Growth in the Middle East?
We have previously discussed how there has been a strain of yields in the med (Too Many ships?). So does the Arabian Gulf offer an alternative?
Personally I think yes, Dubai has a growing tourist industry, with the worlds largest building, and the Palms to visit, as well as great weather the United Arab Emirates could be a great place for a pre cruise stay. Also Dubai is well-connected to the rest of the world thanks to Emirates Airlines.
In the future Dubai is looking to develop its tourism potential and a Universal Studios, Legoland and various other entertainment parks are planned to rival Orlando, In the future a cruise to be combined with these destinations, along with a stay at ‘Atlantis : The Palm’ would make for a great visit.
There is also significant opportunity for Cruise Lines to develop ‘Private Islands’ as destinations, to support the cruise schedule. Politically the region is still unstable however, and just a bit too far to tap the America cruise market. So I don’t believe
However this doesn’t mean that cruise lines aren’t trying, MSC has recently relocated MSC Lirica to Abu Dhabi, where she will be sailing around the Arabian Gulf, with calls at Muscat, Al Fujairah, Khasab in Oman and Dubai. Lirica will be offering a series of 19 cruises. The following year with 25 cruises will be the larger MSC Opera, Surely a significant committment by MSC in the Arabian Gulf cruise industry.
However just round the coast Costa Cruises have been operating out of Dubai since 2006, and was one of the first cruise lines to make a committment to the region. In a recent interview Costa President Giovanni Onorator has commented how there isn’t a real difference in itinerary as some ports such as Qatar don’t have the facilities, and Bahrain is currently not possible.
Dubai’s cruise port can currently accommodate two ships at a time, however plans are underway for the facility to be expanded, to offer space for five cruise ships by the end of 2012.
Royal Caribbean’s Brilliance of the Seas has been operating out of Dubai from November to April each year, offering cruises round the Middle East and India. With India’s wealth of culture this is a cruise which would interest me, However it would appear Royal Caribbean are returning Brilliance of the Seas to the Caribbean next year.
I don’t think this is something that can happen over night, and with the regional difficulties posed by the Arab Spring this could be something which in twenty years time is a highly developed cruise industry. If Dubai can develop its international appeal to families, just like Florida, there is no reason why it cannot succeed.
Just some facts and figures for you, This year there is expected to be 425,000 visitors to the United Arab Emirates on 120 different cruise ships, forecast suggest that 180 ships carrying 625,000 passengers will be calling in 2015.
I would love to know what you think? Could the United Arab Emirates ever develop a full cruise industry?