DUBAI // A bird's eye view of The Palm Jumeirah is an image well-publicised, but now the famous man-made island can be seen from a completely different perspective.
Nakheel is accepting the first bookings for its cruise service, which will from today carry sightseers on a trip inside the Palm's crescent and around the tips of the fronds.
A select few were given a preview of the tour yesterday and got a fascinating look at some of the remarkable villas from the water as the boat made its way around a circular route.
The striking design of buildings such as the Tiara Residence, which cannot be fully appreciated from the Palm's roads, was a particular surprise, while a number of ultra-modern villas stood out among the more conventional-looking homes on the fronds.
The Palm trips are the first to be offered under the "Cruise with Nakheel" banner.
However, Saeed Harib, the managing director of Nakheel Marine and Leisure, said expansion plans would include a cruise of The World islands.
"Next we will go to The World islands, then we are thinking of starting after-sunset cruises," he added. "The Palm Jumeirah project is almost complete and now we want to go to the second stage, which is providing water activities - and one water activity is cruising.
"In Dubai today most people staying in hotels like to go to the desert to see the dunes, the camels and the falcons. But here they can see another thing, so cruising adds value for tourists."
The trips begin at the Nakheel sales office on Al Sufouh Road.
The boats make their way past apartment blocks and the five-star hotels that are being built on the East Crescent before reaching the Aquaventure water park and Atlantis hotel.
They then head back, giving passengers views of new properties on the West Crescent such as the Jumeirah Zabeel Saray and One & Only. The route ends back at the sales centre.
Three sizes of boat are available for hire - 38ft, 52ft and 80ft, which can carry up to 12, 15 or 30 people respectively. The smallest boat costs Dh1,000 an hour to hire, the medium-sized one is Dh1,500 and the large double-decker houseboat costs between Dh3,000 and Dh5,000 depending on how many people are aboard.
Nakheel expect most cruises to last one, two or three hours and the company can provide catering for an additional charge.
* Cruises may be booked by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone on 056 177 0456.