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With some initial difficulty during confirmation as to where exactly to meet the driver we arrived at the port gate the same time as our driver Ali. Car was very clean and comfortable Ali's English was excellent as was his driving. His knowledge of Muscat and Oman generally was very good and he provided some interesting facts about the places we visited. We were never rushed to complete the tour in the allotted time he was quite comfortable to stay at each stop for as long as we wished. For someone like ourselves calling on a cruise it was an ideal way to see what Muscat has to offer we thoroughly enjoyed the tour and can highly recommend it.
We often book Viator tours when on cruises rather than the ship excursions as a we don't like to travel in groups and b we're a lot younger than our fellow cruise passengers so are able to do more active things or sightsee at a faster pace. For this reason we booked this tour as it was advertised as a 'private' city tour. However, our guide turned up 30 minutes late 60-90mins if you count that they ask you to be at the meeting point '30-60mins before' and when he turned up he told us that we would be travelling in a convoy of up to 4 cars with one shared tour guide!!!! We ended up in a pair of cars, but the tour guide travelled in the other car with some elderly Russian nationals. This meant that there were language issues on the tour and also they were EXTREMELY slow, to the point where we had to walk ahead and the tour guide stayed with them. We therefore didn't get hardly any information about each stop - we couldn't stand the frustrating pace in the end, we had to miss sights because we were running so behind. In the end we asked to go back to the ship before the end of the tour. It was a complete waste of a day. We're really upset as Oman was a stop we were looking forwards to. In 13 years of cruises this is honestly the worst tour we've ever been on.
I think the locals know that this 'outfit' are below par too as we were stood with the taxi drivers for 60 minutes waiting for our guide we became friendly with them. They felt really sorry for us that we'd been stood waiting for so long - they tried to help us with contacting the tour agent. Later we saw the same taxi drivers giving a very informative tour to their passengers in the Grand Mosque and they actually offered us to join them. You could tell they felt really bad for us...
My husband and I met up with our tour guide, Fahad right outside the cruise port, right on time. Fahad was congenial, funny and clearly has a deep affection for his home in Muscat. We went to all the sights, the Grand Mosque which rivals the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi in our humble opinion, the Muscat Museum, the Souk, the Palace and a lovely drive through the old city. Fahad was our personal negotiator in the souk too! We sampled Omani coffee and at the end of our tour Fahad went out of his way to find some coffe for us to take home. We highly recommend this tour and if youre up for a relaxed, knowledgeable and congenial guide, please ask for Fahad, and tell him his friends from California say hello!
I was at the hotel lobby before 8:30am, which was the agreed pick up time. I saw an Omani man who appeared to be waiting for someone but looked very relaxed, and I thought that he might be a tourist himself waiting for his driver. I was later sitting on the same bench as that man, waiting. After 10 minutes, the man appeared to be talking to the hotel staff and looking for somebody. Only at that point did I realise that he was probably the driver tour guide of this tour. I would have expected him to be more upfront and talk to me in the first place to find out if I was his client as I obviously looked like a foreigner/tourist in their country, whereas it was more difficult for me to identify the tour guide. The tour guide did not speak a lot of English but was a very nice person. We were taken to places that we were supposed to see without problems. It would have been nice if we could spend a bit more time in the souq, as I had only explored some parts of it.
Better to know where you want to go on this tour, as you are basically provided with an expat driver, who will take you around the sights. We started with a tour of the spectacular Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, a must see, the craftsmanship and architecture are beautiful. Such an atmosphere of peace and serenity. Then we drove on down to Mattrah, and then Old Muscat via the old road. Go this way for a great view of Muscat, nestled amidst the hills. We then had a look at the Shangri La resort at Bandar Jissah, then Bait al Zubair, a very well laid out museum, which was the private home of the Zubair family, prior to becoming a museum. It has many personal pieces from the family, displays of Omani costume, coins, stamps and weapons. Theres a gift shop and cafe, which we enjoyed as we were beginning to tire by this point. After that, we went back to our hotel, as it was around two pm. We could probably have had a longer tour if wed wanted. There wasnt much info from the driver, so you really have t know where you want to go.
This was an excellent tour with an itinerary as promised. The driver was also the guide very professional and knowledgeable and his customer service was exceptional as he also stopped at a Starbucks so I could get a drink and a mug for my collection. This tour required a minimum of 2 passengers and I had to pay double but it was worth it. The only thing I think that needs to be changed is the contact phone number provided. The telephone number was in Dubai and I was in Bahrain. They should have a local telephone number. Even with this said my guide was on time and this situation did not take away from this wonderful tour.