Five boat tours to take in Dubai: from breakfast on a pirate ship to dinner on a dhow

These sailing trips are great for the whole family

Dubai, United Arab Emirates - A view of the dhow cruise at the gathering of of Abu Dhabi Big Ticket winners at Alexandra Dhow Cruise, Dubai Marina.  Leslie Pableo for The National for Sarwat Nasir's story
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One of the best aspects of living in Dubai is that you're never that far from the ocean, and sailing trips are commonplace.

While there are dozens of companies offering boat rental services, there are also tour operators that host sightseeing packages and sea experiences that can be booked any time of year, whether you've got visitors staying or you're simply looking for something novel to do with the family during a weekend or break.

Here are five options for watery excursions that are worth trying.

1. Black Pearl Sightseeing Cruise

Black Pearl Sightseeing Cruise offers tours across Dubai operated by Tour Dubai. Courtesy Mondoux

Perfect for people with children, the Black Pearl Sightseeing Cruise is modelled on the hit film series Pirates of the Caribbean and operator Tour Dubai offers a range of onboard experiences. The one-hour sightseeing tour, for example, takes you from Dubai Creek Harbour during the day, through the mangroves, passing by the flamingos at Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary, and then along the Dubai Canal before returning to port. This costs Dh39 for adults (over age 12) and Dh29 for children (under 12), excluding VAT.

Most recently, Mondoux, a European-inspired restaurant and cafe in Dubai Creek Harbour, has partnered up to offer breakfast and lunch packages aboard the pirate-themed ship that include the sightseeing tour, meal and open-sea swimming, depending on which one you go for. These cost Dh199 and Dh140 respectively, for those over the age of 4 (younger children go for free), excluding tax.

2. Xclusive Yachts

This one is particularly great if you're new to Dubai or have visitors staying with you. Xclusive Yachts tours start in Dubai Marina, by Pier 7 at Dubai Marina Mall, and, over the course of 90 minutes, take you around Palm Jumeirah, passing by the Burj Al Arab and Atlantis, The Palm, to Ain Dubai and Jumeirah Beach Residence.

There are a number of options to choose from, including yacht and speedboat tours, as well as Marina dinner cruises. They also offer private charters.

Standard tours are available to book online via the website, with between four and seven departure times per day, starting from 11am, with prices at Dh100 for adults and Dh80 for children.

3. The Yellow Boats

One of the most famous operators for boat cruises is The Yellow Boats, which has historically offered popular tours across Dubai and Abu Dhabi in its distinctive yellow speedboats. At the moment, only the Dubai services are operating, with the capital's itinerary scheduled to make a comeback soon.

Tours span 45 to 99 minutes, with a one-hour option taking you around Dubai Marina in the evening, while the premium tour goes from the Marina to Ain Dubai, around Palm Jumeirah, Atlantis, The Palm and Burj Al Arab, before heading back along the royal palaces and Palm Lagoon.

Prices start from Dh142 per person, and tickets can be booked via the website. There's also the option to book a private charter.

4. Go Fishing Dubai

Almost 90 per cent of Go Fishing tours' guests are new to fishing in Dubai, according to its website, and so guides are on hand to provide assistance if needed. It's important to note, however, the company is only hosting private sessions, not shared group trips, at the moment.

Fishing trips include bait, gear, safety equipment, drinks and snacks, and they use a 35-foot Triton that has a toilet and semi-shaded area.

Anyone over the age of 3 is allowed on board, although trips are not recommended for pregnant women.

There are a variety of packages to book, including a five-hour experience for a maximum of six guests with Address Dubai Marina, where you cook your catch (there are also non-fish items provided).

The basic fishing package, meanwhile, is four hours and recommended for beginners or those with children, where guests try some light tackle fishing, and you can opt to take sightseeing routes.

Prices are on request.

5. Alexandra Dhow Cruise

One of the perennial must-dos while in Dubai is to take a dinner cruise on a traditional dhow. The Alexandra floating restaurant has been operating in Dubai Marina since 2008 and receives high ratings across the board.

The cruise runs from 9pm to 10.45pm daily, offering nighttime views of the Marina, JBR and Bluewaters Island. It costs Dh160 per adult, Dh100 per child (aged 5 to 11) and it's free for those under 5.

Dinner and soft drinks are included, and you can add Dh100 for unlimited house beverages and Dh200 for a private two-way transfer. The meal includes salad, starters, a main course and dessert.

While dinner would famously be accompanied with live music and a tanoura dance, because of Covid-19 regulations in the UAE, these are currently on hold.


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