The tale of Sinbad the sailor is part of the group of tales called the One Thousand and One Nights or just the Arabian Nights. This includes such well-known tales as Alladin and Ali Baba and the 40 thieves, and many others.
There are multiple versions in several Middle Eastern languages and several different translations into Western languages. Though it is generally called the Arabian Nights, not all the stories are Arabian in origin; the original collection believed to be the ancestor of all the others is in Persian, and some of the tales are originally Indian. The translations are generally based on later collections in Arabic, but some include additional tales not found in the Arabic versions; The seven voyages of Sinbad the sailor is one of the additions.
This account is based on a version downloaded from Project Gutenberg , originally published by Rand McNally in 1914. It uses the text from Jonathan Scott's 1811 edition and adds illustrations by Milo Winter. All quotes are from that version and are indicated by italics; I also use some of the illustrations. Project Gutenberg  has tens of thousands of free books including multiple versions of the Arabian Nights and many other classics.
The framing storiesEdit
Both the Arabian Nights as a whole and the Sinbad tale use the device of story-within-a-story; there is an overall framing tale within which other tales are told. Here both the framing tales take place in Baghdad in what is now Iraq during the time when the great Caliph Harun al-Rashid ruled there, around 800 CE.
The framing story for the Arabian Nights involves a mad Sultan who, having found his wife unfaithful, is now the ultimate misogynist; he really detests women, but cannot live without them. His habit is to marry a new girl each afternoon and have her executed the following morning. A clever lass named Scherezade, however, manages to survive by telling him stories; as long as she can deliver a good new story every night, he will not execute her and, if she makes it to 1001 nights, she will go free.
In the framing tale for the Sinbad stories, a poor porter named Sinbad (Hindbad in some versions) stops for a rest outside a luxurious house and ends up talking to the owner, Sinbad the Sailor. Sindbad, now an old man, was a trader on the Maritime Silk Road; he recounts the seven great voyages of his youth.
The first voyageEdit
The story starts: My father was a wealthy merchant of much repute. He bequeathed me a large estate, which I wasted in riotous living. I quickly perceived my error, and ... I entered into a contract with some merchants, and embarked with them on board a ship we had jointly fitted out.
They sail from Sinbad's home port, Basra, bound toward the Indies, through the Persian Gulf.