediate coastline leading to the harbour is  in stark contrast to that seen when visiting other ports in the area and one of those interesting views includes one of the Sultan of Oman’s Palace…

…and another this amazing landmark, a traditional incense burner, sat atop a mountain peak and renowned as 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, either at the port gate or a point further  along the Mutrah  Corniche

…pretty close to the  Mutrah Souq….

More about the Souq later because our aim was to visit ‘Old Muscat’ district, which we had effectively sailed past on our arrival.

The ‘Old Town’ of Muscat, boasts a Sultan’s Palace, three old Portuguese Forts, the  Headquarters of the Omani Navy and a number of Government buildings.

Having disembarked the shuttle bus at the Souq we continued to follow the Corniche in the direction of ‘the Incense Burner mentioned earlier, a route which took us under the first of the  16th Century Portuguese built forts that we would encounter on this visit…

Continuing along the extended Corniche towards the entrance of the harbour we could look across at our ship and another visiting cruise ship, Mein Schiff 2…

The road arcs around and it was not very long before we came to what is known as ‘Muscat Gate’, the entrance to Old Muscat…

Muscat Gate also houses a Museum which contains displays about Oman’s history from the Neolithic times to the present.

Once in Old Muscat we again easily found the waterfront in the vicinity of the Sultan’s Palace and this inlet that we had observed on our early morning entry to Muscat. On the shores of this inlet are three old Portuguese Forts, the Headquarters of the Omani Navy and the Palace of the Sultan…

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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, having circumnavigated the Palace walls,  the official entrance

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which is centered within a complex of numerous government buildings

Following a short break for some non-alcoholic liquid refreshment we  decided that our next  ‘must see’ in Muscat,  the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque would be our priority. The Mosque is some distance from Old Muscat so we rather prudently opted for a taxi ride….

A journey time of around about some 20 minutes which took us past the Royal Muscat Opera House…

…and this fitting memorial to remind us that it’s really all about oil…

Eventually arriving at the Sultan QaboosGrand Mosque…

…where the ladies were required to ‘cover’ up…

It was obvious that a number of ladies had arrived unprepared. This was not a problem and suitable garments were available for ‘loan’ just for that purpose.Being an organised chap I’d brought my own covering…

We spent around about an hour exploring the Mosque which really is quite amazing…

particularly as this carpet is the second largest single piece carpet in the world

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Having completed our tour of the Grand Mosque our taxi driver returned us to the Mutrah Corniche where we took the opportunity to view some of the older architecture that still remains…

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…before finding that we had just enough time for a quick walk around the Mutrah Souq

and some of the artifacts it had to offer…

Again, very conveniently, the shuttle bus service awaited us near the Souk entrance and transported us back to Nautica.

All in all this had been an excellent day in Muscat and we certainly achieved everything that we had planned:  plus a little more.

For those who have mobility difficulties I would suggest that this kind of itinerary could easily be done for a reasonable price by taxi: but do make clear what you are agreeing to before setting off and remember that if you choose for the taxi to wait at the Mosque then there will be a charge.

Footnote: For those that must there is a more than adequate Internet Café with Wifi on the Corniche: very close to the Souq…

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