On the water
From its historic central creek to the manmade islands of the Persian Gulf, Dubai is a great city to explore by boat. In true Dubai style, the options extend from traditional water taxis and ferries to 110-foot yachts, on which you could throw your own private party with our iconic skyline as a backdrop.
Admire Dubai’s glittering skyline aboard a boat
With the Arabian Gulf lapping at our shores and the Dubai Creek snaking its way through our city’s nerve centre, there are plenty of opportunities to explore Dubai on a cruise.
Dinner cruises along Dubai Creek
One of the quintessential ways to discover the city, a dinner cruise along the Dubai Creek is a must-do for visitors. Long wooden dhow-style boats, gaily lit up with fairy lights, gently glide along the narrow creek on this two-hour excursion. These pleasure cruises typically include a traditional Arabic dinner, and in some cases, entertainment too. Departure is usually at 8pm, from the Bur Dubai side of the creek which is lined with vessel after vessel – most tour operators, such as Lama Tours, have similar offerings starting at around AED150 per person.
If you want a more luxurious experience, then look no further than Bateaux Dubai. Run by hotel chain JA Resorts & Hotels, this glass-walled, air-conditioned cruiser is an elegant alternative to the standard dhow cruises, with a gourmet four-course European-style dinner, beverages, and live entertainment on offer. The food is excellent, and the photo-ops unparalleled. Bateaux Dubai departs from the Deira side of the Creek, prices from AED295 per person.
Celebrate in style on the Marina
If you’ve got a big group and deep enough pockets, then there are plenty of party boats available for hire at Dubai Marina that head out into the ocean to offer stunning views of Palm Jumeirah, Burj al Arab and beyond. Tailored tours can be organised with catering, DJs and snorkelling stop-offs included. Boat sizes vary, ranging from seven people to luxury yachts that can host hundreds, with prices starting from as little as AED1000. Xclusive Yachts is a leading operator, with a range of boats available. For those travelling solo or in a small group, partying on the Marina isn’t entirely ruled out – pre-scheduled cruises are also available most weekends (except in the summer months). Party Cruise Dubai’s sunset catamaran cruises are a good option, with barbecue buffet, and a fun, social atmosphere, from AED550 per person.
Jump aboard a traditional abra
As an alternative to all the glitzy party boats, a ride in one of the abras (traditional Arabian wooden boats) that regularly putter between Bur Dubai and Deira on the Dubai Creek, can be pretty magical. You will be joining commuters, labourers and the occasional tourist on the short ride past bustling markets, heritage districts and the glass-fronted highrises of Deira (which dominated the Dubai skyline long before Sheikh Zayed Road took over). At just AED1 per way, it is one of the cheapest ways to get an authentic taste of Dubai.
Sightseeing boat tours
Looking for something fun and adrenaline-pumping? Yellow Boats offers water-based guided sightseeing trips in inflatable vessels on four different routes. The trips, ranging from 45 minutes to 90, usually tour around Palm Jumeirah and Dubai Marina, and are served with a side of personality in the form of informed and full-of-character guides. Adrenaline junkies can book in for their Thrill Ride, which involves high-speed racing along the open waters and stomach-churning twists and turns. Prices start from AED150 per person.
The sleek, futuristic catamarans of Dubia’s ferry fleet ply between three stations - Dubai Marina, Al Ghubaiba and Al Mamzar. The routes take in the main sites and Dubai’s scenic coastline, while the double-decker air-conditioned ferries ensure ultimate comforts with a snack bar on-board and two classes of travel. Tickets start from AED50.
Dubai Corporation of Tourism & Commerce Marketing