Day 25: Salalah, Oman with Holland America

Sharing is caring!

Mughsail Beach

Day 25: Salalah, Oman with Holland America

Holland America Africa Explorer Cruise – 49 Days from Rotterdam to Cape Town

Date: Tuesday October 21, 2014

Weather Forecast: Sunny; 31 C/89 F

In Port: 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM

All Aboard: 4:30 PM

Dress Code: Smart Casual

Location Information:

Oman is a very conservative Muslim country where women are oppressed. We were advised that it was necessary to cover from head to foot, especially in Salalah, and that women would not be treated with respect by men – and to be especially wary of the taxi drivers that will take tourists for a ride and insist on being paid more before letting you out or returning you to the ship. Lovely!

This is the note we received about Clothing & Restrictions:

As per local authorities in Oman, alcoholic drinks and fresh foods are prohibited to be brought ashore. Books, magazines, printed matter and video cassettes are subject to censorship. Visitors are required to observe “No Photography” signs. It is not allowed to wear beachwear, tank tops and sleeveless shirts in public places. Shorts and skirts should be below the knee.

Interesting Facts:

  • The main industry in Oman is oil and natural gas.
  • The areas we visited were very clean and banana and coconut palm trees grew abundantly around the city of Salalah.
  • Friday and Saturday are the weekend in Oman
  • The country has a population of approximately 3.5 million.
  • Healthcare is free for all citizens.
  • The coastline of Oman is 3165 km long.

Port Shuttle Service:

A complimentary shuttle service was provided by the port of Salalah to the port gates. The service began at 8:00 AM and ran continuously throughout the day. Taxis waited at the port gates to take passengers to various destinations – haggle hard and be prepared to walk away.

WJs Day:

After such long excursions in Israel, Egypt and Jordan (9-15 hours), we decided not to take any more that are longer than 5 hours. So with that in mind we picked a Holland America Line shore excursion to get around Salalah – Leisurely Salalah: 4.25 hours, US$54.95.

Excursion Description: Enjoy a leisurely and scenic drive of the area. Visit the Tomb of Job, the long-suffering biblical hero admired by Muslims, Jews and Christians worldwide. Drive to Mughsail Beach and tide permitting only witness the sprays gushing from the natural blowholes. There is also a shopping stop at the frankincense market. Note: Tourism infrastructure is limited. Guides are not trained and have heavy accents. Open your mind, and embrace a different culture!

Boarding Card for Oman

Our Salalah excursion bus departed from ms Rotterdam at 8:30 AM (we were in group White 4) with a young guide, Mohammed, with a heavy accent. Our first stop (10 minutes) to take photos of the Palace wall was 20 minutes later.

Walls of Sultan's Palace in Salalah, Oman

Then it was a quick drive for a few minutes until we reached the souk – where we had 40 minutes to shop in one store (the shops and stalls don’t open until 10:00 AM).

Store Selling Frankincense in Salalah


By 9:40 AM we were back on the bus and after a 5-minute drive arrived at a banana and coconut stand where we all had a fresh coconut drink.

Drinking from a coconut

Next we were off on a 30-minute drive into the countryside and up to the top of a mountain to see the Tomb of Job. There were camels roaming free alongside and in the middle of the roads – they are marked with the number of their tribe for identification. From 10:30 AM to 11:00 AM our group and 2 other buses full of Holland America passengers. Here everyone had to remove their shoes and women covered their head with a scarf to enter the tomb.

Camel on the road in Oman

Prophet Job's Tomb

Job's Tomb

Returning to the bus we had a 55-minute drive out along the main road that goes to Yemen (160 km away) to see a frankincense tree. Here Mohammed explained the 4 types of frankincense and various degrees of quality. Who knew that the male tree grows vertically and has a thicker trunk than the female tree?

Guide Mohammed shows us a frankincense tree

Excursion Bus on Road to Yemen

At 12:05 PM we were back on the bus and drove for 10 minutes to reach Mughsail Beach. The beach was fine silver sand and the ocean a gorgeous turquoise color. We had 25 minutes at Mughsail Beach (no blowhole action as the tide was now out) before arriving back at the ship by 12:40 PM.

Fine Silver Sand at Mughsail Beach

No Blowhole Today

It turned out that we drew the short straw and were on a bus that visited the market before it opened (arriving at 9:05 AM when the market opens at 10:00 AM), plus we visited Mughsail Beach at noon (after the tide went out and the blowhole had blown). So, this was a bit of a bust of a tour for us – but when we inquired with the shore excursion desk about why some buses went to in a direction that allowed them to witness the market being open and the blowhole blowing, we were told nobody else had commented to them about it. That may be so, but there were plenty on our bus that commented to everyone else. But, we guess the fact that we didn’t need to haggle with ruthless taxi drivers (some passengers making independent tours with taxis ran into problems) should make us content with what we did.

Visiting the Souk in Salalah

Entertainment tonight in the Showroom at Sea was IRIS – featuring the Rotterdam Singers & Dancers.

Next – At Sea Sailing Towards Muscat, Oman

Sharing is caring!

Leave a Reply