Insider Journal: A Visit to Sir Bani Yas Island on Seabourn Ovation

Olivia Balsinger

Insider Travel Report - May 27, 2019

The sun was shining through our curtains on the first full day of our 21-day “Arabia & Antiquities” Middle East itinerary on Seabourn Ovation. Following our intense travel route to Dubai, my boyfriend and I found sleeping in to be a blessing. We woke up at around 9 a.m. and enjoyed a leisurely breakfast on our balcony complete with views of Sir Bani Yas Island, our first official stop on the cruise. Once awake and caffeinated, it was time to make our way to this fascinating island in the midst of an arid desert.

Even for someone like me who has already explored much of the planet, Sir Bani Yas Island was vastly different than any “beach destination” I’ve ever visited. We arrived to onshore melodies and glasses of sangria delivered by Seabourn’s white-gloved attendants. After toasting in the sun for a bit, it was time to embark on our tour, which we had chosen a few weeks prior from Seabourn’s online tour catalogue.

We decided to take Seabourn’s Sir Bani Yas Island air-conditioned coach bus tour, since we wanted to explore the more remote areas of the island past the beachfront and hopefully spot some wildlife. With the insight of a knowledgeable local guide, we were given an introduction to the island’s history.

We learned that about 7,000 years ago the Bani Yas tribe left the island desolate—there were no trees or freshwater sources on the island and the shorelines were barren. When Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, founder of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), spontaneously visited the island, he transformed it into a sanctuary for endangered animals from Arabia, Africa and beyond.

One stop on the tour we found particularly fascinating was the Falcon hunting point, where we learned about the history of these fierce birds and how they have shaped hunting in the UAE.  The 90-minute tour gave us a new perspective into the history of Sir Bani Yas Island and how the past has shaped what it has turned into today.

Following the motorcoach tour, we had time to enjoy the island’s beach—pina coladas in hand, of course. For about $20 guests also could smoke from a hookah pipe on the beach. When it was time to head back to the ship, we felt rejuvenated had a new perspective on the history and attractions of Sir Bani Yas Island.

We enjoyed cocktails on Deck 10 of Seabourn Ovation during the sail away party from island, as we got ready to arrive bright and early in Doha, Qatar. It was a successful first day of our cruise on Seabourn Ovation, with more adventures to come.