What to do when Docking at Aqaba Cruise Port
I visited the port of Aqaba on Cunard Queen Mary 2 Dubai to Southampton leg of the world voyage.
The day I visited Aqaba port it was sunny and very hot with temporary workers at 40oc t-shirt weather and needed a hat.
Information about Aqaba
Language – Arabic, English widely spoken
Climate – I visited in April and it was t-shirt weather very warm and would have been great for sunbathing. It is warm and dry all year round, temperatures varying from 38 to 20oc. Find out about the weather for your visit to Aqaba here
Dress code – as it is a tourist area it is relaxed however beachwear should be kept for the beach. Locals are covering heads arms and legs and if you want to visit any places of worship you will need to do this.
Things close in Aqaba for siesta time at 3pm and reopen about 6pm. Aqaba is a good place to buy hebron glass. Jordan is a great pace for buying silver and gold and a popular piece of jewellery is a necklace with a dallah charm (a golden coffee pot)
Basic Arabic – But everyone I encountered spoke English
Hello – Marhaba
Please – Law Samaht
Thank you – Shukran
How much – Adesh
Arriving at Aqaba Cruise Port
Aqaba port is the only port for Jordan at the most southern tip in the red sea. It is a working port which is why you cannot walk around independently.
There is a shuttle bus is provided every 20-30minutes it was easy to find straight outside the gangway. It drops off in the town at the tourist information centre about a 10-minute journey.
The port states it is fast becoming a tourist area but I didn’t see any other tourists apart from people off the two ships that were in port. Even the locals stop what they are doing to watch the tourists so it still must be a novelty sight for them to see people visiting.
However, all the people I encountered were smiley and friendly and even got a few waves from some local school children.
There is nothing in the port area such h as duty free toilets as these are not currently needed as the shuttle bus will be taking you to the town.
Even to get back on the ship the shuttle bus pulls up outside the ship so only have to go through the on-board security no port security in place.
Tourist information centre drop off point.
Taxis at Aqaba Port
There are a number of taxis here and they are touting for business and will approach you offering tours but if you are not interested just say no and they seemed to leave me alone.
They were offering 1 hour tours for $5 for 1 passenger which is actually really good and I wish I had taken them up on the offer but instead I went on the hop on bus.
Hop on Bus in Aqaba
There is a booking desk and it was $5 per person. It is a small 1 decked open top bus that has seen better days. In fact, if your chair stayed in position during the tour you were very lucky. The seats were all ripped and it was dirty.
The hop on bus in Aqaba is not the best I have done but there is little to do in Aqaba so its cheap< dont expect much but you will at least be seeing a bit of Aqaba.
The bus didn’t seem to take us anywhere. We went up one road to get a nice view of the harbour then came back.
No commentary is offered but you are not seeing anything anyway apart from residential houses and a school and people going about doing their daily life which is quite interesting. It last less than 25 minutes so don’t expect too much and if you have a few dollars to spend its ok but I would actually suggest trying a taxi for the same price and twice the time you must get to see more.
If you are going to do the bus, make sure you have some sunglasses and a hat as the sun was blaring down on me and it was also quite dusty from the road and I forgot my glasses so my eyes were getting gritty.
In the Aqaba guide I got from the tourist information it says the bus has a few different routes one being a 45 min ride covering the city and a market the other being a 1 ½ hour tour covering the city and the south beach, not sure which one I was on which meant it lasted 25 minutes and went up and down one road.
Tourist Information office in Aqaba
Also at this drop off point there is an information tourist office. They didn’t have much literature in there but I picked up a guide to aqaba which I noticed was avaible in a few other languages. The lady helped me with a query I had regarding the currency.
Money in Aqaba
You can spend US Dollars and Euros as well as the local Dinar but they will give you your change in Dinar.
However, do be careful I visited a pub called the Rovers Return based on my favourite soap Coronation street, great selection of beers and the food looked good. I asked if they accepted Sterling and he went to find out and came back and said yes so I ordered a nice cold pint of Amstel.
When it came to paying I gave a £20 and they converted that as 15dinar but my conversion rate app was saying it should be over 18 dinars so I queried it and he said yes madam you are correct and gave me the extra money. I know it’s only a few ££ but I’m on a budget so every penny counts for me lol he just handed me the extra money so it was obvious he was trying to pull a fast one and got caught out.
The app I use is currency converter V1.2.9, it might not be 100% accurate as you can use it without being connected to the internet but it will give you a general figure to be working on.
What is in Aqaba
You can walk into the centre of Aqaba will take about 20 minutes a pace to aim for is Aqaba Castle which is a fortress built in the 12th century.
There was also a water sport booth, an aquarium ticket booth, a small snack shop to get coffee, soft drink and crisps and a western union currency exchange.
On the opposite side of the road was a McDonalds which is a great place to get free Wi-Fi and use the toilet. I could manage to connect to their Wi-Fi though as it looked like everyone in there was doing the same thing. Also at this small complex was a number of other restaurants I noticed a Chinese, an Italian, subway, the rovers return and a duty free shop.
There is no duty free shop at the port so this would be your only opportunity to get some. They had a small selection of spirits, wines, cigarettes, perfumes, make up, sunglasses and belts. The prices were in US dollar.
The main promenade was flat paved paths and had various outlets such as cafes, souvenir shops, supermarkets, electrical shops.
I didn’t eat as there is so much food on my cruise ship but I noticed places offering humous, falafel and shawarma (spit grill lamb or chicken)
Other things to see and do in Aqaba
Aquarium – has a small selection of the marine life that can be found in the gulf open daily 7.30-2.30pm
Museum – Ceramics from Egypt, China and Iran that have been discovered during excavations
Ayla – The old city, there are remains of the old city walls. Used to be an important stopping place for Egyptian Pilgrims on their way to Mecca.
Aqaba Castle Fort – Open daily May to Oct 9-6pm Nov to Apr 9-5pm was built in 1510-17
Aqaba Heritage Museum – Open Sun to Thru 8.30-2.30pm is an old house which is a model of Aqabawi Mud house with tradional windows and doors.
Further Afield when docking at Aqaba
I visited this port during a Cunard world Voyage on the Queen Mary 2. The ship was offering some excursions but they seemed very steep in price.
Cruising excursion which is my normal go to website didn’t have any tours for this area during my visit, here are some excursions that the ship was offering
1. Relax on the beach
$50 for 5 ¾ hours on a private beach at the Movenpick Resort. No food or drink included but the use of the facilities are however sunbeds and umbrellas are subject to availiblity therefore there was no way I was paying $50 to maybe have to sit on a towel on the beach
2. Aqaba City and Wadi Rum
$108 for 5 hours, visiting the Aqaba Museum, the old city of Ayla and the desert landscape of the Wadi Rum. I was interested in f=doing this tour but again the price is very high so I didn’t book it. I spoke to some people who did go on this excursion and they said the journey was hot and cramped but the desert and lunch were nice.
This is the main port call for people wanting to visit Petra. Unfortunately, I couldn’t visit Petra on a cruise excursion as it is over 5 miles walking over rough terrain and I am not strong enough to do that yet due to health problems.
However, everyone that did visit Petra really enjoyed it and said it is a must place to see. I would actually like to visit again when I am able to walk with less pain and visit Petra as it looks amazing.
You can arrange a independent visit to Petra taxis cost around 80euro for a round trip and entrance to Petra is about £50. This is the website for planning your visit to Petra.